It's sometimes quite daunting to join a new music ensemble. What level am I? Do I need to read music? How well do I need to sight-read? These are some of the common questions that many individuals have before they join. 

Therefore, we'd like to take a moment to briefly outline what to expect when you join a VPOPS Ensemble. If you are unsure about which level you are, please feel free to contact us for a recommendation. 


Level 1: Pure beginner, can't read music, never sang or played an instrument before.

Level 2: Less than 2 years of musical experience, can read some basic music. Can produce at least a one octave scale in 3 different keys.

*Level 3: Can read music independently at a moderate pace, and can produce most pitches within 2 octaves and basic quarter and eighth note rhythms accurately. 2-4 years experience. If you've done music throughout elementary, this is a great place to start.

*Level 4: 5-7 years experience. Must be able to read music comfortably without assistance. Can handle some technically challenging passages and ranges, with the ability to tune and harmonize with others. If you have participated in music ensembles throughout high-school or college, this would be an ideal level for you.  

*Level 5: 8-10 years experience. Can sight-read music fluently, with good control over tone, dynamics, articulation, and tempo. If you have studied music seriously in the past, and are currently active musically, this would be the ideal level for you.

Sample music reading assessment: Treble Clef Bass Clef / Alto Clef

If you have no trouble reading the sample provided, you may be qualified for level 4-5 ensembles.

*To ensure all individuals are keeping up with the ensemble, everyone will be asked to submit audio recordings for an assessment on the third week of the month (2-3 submissions per term). These assessments will help us determine whether individuals are place in the right level and seat/voice.


Talent comes in many shapes and forms. However, not everyone shares the same musical training and background. At the Vancouver Pops, we have a graduated program that allows any individual to find the perfect fit for their current level and appetite for music with a lot of room for development. Level 1 is designed for absolute beginners, with zero knowledge of music reading and music theory, or less than 1 year of experience with their instrument. Level 2 is designed for anyone with less than 2 years of formal training. These sessions will provide instruction in the areas of basic music notation, rhythm, and pitch tuning. For those who have had past experience with music, but are not fully confident in their skill level and knowledge, our level 3 programs are a perfect place to "get back" into music, to improve technique, range, endurance, and execution of intermediate rhythms. The level 4 and 5 programs provide previously trained musicians (6+ years) a challenging, demanding, and fast-paced program to further their skill, technique, and musicality in a performance-oriented environment.


Music reading is required for all level 3-5 programs. While having a good ear and natural musicality is important, being able to read music is a fundamental skill for any progressing musician in an ensemble. If you do not yet know how to read music, it is recommended that you start at the level 1 class.


Above all else, commitment is the number one priority. Commitment refers to attendance, punctuality, and personal practice. Being in an orchestra or choir is not a solo venture, and hence requires diligent personal practice and thorough rehearsals together as a group. If you miss a rehearsal, you will indeed miss a great deal of practice and perfecting, plus the group misses out on your part of the music. TIP: Try to avoid schedule conflicts (don't think of rehearsals as optional), stay health-conscious, and if you must miss one, have a friend record the rehearsal or come in for a make up session with the director to catch up. Regardless of how skilled any one individual is, we must work together as a group in order to succeed as a group. If you have more than 2 missed rehearsals in a term, you may be, under the instructor’s discretion, downgraded to a lower level, withdrawn from the performance, or removed from the ensemble.