The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Young String | Photo credit : Sharen Bradford

More Than The Music: Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings Program Provides Lifelong Skills

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4 mins read

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings program is celebrating 30 years of empowering local students through musical education and increasing diversity in American orchestras. The program began 30 years ago to give students without access to private lessons and music programs in their schools the opportunity to learn to play a string instrument.

The Young Strings program provides instruments and specialized instruction, free of charge, to hundreds of underrepresented students each year ranging from elementary to high school. The Young Strings musicians rehearse on a weekly basis, many receiving instruction from Dallas Symphony Orchestra musicians.

This program has produced impressive results since 1992:

  • The Young Strings program has a 100% high school graduation rate, largely due to the connection between musical education and its benefits on academic instruction within the classroom. A study conducted by the National Endowment for Arts, which controlled for pre-existing systematic differences between students who choose to study the arts and those who do not, found that arts students are more likely to find school engaging, attend a postsecondary school, and earn a four-year college degree.

  • The program has served over 5,000 Dallas students by developing the talents of exceptional and underrepresented strings players by providing free lessons, skill development opportunities, and structured extracurricular activities that enhance the integrated educational experience of its instruction.

  • The program has maintained relationships with alumni regardless of their career paths. Several alumni of the Young Strings programs are now music instructors within Dallas Independent School District and one alumnus has been a Young Strings instructor for over seven years. Several former students are regular donors and patrons of the program.

Children learning a musical instrument and spending time with the arts has benefits outside of the music classroom:

  • A five-year study conducted by the University of Southern California has shown that music education increases brain function in students of all ages. This increased brain function is most prevalent in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception, and reading skills.

  • According to a study by College Board, students who study music and art for more than four years have measurable increases in scores in critical reading, mathematics, and writing sections of the SAT over students who only study music or art for half a year or less. Musical education exercises the skills of understanding a set of rules and logic with an application of abstract thinking which forms a similar thinking pattern for students in their academic studies and standardized testing.

While a majority of Young Strings musicians continue their musical education in college or begin a career within the music industry, the benefits of practicing classical music in adolescence, not only increase academic performance in high school but also create opportunities for higher education within the music industry and beyond.

For those looking to support the Young Strings program and its mission to empower young musicians with in Dallas, through monetary donations, please email Carolyn Jabr at c.jabr@dalsym.com.

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