Connecting with Community: Metropolitan Youth Orchestra

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is reaching out to children and families in the city through a development program called Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO).

MYO is a long-term program meant for kids to start at a young age and continue until they graduate high school.

Children as young as 3 years old are learning to play the violin at Pride Academy on the west side of Indianapolis. Betty Perry, the MYO Artistic Director, has been making one hour long visit per week to the day care for the last two years.

“There’s a sense of confidence because, one, we’re giving them a skill set that they can do that many people can’t do and they do it quite well,” says Perry. “Then we give them the opportunity to showcase what they’re able to do.”

Kelisiah Skidmore, 9, is one of 60 students who has been playing the violin for the two years it has been offered at Pride Academy.

“When I started playing the violin, that’s when I started getting As and Bs in school,” says Skidmore. “I’ve been getting Fs, Ds and Cs and when I started doing this, I’ve been getting As and Bs.”

Alisia Jackson, the executive director at Pride Academy, says most students involved in the weekly MYO program have seen increased academic achievement.

“[They’ve learned] discipline, self-respect, self-reliance, self-assurance, a lot of just characteristics that they just wouldn’t normally receive at this age,” Jackson said.

The MYO is designed to use the life skills learned in music instruction to engage youth in activities that discourage at-risk behaviors and keep them committed to staying in school.

“We’re a program for kids and for families and we’re making a difference in their lives,” says Perry.

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