Popular Music


Students in the Popular Music Track at PHS perform music from a variety of genres on contemporary instruments. Throughout their 4 years in the program students can go from having never played an instrument before to playing gigs both on and off campus. Students primarily play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and sing in the groups, but a variety of other instruments have also been used in these groups in past performances. 

Students of all backgrounds have a place with us in one of our courses and all bring their skills together for our end of the year music festival - Porchella:

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Guitar 1

Term: Yearlong    |   Level: 1

Guitar one is designed to find the inner rockstar of students of all musical backgrounds. Throughout the year students will learn how to play the guitar through learning songs, performing sets, and working with their peers. Students will collaborate with each other to perform on campus in small and large groups and will also learn how to establish themselves as an artist and promote their work. Anyone that is looking to have fun while making music with their classmates is strongly encouraged to give it a shot!

Guitar 2

Term: Yearlong    |   Level: 2

Guitar 2 is a course that is intended to take students with some background in guitar playing and provide them with the skills and techniques necessary to begin learning longer songs, playing different instruments, and start creating music on their own. Students in this course will be asked to perform in a variety of settings on campus and work as a full class and in small groups to increase their ability on guitar and find the ways in which their abilities can be transferred to other instruments. Throughout the year a variety of song styles, genres, and instrumentations will be learned, practiced, and performed as a full class and in small groups. Students that are looking to take their playing as well as performing to the next level should check it out!

This class is open to all students that have passed Guitar 1 and received their teacher's recommendation as well as students that audition in. 

Full Contemporary Track Photo

78 Decibels - Student band performing at Porchella 2023

Studio Music

Term: Yearlong    |   Level: 3

Studio Music brings students of all instruments together to build on their musical and technical abilities to write, arrange, rehearse, and perform songs they enjoy as well as songs that they compose individually and as groups. Throughout the year students will be asked to perform on the common popular music instruments (guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and vocals) and work with their peers to choose songs, develop an image, and perform at the Battle Of Rock Bands in the fall, and Porchella, our end of the year festival, in late May. Students will bring in their knowledge on their main instrument as well as their understanding of the other instruments that make up these bands to create their own songs throughout the to establish and build on their composition portfolio and will have multiple opportunities throughout the year to record and perform their songs. Students that want to take the stage and share their refined skills, passion, and art with crowds should definitely give it a shot!

This class is open to all students that have passed Guitar 2 and received their teacher's recommendation as well as students that audition in. Students that play instruments other than guitar must audition for Mr. Traska prior to enrolling. 

This course is also repeatable and offers returning students to serve as student leaders that assist Mr. Traska in rehearsing with their groups as well as assisting new students in learning how we do what we do throughout the year.

+1ZP - 2022/2023 Pop Performance Ensemble

Pop Performance Ensemble

Term: Two Semester Courses    |   Level: 4

Pop Performance Ensemble is Portola's flagship popular music ensemble. This course is a guided study through what it takes to be an established and working band in 2021. Students will build on the skills obtained in Studio Music while refining their own compositional voice, working with their peers to create their brand, and rehearsing, promoting, and performing music. Students will be able to perform their own music as well as music that will entertain crowds at all events including but not limited to the PHS Homecoming Tailgate, the annual shows at PHS, and at clubs and venues across Southern California. 

 Combining their musical, social, and promotional skills, students will be expected to create an image, develop their sound, establish their image, and market themselves in a way that promotes their group as well as the department at Portola. This class will provide the members of this ensemble with the basic valuable skills that are crucial to become to a successful musician in the 21st century. 

This is a strictly auditioned based ensemble. This ensemble is comprised of 4-5 members of the Studio Music course. Under the direction of Mr. Traska, the auditions will take place at the beginning of each semester.

Interested in trying one of these courses?

Email Mr. Traska - kyletraska@iusd.org

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