Conducting a Way of Life

Conducting a way of life

The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra teaches Indianapolis students skills that go beyond the stage

At the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO), a youth and family development program of the Indianapolis Symphony, music lessons are about more than learning to play an instrument. “We use music as a vehicle to teach life skills and college readiness,” says MYO director Krystle Ford. “When kids have arts in their lives, they also grow up to become the next generation of arts patrons, concert goers, donors, and arts advocates.”

In the above video, Ford, an alumna of the orchestra herself, discusses the MYO’s programs and how the group has approached teaching and performing since the coronavirus put a stop to in-person rehearsals and concerts.

The MYO serves students age 5 to 18, including youth from low-income neighborhoods in central Indianapolis and those from schools without arts education. When young children join the orchestra, parents must take up take up an instrument too, a level of participation that helps keep kids in the program for a long haul and keeps parents connected. And, “Because the parents participate, the program helps foster a racially and socioeconomically diverse community,” Ford says.

Though the coronavirus challenged that sense of community, the MYO was able to quickly move classes, practices and check-ins with students and parents online, assisted by a $25,000 gift from Bank of America, part of the bank’s $100 million commitment to support local community needs in response to the coronavirus.

Ford notes that the new initiatives, including online performances and instructional videos have helped the MYO reach a larger audience and may become part of the permanent curriculum. But it has also highlighted how much more work there is to be done. “The coronavirus has really revealed inequities in our community,” Ford says. “It has shown that some kids have more resources than others, like stable internet and computers. That makes a big difference with access to education.”

As nonprofits adjust to addressing increased needs in their local communities, Bank of America is committed to supporting them. Learn more about the bank’s $100 million philanthropic commitment to more than 1,300 nonprofits on the front lines, which is in addition to our annual $250 million in philanthropic giving, as well as our $250 million capital commitment to assist local businesses.