For 10 hours a week in Price Hill, young neighbors gather together to study music. MYCincinnati (Music for Youth in Cincinnati) is a youth orchestra that draws inspiration from the revolutionary El Sistema music program in Venezuela, providing free instruments and daily instruction to children in Price Hill.
On March 8, the students will take the stage at Music Hall under the direction of Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Conductor John Morris Russell. “I love the MYCincinnati kids--they are awesome! They perform with passion and heart and express such exuberance in their music-making,” says Russell. “As a teacher, I learn as much from them as they do from me: dedication, teamwork and especially love of beauty. It's a joy working with them!”
We asked Program Director Laura Jekel to share with us how this program impacts the community.
How does MYCincinnati improve access to the arts for Price Hill youth?
I think the idea of learning an instrument is appealing to many children. A lot of our students, when we ask them why they joined MYCincinnati, say "I had always wanted to play the violin." We have 60 students who come every day for two hours after school - that's a lot of dedication!
What is the impact that MYCincinnati has on its student musicians? What about its impact on the Price Hill neighborhood?
I believe that the young musicians in MYCincinnati have developed a lot of self-confidence. They perform all over Cincinnati, and will be performing on the main stage of Music Hall in March - that is a really empowering experience for a young person to have. When we perform in Price Hill, it’s great to see a large audience of community members. I believe that the arts are a great way to bring people together, in this case to celebrate the talented youth in their very own community.
How has ArtsWave’s support helped MYCincinnati grow?
ArtsWave has provided funding for MYCincinnati since our first year. Even when we first started and were very grassroots, ArtsWave invested in us, and that early investment really helped us grow to where we are now. They've also provided invaluable advice.
What upcoming concerts are your student musicians most excited to play?
We have been working really hard to prepare for our concert on March 8th, part of the Macy's Arts Sampler. John Morris Russell will be conducting us, and it's on the stage of Music Hall, so the pressure is on! We chose hard repertoire that we thought would appeal to families - Bartok Romanian Folk Dances - and we're working hard to get ready.
We've played on the balcony of Music Hall many times, and the first time we played there, one of the MYCincinnati kids said "someday we'll be on the big stage." Well, the time has come! We can't wait.