The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO) includes 465 young musicians from 50 different communities who participate in nine ensembles.
(ABOVE: GDYO musicians range from age six to eighteen and come from 120 different schools. It is comprised of nine different ensembles who perform regularly, including free performances to increase community engagement. Courtesy photos)
“A lot of the kids participating in our ensemble, maybe have a band at their school or are homeschooled, so they get the opportunity to come and play with this full symphony orchestra,” said Kaitlyn Howell, director of development and marketing for GDYO. “They’re learning to collaborate; they’re learning structure.”
The GDYO, founded in 1972, cultivates learning and creativity, as well as social and motivational skill for young musicians. Students also get to interact with professional instructors, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Dallas Wind Symphony.
GDYO is set up similarly to a professional orchestra, so students can gain experience before pursuing careers in a professional symphony. Instructors also provide guidance and support for students.
“We’re providing a resource, skills training, and different beneficial traits that are great for kids in their educational process and growing up,” Howell said.
Along with the ensembles, GDYO has recently begun the DISD Community Engagement Programming which provides short-term and long-term capacity building, instruction, and supplies for DISD’s music programs.
“In the Dallas community, there is a huge gap in arts accessibility and arts education, and so being able to provide the opportunity for those kids” is a GDYO priority, Howell said.
GDYO met with DISD administration and discussed challenges such as not enough music instructors, limited resources, and budget cuts. GDYO, with the help of its parent’s guild, provided instruction and supplies such as music books for elementary music students.
After GDYO’s first year helping Anne Frank and Arthur Kramer Elementary, DISD offered a contract to expand. The organization now serves Benjamin Franklin middle school, along with classical and jazz workshops at five to ten DISD high schools.
Funds raised from the GDYO’s gala and season finale performance, “The Sights and Sounds of Paris,” will benefit this new programming which will, “contribute to helping close that gap for accessibility in Dallas,” Howell said.