For Schools - Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

At CYSO, we believe that every student has the right to a high quality music education. Creating a pathway for talented and committed young musicians to play at the highest level is integral to our mission, and we invest in our community through school-based ensembles and free concerts that reach more than 10,000 young people annually. 

CYSO@CPS In-School Programs

Moos Elementary

Neighborhood: Humbolt Park

Now in its 5th year, CYSO’s partnership with Moos Elementary gives 5th-8th grade band students the chance to dive deeper into their chosen instruments through weekly sectionals. Instrument-specific sectionals allow students to explore the unique technique and culture of their instruments. With individualized guidance from CYSO coaches, students progress more quickly and build strong band culture through teamwork.

Gallistel Language Academy

Neighborhood: East Side

CYSO’s partnership with Gallistel Language Academy helps beginner strings players start off right. Students’ regular daily orchestra instruction is paired with weekly sectionals with CYSO coaches to help build techniques while exploring the world of orchestral music for the first time. After the first year intensive, students have the option to continue small-group instruction in weekly group classes with CYSO’s string coach and join an extracurricular orchestra led by Gallistel’s music teacher.

Nixon Elementary

Neighborhood: Hermosa

CYSO’s hosts a rigorous and unique after-school steelpan program at Nixon Elementary featuring two classes that each meet two hours per week. Students without any prior instrumental music experience quickly gain the skills and confidence they need to be concert-ready in just a few months. Students learn through group practice, building a deep sense of community and developing skills together through peer mentoring. A traditionally Trinidadian art form, playing the steelpan allows young people to engage in universal elements of music such as rhythm, pitch, and ensembleship.

CYSO Preludes Program

Various Neighborhoods

CYSO’s free Preludes program builds authentic, consistent connections with CPS elementary schools with established instrumental music programs to build a strong foundation for long-term partnership. Over the course of the school year, partner schools and CYSO will get to know each other through meetings, concerts, field trips, and coaching opportunities. At the end of the year, schools have the opportunity to explore deeper partnerships with CYSO, including potentially becoming a new CYSO@CPS location.

Education Concerts

These free concerts offer field trip opportunities for CPS students to experience large ensemble music performed in the historic Studebaker Theater or Chicago Cultural Center by fellow young people. Conductors and CYSO performers develop programming designed to engage students and increase their knowledge of instruments, performance, and music history, as well as pre- and post-concert lessons teachers can use to enhance student learning. For CYSO musicians, these concerts create important opportunities for mentorship and demonstrate the power of music to engage and serve our communities

Ambassadors Program

The Ambassadors program brings CYSO Chamber Music students into Chicago Public Schools to perform educational and interactive concerts designed by the musicians themselves. For the CPS students in attendance, Ambassadors programs are often the first time they’ve experienced live music performed by young people, and may be their very first experience with live chamber music in general. CYSO students gain planning, empathy, and presentation skills as they learn from professional coaches to present an engaging program for the school audiences.

Learn More About Programming For Schools

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