Sonic Spark Ensembles

Sonic Spark Ensembles provide students with direct instrumental and voice instruction.

Through small ensemble musical instruction focused on creativity and improvisation, Sonic Spark Ensembles supports students in making musical connections to personal identity and cultural heritage, advances musical literacy and cross-curricular connections, develops improvisation skills as a pathway to technical mastery, and results in student-created original works.

Program structure

  • 4th grade through 12th grade
  • in-school or after-school
  • Skills-based sequential learning
  • Customizable to each school’s needs
  • Ongoing programs are preferred but short term residencies are also possible

Enhancing classroom learning

SSE is extremely successful in providing transferable skills that enhance classroom learning.

SSE is available to schools with or without active music programs.

Schools with ongoing music programs will see a strong surge in skills and enthusiasm
as we use improvisation and creativity to inspire motivation and technical advancement.

For schools without an ongoing music program, SSE often begins as a bucket drumming
and/or hand drumming ensemble with a strong focus on identity and heritage.

Featured school

IS 229 - Roland Patterson Middle School Morris Heights, Bronx
(Sonic Spark Ensembles AND Sonic Spark Lab)


ACO Teaching Artists inspire high achievement
and a strong incentive for attendance, among
a historically transient student community, with
a large population of recent arrivals.


In less than a year these middle school students coalesced into a high achieving ensemble, creating their own songs based on the musical traditions of their individual communities, and performing, self-directed, for their peers and special events Sonic Spark programs have become a powerful tool for enrollment and parent support The success of Sonic Spark Ensembles at IS 229 has led to the addition of Sonic Spark Lab for the current year

"I cannot be happy enough for all that this organization has done. This organization supported us in person and remotely when many others did not. The open communication with Mr. James specifically makes working with ACO feel like true partners in this service.
I am thankful for the artistry my scholars are exposed to along with the professionalism of all the teaching artists... Our scholars
love the program. I highly recommend
[ACO], and I am excited to continue
this great partnership for many
years to come."
Vernon Johnson, Principal, IS 229 Roland Patterson Middle School

For Schools and Organizations

ACO believes in partnership – we work closely with all of our partners to assure the deepest impact and closest possible alignment with the goals and missions of both our communities.

ACO Provides

  • Trained, experienced Teaching Artists who are active professional performers and composers
  • Program oversight and administrative support, including coordination of personalized planning and program evaluation
  • Field trips and guest artist opportunities

Our Partners Provide

  • Students!
  • A consistent, enthusiastic classroom teacher to
    be present and participate alongside the students
  • Necessary instruments or supplies – these expenses are usually small, and ACO can often arrange for donations or discounts
  • Evaluation information and student data, such as comparative attendance, academic and social performance statistics
Interested in exploring a partnership at your school?