Academy Curriculum PathWays
Music Learning Pathways - Academy Music Path or Love of Music Path?
We offer two pathways of learning music. One pathway is academic and technical, and the second is for relaxation, joy and healing.
The Academic Music Pathway focuses on music levels, theory, performing, certification, competitions & recitals, and other trackable achievements. This pathway is recommended for students wanting to pursue music academically, perform, major or minor in music, or perhaps make it a future career.
The Love of Music Pathway is for students wanting to learn and play music for healing, music therapy, as a hobby, or just for fun. The goals of these lessons are to feed the spirit, mind and soul with the joy that comes from learning and playing an instrument. The students that take this pathway want to play music for the love of music and do not desire an academic end or specific goal. These students - young or old - want music for the sake of music; to bring more beauty to their lives and the lives of others.
Can I Change My Music Pathway?
At any point in your training, you are welcome to switch pathways. Some students begin with the Academic Path and then realize they want to play music “just for fun”, and others begin with the Love of Music Path, and then realize they want more of a challenge. We support both paths and hope you can find the perfect path for you!
How Do I Get Started If I Have No Prior Experience?
Both Music Lesson Pathways start out with the same instructional process:
- Begin with the Exploration Group Class - This is to first dip your toes in the water and find out if playing the harp is the right choice for you.
- Primary Level Group Lessons for Children or Adults - We recommend group lessons for learning basic skills in playing the harp.
- Join Music Fluency A, B or C - Music fluency is key to any musical instrument you wish to play. Without this fundamental knowledge, you will not get far. Imagine trying to read before learning the alphabet and phonics!
- Enroll in Private Lessons and choose the Academic Path or the Love of Music Path - Once you have passed the beginning music fluency classes and taken full advantage of group lessons, it is time to move up to Private Lessons. Private Lessons are the last step in the “Love of Music Path''. Your private instruction time will give you that consistent enjoyment of playing the harp, much like attending your beloved yoga class and perfecting your favorite poses class after class.
What If I Choose the Academic Path?
The Academic Path starts with Steps 1 - 4, but then continues below:
- Private Lessons - Starting at Harp Level 1, you will work on songs to test your progress. Harp is rated Level 1 - 10, 10 being the top tier of harpists. Levels 1 - 5 are beginner levels.
- Complete Certification Programs (ASTACAP or MTAC) - Once you start private lessons, we will work on playing a few songs that you can perform to test for ASTACAP or MTAC certification. Each year, you will have the opportunity to test and level up.
- Introduction to Ensembles - There are many opportunities to join harp ensembles to practice outside of your lesson time. The SJYS Harp Ensemble is a great way to improve your group playing and performance skills.
- Advanced Levels are Levels 5 -10. Once you reach Level 5, you will be proficient enough to play for a non-profit church or event, perform solo harp work, or step in as a teacher volunteer.
- Senior Recital and Graduation - Senior recitals are the creme de la creme of a harpist journey to learning and mastering the harp. At this level, you will be able to audition for orchestras, play independently, major in music or teach harp. Senior recital participants memorize 4 pieces, level 5 or higher, from different genres of music, and perform in a 20-30 min solo recital.
For more details on classes and progression of Learning To Play The Harp, read below.
Have you ever wanted to play the harp, but not sure where to begin? This is the class for you! Four 50-minute group classes are designed to introduce you to what it’s like to play the harp. You don’t need books or a harp (unless you’re learning online). Just come to our studio ready to play!
Primary Level Group Lessons
All beginners need to learn the foundations of playing the harp. Before starting private lessons, students need to be able to demonstrate Primary Level Skills.
- Note Reading Fluency (must pass Music Fluency Classes A & B)
- How to Count Music
- Beginning Harp Technique using up to 4 fingers
- How to Play Arpeggios and Scales
- How to Play Primary Level Music
- Beginning Theory and Music Terminology
The Primary Level Group Lessons can last anywhere from two months to a year, depending on the age, music background and learning style of the student. The goal for this level is to gain the most important foundational skills. Once these skills are mastered, and the student can pass the Primary Level Test, they are encouraged to begin private lessons.
Music Fluency Classes A, B and C
Before you can master any instrument, you must learn the basics of reading music.
Music Fluency A
Enrolling in our “Learn to Read Music” class helps students with no or little ability to read music accelerate their learning process. By the end of this class you will know your treble and bass clef notes, basic rhythm, and basic terminology.
Music Fluency B
The goal of this class is to help students read music as fast as they can read English. After they learn how to read music, many students need help to read music fluently. By the end of this class, students can read all notes on and off the staff in one second, master complex rhythms, and know all preliminary terminology.
Music Fluency C
Music Fluency C is the art of speaking music. In this class, students will learn the basics of sight reading, ear training, chord recognition and beginning music theory, such as key signatures and chords.
Music Theory Office Hours
There are 10 Levels of Music Theory - Music Theory is as important to a musician as learning to play an instrument. With Music Theory Office Hours, we encourage and help students to learn all aspects of Music Theory. This includes students just starting to understand the foundations of music theory to advance students practicing for advanced placement examinations. Students often struggle with learning to speak music and once this is mastered they gain confidence and higher levels of music mastery. Music Theory Office Hours allow students to learn all levels of Music Theory with a teacher, as needed. Just sign up for office hours when needed and get help with specific challenges.
Private Lessons at the Beginner Stage: Levels 1 through Level 5
After students graduate from the Primary Level and can read music fluently and understand beginner music theory, they may start private lessons at Level 1. This is also the point where they may choose the Academic Path or For the Love Of Music Path if they haven’t already.
The Love Of Music Path classes are more student-led and we master skills to help them meet their dreams to play the music they want. This is therapeutic-based, where music is for healing and not goal-driven. The goal is the journey.
The Academic Path is determined by a set of skills each level requires students to meet before passing to the next level. Each level takes about a year to complete depending on the student. During this time, we work on developing passion and technique that are key for self expression and learning harder and harder music. Passing the level is determined by the certification processes either through ASTA or MTAC. Your teacher will help you choose which test is right for you. Sometimes a teacher will let you pass a level if you are able to test out of the skills needed mid-year.
- ASTACAP - American Strings Teachers Association Certificate Advancement Program
- MTAC - Music Teacher Association of California
By Level 2, students are able to audition for San Jose Youth Symphony Harp Ensemble. This ensemble brings private lessons to life through teamwork and community. Students learn to listen and lead, to blend and perform as a group. With two performances a year, they are invited to learn more music than by themselves. By Level 3 and up, harp students are eligible to audition into other beginner groups at SJYS, such as Beginner Strings Orchestra. You can find more information at www.sjys.org.
Private Lessons at the Advanced Stage: Level 5 through Level 10
Students at Level 5 through Level 10 are pre-professional and professional harp performers. As a student enters into Level 5, he or she is able to sound more sophisticated and professional. Favorite classical pieces - such as Canon In D, and the works of composers such as Chopin, Debussy, and others - are at their fingertips. Popular and contemporary pieces - such as Disney songs - are favorites. College-level playing begins at Level 6 and Level 7, while Level 8 through Level 10 are considered college level and professional levels. Few students who are not music majors are in Level 6 though Level 10.
- Student teaching
- Community outreach
Only a few students each year are able to reach the most prestigious goal of a “Senior Recital”. This is the glamorous presentation of a 20-30 min solo recital showcasing 4 or more pieces from each musical period, rated at least at a Level 5 through Level 10. This would be music often used to audition into the university for a music major or minor.