Youth Music Exchange: An initiative of the Year of Chicago Music Curated by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education

 In The CAPE Blog, Youth Music Exchange

We’re excited to share our most recent report for Youth Music exchange titled, Youth Music Exchange: An initiative of the Year of Chicago Music Curated by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education. A report by CAPE/YME Project Leader: Joseph Spilberg, CAPE/YME Research Program Coordinator: Jenny Lee, and CAPE/YME Administrative Assistant: Akie Kadota.

You may find the overview, program description, and Alignment with City Initiatives below, or to read the full report, click here.

Youth Music Exchange: An initiative of the Year of Chicago Music Curated by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education


The Youth Music Exchange (YME) Project was curated and implemented by Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), in collaboration with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), to serve as a new pilot program for the Year of Chicago Music (YOCM). Building on community input received through the YOCM Youth and Education Working Group in the Fall of 2019, the pilot created a series of music “exchanges” across neighborhood-based youth music programs. In alignment with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s commitment to equity and intentional efforts to bring resources to neighborhoods, the model intended to facilitate peer learning and encourage young people to see the arts as an opportunity for exploring communities outside of their neighborhood.

Program Description: 

Originally the YME Project was envisioned as an in-person effort. CAPE staff worked with DCASE to shift to an online format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent remote learning and public safety guidelines provided by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Beginning in summer 2020, music teachers and arts educators from community-based organizations (CBO) applied to receive support to enable a cross-neighborhood, cross-program, and/or cross-school exchange. The youth had the opportunity to jointly learn, rehearse and share their musical development with each other. Youth music ensembles convened online via Zoom or Google Meet to dialogue and provided feedback to one another, but above all else, share a space to promote community building and a sense of connectedness among young musicians in this most unusual and socially isolating year. Youth voice, dialogue, and engagement were critical components structured into each exchange event during planning with teachers and teaching artists.

Connected to each YME event were subsequent social media celebrations of the participating students and their teachers. In coordination with communications managers of each participating youth group or school, CAPE staff posted documentation and descriptions of the events with images, videos, and quotes from students and instructors. These online celebrations served the dual purpose of lifting the voices of the youth involved and promoting the city’s rich cultural music heritage being propelled and expanded upon by youth and educators in the spirit of DCASE’s Year of Chicago Music.

Alignment with City Initiatives

The Chicago Youth Music Exchange Program supported the Year of Chicago Music goals of engaging Chicago youth broadly through music and providing a peer-learning platform for youth to experience a unique musical collaboration and interaction. The program also aligned with broad citywide efforts to engage and support Chicago’s youth throughout its neighborhoods.

The program model was inclusive but also attentive to broader considerations of equity and the City’s aim to focus intensive resources on certain disinvested areas of the city. The YME Project provided:

  • a quality program engaging Chicago’s youth music programs while prominently featuring the Year of Chicago Music and aligning with City priorities with youth
  • an intentional outreach strategy that engages with youth across Chicago while having the capability to target communities in alignment with City priorities with youth
  • recognition and evaluation as needed and agreed upon per City and program funders

To read the full report, click here.

To view our Youth Music Exchange projects click here.

Comment below to let us what fun fact you learned from this report. Before you go, sign-up for our newsletter to never miss an update and follow us on social media for more #artsed inspiration! Facebook | Twitter Instagram | YouTube LinkedIn



Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.