Friday, May 23, 2014

Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA)


If you watch the news, it is usually a big time bummer, but there are still plenty of good things that happen out there in our world. One of these is the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) program.

YOLA was started by the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s musical director, Gustavo Dudamel, and it is based on El Sistema, the Venezuelan program that nurtured his musical career. The Phil and its community partners provide music education and training, as well as educational assistance to students from underserved neighborhoods. I am a believer in the power of music, and know that this type of approach will foster inclusiveness and help kids grow into thinkers and leaders, all while helping to change our neighborhoods for the better.

The biggest and most accessible component of the organization is the YOLA Neighborhood Project (YNP), whose goal is to improve the community through universal access to music. The YNP is a multi-pronged approach, which encourages local students to join YOLA, while parent ensembles provide families with the opportunity to learn music. As a part of the program, LA Philharmonic neighborhood concerts allow thousands of residents to see one of the world's greatest orchestras at no cost to them. The highlight of the YNP is the annual joint performance of over 1,000 students from partner schools and YOLA.

There are also three YOLA programs that support over 600 Southland students:

-- YOLA at EXPO Center in South Los Angeles includes three orchestras, a preschool, mentorship, group lessons, chamber music and parent ensembles. Students attend four days each week and they perform annually at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and regularly at the Hollywood Bowl. ‘

-- YOLA at HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles) is in the Rampart District, and it provides after-school orchestral instruction five days a week. Their activities include music creativity, singing, ensemble rehearsals, and an hour of academic tutoring daily.

-- YOLA at LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts) is located on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles. This is a high-intensity guarantees that each student receives at least 15 hours of musical instruction and academic tutoring per week.

Programs like Youth Orchestra LA help give me hope for our future, and I hope you get the chance to check out the results of their efforts. By the way, in the US there are now around 100 El Sistema inspired music education programs, so chanced are good that there is one near you. Please help them out if you can.


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