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Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA)

Equity, access, and excellence in arts education for every student in every school is the vision and the goal of the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Through bringing the arts into the classroom and students to the arts, we aim to build and enhance skills and encourage students, teachers and parents to view themselves as life-long learners who are inspired by the arts and to act as creative participants in our school communities. Viewing the arts both as stand-alone subjects taught by credentialed specialists, and as powerful partners to academic subjects through interdisciplinary and arts-infused classes, we work to teach the whole child and prepare all of our students for fulfilling lives and jobs in the coming years. We also provide professional development for our teachers and administrators to enhance their classroom practices and to inspire them as creative leaders in the educational process.

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Keep the Arts Alive at SMMUSD

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Stairway Elementary Honor Audition information
This year, we are requiring all families to sign up for an audition via the online link:

SMMUSD Visual and Performing Arts Programs

Current program:
 "Music 'N Motion" provides district-funded dance instruction for all 3rd graders. “Dancing Classrooms” provides instruction for all 5th graders. Approximately 1,000 SMMUSD elementary school students attended the Westside Ballet performances of The Nutcracker at The Broad State in December 2015, with transportation provided by Santa Monica College. The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) funds the Robert Gilliam dance program, providing once-a-week instruction during P.E. at John Adams, Lincoln, Malibu, and SMASH Middle Schools and Malibu High School. Santa Monica High School offers "for credit" dance classes.

Performances: Dancing Classrooms presents an annual showcase, and Santa Monica High School presents winter and spring dance showcases each year.

Current program: All 3rd grade students are taught General Music once a week for 40 minutes. All 4th and 5th graders choose either choir, string instruments, or wind instruments and are taught 40 minute classes twice a week during school hours. The 10 elementary music teachers are credentialed and are funded by the district. A wide range of music classes are offered at all the middle and high schools. SMMEF, the Gail Dorin Music Foundation, and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation fund the Dream Strings, Dream Winds and Dream Voice programs at the four Title I elementary schools and at two of the middle schools to support students whose families cannot afford additional music instruction. Nearly half of all K-12 students participate in the district's music program!

 In addition to winter and spring concerts at all schools and the annual district wide “Stairway of the Stars” concert, Malibu High School and Samohi also present choral "Masterworks" concerts, and the Samohi Viking Marching Band participates in competitions and tournaments. The Samohi Jazz Band and Jazz Combo both placed first in the nationwide Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Festival in 2011. The John Adams Middle School Wind Ensemble and the Samohi Symphony were among only 6 groups invited to perform at the California All-State Music Education Conference in 2011. The Lincoln Middle School Concert Band was invited to perform at the California All-State Music Education Conference in 2013. The Samohi Wind Ensemble was invited to perform at the California All-State Music Education Conference in 2016.

 Many of the middle and high school music ensembles participate in adjudicated festivals sponsored by SCSBOA and SCVA. Many SMMUSD middle and high school students are selected each year for honor choirs, orchestras, and bands on the regional and state levels by ACDA, CAJ, CBDA, CODA, SCSBOA, and SCVA. District students have also been chosen as finalists and grand prize finalists in the LA County Music Center "Spotlight" Awards, and have been selected for the ACDA national honor choirs, the ASTA National High School Honor Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, and the GRAMMY High School Jazz Band and Jazz Choir.

Current program: P.S. ARTS, a non-profit foundation, provides visual and performing arts instruction at all the elementary schools. The Morgan-Wixson Theatre provides opportunities for elementary students to attend theatre performances. Santa Monica Playhouse offers workshops for students and classroom teachers. SMMEF and PTSAs fund after-school "non credit" drama programs at John Adams and Lincoln Middle Schools that put on spring musicals. Malibu Middle, Malibu High, Olympic High, and Samohi offer classes in acting and stagecraft technology.

Performances: Performances in 2015-16 included “Into the Woods” at John Adams Middle School, “Mary Poppins” at Lincoln Middle School, “Into the Woods” at Malibu Middle School, “33 Variations” in the fall and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in the spring at Malibu High School, and “Clybourne Park” in the fall and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Public Domain” in the spring at Santa Monica High School.

Honors: Samohil students participate in the Drama Teachers of Southern California (DTASC) annual Fall Festivals and Shakespeare Festivals. In 2016, two Samohi students were selected as semifinalists in the LA County Music Center’s “Spotlight” Awards. One was subsequently selected as a “Spotlight” finalist, and he was also selected as one of 60 Presidential Scholars in the Arts candidates as part of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Current program: P.S. ARTS provides visual and performing arts instruction for all TK-5 students. A wide range of "for credit" art classes is offered at the middle and high schools, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, photography, film/video and digital design. John Adams Middle School students have participated in an international mural exchange project with a school in Kyoto, Japan. Lincoln Middle School students have participated in MOCA's Contemporary Art Start Program. Samohi students have participated in the MOCA Teen Internship program.

 Samohi Art Gallery exhibits in 2015-16 included "Day of the Dead -- Dia de los Muertos" and the Senior Art Show. In May 2016, the Districtwide Visual Arts Show took place at Arena One in the Santa Monica Art Studios at 3026 Airport Avenue and featured student artwork from all the district middle and high schools.

 Malibu High School and Samohi offer AP art classes, and students from both schools have competed successfully in the LA County Music Center "Spotlight" Awards. From more than 16,000 entries submitted from around the world, two Malibu High School students were chosen as finalists in the Photographer's Forum Magazine 33rd Annual College & High School Photography Contest and had their photos published in a hardcover book, Best of College & High School Photography 2013. Three Samohi students were accepted to 2015 summer art programs: two at the Pratt Institute and one at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
California Visual and Performing Arts Standards

Play it forward. SMMUSD instrument donation program
About the SMMUSD 'Play It Forward' Instrument Donation Program

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offers music instruction to 4th and 5th graders on the following instruments:
. Flute
. Clarinet
. Trumpet
. Trombone
. Violin
. Viola
. Cello

Since some students cannot afford to rent or buy an instrument, the District tries to meet the need of every student by providing one. Often, there are not enough district-owned instruments to go around.

To deal with the instrument gap, we created the 'Play It Forward' program, where you can donate a used or new instrument to our music program.

If your child has participated in the District’s fantastic music program and/or one of the instruments listed above is collecting dust in your closet, please consider 'Playing It Forward' so another child might have the opportunity to play an instrument.

Learn More / Donation Information >

Accepting Applications for Independent Contractors for Semi-Private Music Lessons

Click here for application >

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is currently accepting applications for independent music contractors to provide semi-private music lessons in strings, winds and voice, to students in 4th through 12th grades.

These lessons will occur on a weekly basis after school hours during the 2016-2017 school year in both Santa Monica and Malibu.

Those encouraged to apply are Independent music companies with music teachers who hold at least a B.A. in music and maintain a high level of competency (instrument and/or voice). They must also have experience teaching in a small group and/or one-to-one setting, with a willingness to work in Santa Monica and/or Malibu.

Learn More >

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
1651 16th Street
Santa Monica, California 90404