Youth Music Exchange #2: Old Town School of Folk Music and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra

 In The CAPE Blog, Youth Music Exchange

As part of the second Youth Music Exchange event, a DCASE initiative for the Year of Chicago Music curated by CAPE, classes from the Old Town School of Folk Music (OTS) and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) met via Zoom on Tuesday, December 2, 2020. The event consisted of a series of small breakout sessions to engage their students in a deeper dialogue about music and their communities.cape-cyso-ots-youth-music-exchangeFounded in 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities. CYSO provides music education to more than 650 young musicians ages 6-18 through full and string orchestras, jazz, steel, chamber music, masterclasses, and music composition. Both organizations serve students from neighborhoods across Chicago.

OTS and CYSO met prior to the event to create questions that their students could answer in smaller breakout groups. Questions ranged from basic introductions, such as their name and instrument they play, to more complex dialogue, such as discussing the cultural origins of their favorite pieces of music. These questions were able to facilitate conversations among youth from different organizations, genres, and musical backgrounds.

Many students excitedly shared their fascination for the new types of instruments they learned about from this event, such as the banjo and the mandolin. Students also shared their desire to learn new instruments, as one student stated, “All three of us [in the breakout room] actually want to learn how to play the acoustic guitar. That was pretty cool.”


Other students appreciated just having the time to connect to other young musicians, whether it was specifically focused on music dialogue or not. One student stated that their favorite part of this event was when they would “talk about random stuff,” and that they have “missed people in 2020.” This excitement was felt by all members and CAPE staff who participated in this event. Thank you to the Old Town School of Folk Music and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra for not only participating in the Youth Music Exchange event, but also for creating an environment so conducive to sharing stories and building community across genres and neighborhoods.

For more info and how to apply:

Hear what some of our students had to say:


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