Symphony, Casa de Amistad team up to bring music to kids in Solana Beach

Thanks to the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, Casa de Amistad is offering music classes for the first time. Dedicated to fostering education and character development for local under-represented children, the Solana Beach-based organization provides mentoring and tutoring services.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Nicole Mione-Green, Casa de Amistad’s program director. “All kids should have access to music.”

The after-school music program kicked off Jan. 13, with 20 students in grades 4-6. Led by professional violinist Rebecca Matayoshi, the class will meet twice a week for one-hour sessions where students will learn introductory violin, viola and cello in a large ensemble setting, as well as basic music theory and musicianship.

“It’s important to provide every kid with music,” said Annette Fritzsche, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s community program manager. “Music allows kids to learn and create in a different format than what they’re used to, compared to studying math, science, reading and writing. It uses the right side of your brain and lets you be successful in a different way.”

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory launched the Community Opus Project in 2010 to encourage school districts to include music education in the regular curriculum. It partnered with the Chula Vista Elementary School District to provide after-school music classes.

“We wanted to show them the power of the arts,” Fritzsche said. “We told them that attendance would go up, test scores would go up and parent involvement would go up — and that’s exactly what happened.”

The program was so successful, the school district has started to reinstate its music program after a 15-year hiatus, Fritzsche said.

This is the first time San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is partnering with a nonprofit for its Community Opus Project.

Last year, Casa de Amistad volunteers Judge Lee and Marjorie Sarokin sponsored seventh-grade violist Keyli Garibay so she could join San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. Wanting to provide opportunities to even more students at Casa de Amistad, the couple approached both organizations to explore possibilities.

With funding from the Sarokins, Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust, Betty Scalice Foundation at Coastal Community Foundation and other supporters of Casa de Amistad and the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, the pilot program is funded for 18 months, through next school year.

“Our idea is to launch this and see where it goes, but we have big dreams,” Fritzsche said.

For information or to donate to the program, contact Fritzsche at

For more about Casa de Amistad and volunteer opportunities, visit