“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.

Visit us on Facebook for frequent updates!

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.



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.


Benita Hopkins EditedBenita Hopkins has taught viola, voice, and piano, as well as general music in the classroom. She has deep roots in local communities. Motivated by an abiding sense of justice (one of Benita’s favorite quotations of Dr. King’s is, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”), she has spent considerable time and energy working to improve lives locally and internationally.

Benita is the current Director of Education for the local nonprofit Generations United, which works with underserved children and families in Redwood City, empowering them to reach their full potential. Formerly, she was Director of Community Education and Engagement for Love Never Fails, an organization committed to the local trafficked population.

Benita has worked in Ghana, west Africa, serving with CORM Ghana at their Faith Roots International Academy and 7Continents in their workforce development and prevention education programs for children and families vulnerable to trafficking along the Lake Volta Region.

Benita is a recent graduate of Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan and a recent graduate of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative. She was awarded “2015 Abolitionist of the Year” for Education by the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and the “Working Women’s Award” by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley in 2011. She is on the Board of S.H.A.D.E. (Survivors Healing and Dedicated to Empowerment) and the Co-Chair of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking.

In her spare time, she is the Principal Violist in the Mission College Symphony.


Imani Tahira 2020Imani Hopkins (General Music Teacher at Costaño, grades TK-5A) is a native of the SF Bay Area. She is a creative artist and educator, and passionate about arts integration in education. She’s been teaching in schools and studios for over 10 years, with an emphasis on the performing arts. In that time, she has choreographed more than 50 dances, coordinated and/or directed over 10 productions, written and implemented UC approved Visual & Performing Arts curriculum and coordinated a VAPA program at the college preparatory level.

Some might say, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…” A fourth generation educator, Imani comes from a line of musicians and music enthusiasts. From violists to vocalists, trumpeter to trombonist, she’s been surrounded by music her entire life. She sang and danced while studying at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Enthralled by arts integration, many of her original dance works incorporate live music and spoken word.

Imani has travelled through much of Asia and Europe, gathering inspiration and spreading a message of hope through the arts. She brings those international influences into her unique approaches to learning. She focuses her teaching on developing young artists toward reaching their full potential by encouraging, investigating, equipping and releasing each of her students into their own artistic expressions.

In addition to her educational contributions, Imani is a part of the creative team at VIVE Church in Palo Alto.


LeonidLeonid Fridman, the MIS after-school strings teacher, graduated as a cellist from the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia. He has worked as a principal cellist of a music theater orchestra, a cello teacher, and a conductor. When Mr. Fridman moved to the United States in 1994, he began teaching at private music schools and playing in chamber ensembles. Leonid brings over 20 years of teaching experience and currently maintains a private music studio in Palo Alto. Mr. Fridman believes all children should have access to music education and he is excited to bring the joy of music to Los Robles and Willow Oaks.


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