“Music education is imperative for anyone to grow up complete.”—Paul Harvey

Founded in 1995, Music in the Schools Foundation (MIS) is dedicated to inspiring children and youth to participate in music as a fundamental part of their education. At no cost to the district or to the students, MIS provides music instruction in Pre-K through 5th grade in the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto.

During the school day, students learn the basics of music through singing, dance, playing instruments, and engaging in comprehensive music activities aligned with California State Visual and Performing arts (VAPA) Standards. MIS has provided mentor teachers to the Ravenswood middle school band directors who had no previous experience teaching strings. MIS mentorship not only ensures their success teaching strings, but also builds a strong orchestra program, preparing students to participate in the high school orchestra. A new 8th grade percussion elective will begin in the 2018-19 school year.

In addition to in-school music, MIS offers after-school programs including string ensemble with violin, viola, and cello and beginning in the 2018-19 school year, MIS will also offer after-school international folk dancing. These programs provide additional performance opportunities for our students, along with mentoring from local high school students who assist our experienced and dedicated teachers. Our teachers offer inspiring instruction in a supportive environment, where students are encouraged to experience the joy of music while developing music literacy. A strong music program supports academic success and Music in the Schools Foundation works tirelessly to help students achieve that success.

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Our Mission

Music in the Schools Foundation, through music literacy and achievement, promotes the intellectual, social, and cultural development of underserved students of the Ravenswood City School District.

Our Program Director

kyle1.jpgIn August 2015, Kyle Sofman joined MIS as Program Director. Kyle is a champion of the arts in schools and believes it should be and integral part of the instructional day and not just an extra curricular activity. She knows that every child can learn and that music provides a unique mode of expression not possible in other subjects. It is Kyle’s hope that the music program will provide students with a solid foundation in musical skills, but also a love of music that goes beyond the classroom. She is supportive of teachers, having taught music in the Bay Area since 1996. She strives to foster a strong sense of community amongst the MIS and RCSD music teachers, helping them feel connected to each other and to the schools where they teach.

In addition to her role at MIS, Kyle teaches preschool music at Whistle Stop Child Development Center in Palo Alto and music classes for Special Needs adults at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View. For many years, during the summer, she created and taught 2-week summer camps including music and art for young children.

Outside of teaching, Kyle performs with the Peninsula Women’s Chorus where she has been the section leader for the 1st Sopranos since 2001, managed volunteers, and served on the Board of Directors. She received a Bachelor’s of Music Education at Oberlin College and a Masters in Music Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2015, she received her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from San Francisco State.

Our Teachers

imageShelly Crouse-Monarez teaches beginning and intermediate strings at Willow Oaks Elementary School and Los Robles Elementary School. She has a wealth of experience as a teacher including coaching and teaching adult orchestras, middle school concert band, and elementary school orchestra. In her private studio, Shelly teaches violin, viola, and cello to students from ages 4 to 89.

Shelly is former Concertmaster of the OPC Orchestra, and has guest performed with local orchestras such as the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, the Castro Valley Chamber Orchestra, and the Community Women’s Orchestra. Internationally, she has performed with the Pleven State Philharmonic (Pleven, Bulgaria) and the Ukrainian State Academic Orchestra (Kiev, Ukraine).

Now in her 13th year as staff fiddler for the Northern California Renaissance Faire, Shelly also teaches, calls and plays for middle school workshops in Renaissance English Country Dance, Shakespearean Theatre and Commedia Dell’Arte. She performs in local libraries with her group, Canamara, and has both composed and arranged incidental music for theatre productions including a “Mid-Summer Night’s Dream,” “Jack, the Giant Killer,” and “Treasure Island.” Her performance history encompasses a uniquely wide musical palette, which includes playing with string and symphony orchestras, marching bands, Dixieland and New Orleans jazz, musical-theater pit orchestras, and folk fiddling.

Shelly firmly believes in every student’s musical abilities. She stresses that Music is language, math, science and art, and believes that her mission is to empower young violinists with strong skills that will nurture their unique musical voices.



Music Specialist Michel Hardbarger’s pre-school classes at the RCSD Child Development Center are engaging and fun. She routinely incorporates body movement, basic rhythm instruments, and singing into her classes.  Michel’s energetic teaching is strongly influenced by Orff techniques with hands-on learning. Classroom teachers affirm that Michel’s music classes are one of the special times of the week for their students, and they’re grateful that MIS provides this educational experience for their students. Michel began teaching International Folk Dance at Los Robles Magnet Academy starting in the 2018-19 school year and will offer the same class at Willow Oaks starting in the 2019-20 school year. 

During her tenure at MIS, at the request of her beloved students, Michel led a ukulele club for 4-5th graders at Willow Oaks and has taught general music to students in Kindergarten, first, and second grade at Willow Oaks and Belle Haven Elementary School.


vinnie3Born in Daly City and raised in Danville, Vincent Rodriguez began playing flute in elementary school, and in middle school joined the choir and also took interest in percussion. Several years later he enrolled in the music program at Los Medanos College in Pittsburgh and played in the jazz ensemble and concert band directed by John Maltester. He studied percussion with Bob Hamaker and drumset with Lance Dresser.

Vincent earned his Associate Degree in music from Cabrillo College and studied jazz arranging and theory with Ray Brown. He played in the jazz combo and ensemble, and studied drumset with Steve Robertson. He completed his undergraduate studies in jazz at San Jose State University and was fortunate to study classical percussion with Galen Lemmon. He studied jazz theory and improvisation on vibraphone with Aaron Lington and his mentor, jazz pianist, Frank Sumares. His drumset teachers included Joe Hodge and Jason Lewis.

While continuing his studies with Lewis and Sumares, Vincent earned his masters in jazz studies from San Jose State University. He was nominated “Outstanding Music Graduate Student” and graduated Summa Cum Laude. After graduating, he played steadily on San Francisco’s jazz scene with Don Prell, Scott Larson, Michael Parsons, and many others.

Entering his fourth year teaching elementary school with Music in the Schools, Vinnie teaches general music in Kindergarten through 5th grade. He has also taught a percussion elective for 8th graders. In addition to his teaching at MIS, he is very excited to be teaching jazz drumset at Las Positas College.



American conductor Thomas Shoebotham has impressed both audiences and critics with his performances of a wide range of repertory, displaying strong musicality, versatility, and “masterful command of pacing, dynamics, and color.” Equally at home on the concert stage and in the opera and ballet pit, he conducts frequently with professional, community, and youth ensembles, collaborating with notable singers, dancers, and instrumentalists to bring “rousing, colorful” presentations to a variety of audiences.

Shoebotham is currently Music Director of the Palo Alto Philharmonic, and chief conductor for The New Ballet in San Jose. During his tenure with Palo Alto Philharmonic he has gained recognition for creating compelling concerts that feature both traditional masterpieces and newer works by various current composers, including Chris Theofanidis, Roberto Sierra, Stephen Paulus, Lee Actor, and Jennifer Higdon. In addition, he has conducted numerous other orchestras in both the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, including Peninsula Symphony, the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, Albuquerque Philharmonic, Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, the St. Peter’s Chamber Orchestra, and the Rio Grande Chamber Symphony.

As an opera and ballet conductor Shoebotham has conducted performances with Opera San José (Les Pêcheurs de Perles), Lyric Theatre of San Jose (Iolanthe), The New Ballet (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker), West Bay Opera (The Last Tycoon), Emerald City Opera in Steamboat Springs (Le Nozze di Figaro), Berkeley Opera (Otello, Béatrice et Bénédict, Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Cosí fan Tutte, and L’italiana in Algeri), Opera on Tap San Francisco (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Verismo Opera (Otello).

Prior to his position with Palo Alto Philharmonic Mr. Shoebotham was Assistant Conductor of Peninsula Symphony in San Mateo, California. During this time he conducted numerous works on the orchestra’s classical and pops concerts, presented all of the orchestra’s family concerts, and filled in for the ailing principal conductor with no rehearsal at a subscription concert to great critical acclaim.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Shoebotham holds a B.M. in Cello Performance from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he was awarded a M.M. in Cello Performance and Literature. Returning to Albuquerque, he again studied at the University of New Mexico, earning a M.M. in Orchestral Conducting, while also serving as a conductor, coach, and pianist with the UNM Opera Theater. He has appeared as a cello soloist with several orchestras in the San Francisco Bay Area and performed many solo and chamber music recitals in California, Illinois, and New Mexico. As a pianist he has collaborated with many singers and instrumentalists and served as accompanist for numerous concert and opera choruses.

When he isn’t making music, Mr. Shoebotham is an avid hiker and photographer, and also greatly enjoys swing dancing and tennis.

Board of Directors

  • Virginia Fruchterman, Chair
  • Jon Ellis, Treasurer
  • David Jones, Secretary
  • Patricia Pietrzyk
  • Nancy Coffey

Advisory Board

  • Signe Boyer
  • Marco Chavez
  • Nancy Fiene
  • Arturo Flores
  • Rufina Gorin
  • Kyomi Masatani
  • David Sloss
  • Benjamin Simon