Youth Music Exchange Project

 In The CAPE Blog, Youth Music Exchange

In partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), CAPE is curating the Youth Music Exchange (YME) program! YME seeks to empower and unite youth from across the city of Chicago through online and, eventually, in-person music exchanges.

Youth music ensembles from various neighborhoods, backgrounds, and genres can apply to be a part of the exchange. Once your application is reviewed, CAPE staff members will contact you for a preliminary meeting about your ensemble. After a planning meeting with CAPE staff, your ensemble will be matched with another ensemble. CAPE staff will introduce the two ensembles and coordinate a planning meeting in preparation for the exchange event.

Each pair of youth ensembles will work in collaboration with their students to produce a digital “care package” for the other ensemble. These pen pal-style exchanges can be a playlist of songs, a list of bands, recordings of the ensemble, etc., and are meant to introduce the two ensembles in a casual way that allows for further exploration during the culminating exchange event.

Once a date and time for the exchange event is in place, the two youth ensembles host their event on the digital platform that works for them (Google Meets, Zoom, etc.). During these online exchanges, the students  are encouraged to play music for each other, discuss their different genres and styles, and in general, enjoy each other’s company.

After an Exchange, we hope that the ensembles stay connected and participate in more digital  pen pal exchanges or other methods of communication. When it is designated safe by officials to have in-person gatherings again, we intend to provide a physical meeting space to exchange ideas, music, and food!

The YME program is already underway building new communities among young musicians and emphasize the importance of youth voice, dialogue and engagement as a critical component of the experience. Our first Exchange was between the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and A Flor De Piel!

During the Exchange, the Elementary School students asked the High School students, “What advice do you have for younger students who want to learn to play an instrument?” The High School students replied: “You can learn whatever you want to learn as long as you put in the dedication and the practice. I’d say there’s no limits.”

Thank you again to the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and A Flor De Piel for our first Youth Music Exchange!

Please contact us with any questions about the Youth Music Exchange Project, or apply here!

Joseph Spilberg, CAPE Associate Director of Education / YME Project Leader:

Jenny Lee, CAPE Research Program Coordinator / YME Social Media Coordinator:

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