Community Impact Programs

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WYSO Music Makers Program

The WYSO Music Makers Program provides quality instruments, music, and bilingual instruction to a diverse group of underserved students who would like to learn instrumental music in a non-competitive environment. No audition or musical experience is necessary, and families pay only what they can afford. 75% of Music Makers students receive free-or-reduced meals and 59% speak a language other than English in the home. The impact of this program is tremendous. Not only does the availability of instrumental education change these students’ lives, but these young musicians perform at community concerts and celebrations, often changing the lives of the children watching from the audience.


WYSO strives to keep orchestra tuition costs accessible by only charging families 30% of actual program costs. In order to subsidize the other 70%, WYSO reaches out for funding to foundations, community service clubs, and donors. Additionally, 17% of WYSO orchestra students receive need-based scholarships to cover the family share of the tuition.

With recent research highlighting the importance of music education to developing strong communication and math skills, WYSO wants to ensure that any student who would like to participate in its programs has the resources to do so. The Music Makers suggested contribution of $40 per month covers less than 20% of actual costs. WYSO often covers 90-100% of the costs for students whose families have financial need.

School Touring

Each year, Opus One, Sinfonietta, Concert, and Philharmonia orchestra members travel by bus to area schools to perform in gymnasiums and auditoriums. They encounter enthusiastic audiences of students who have not previously experienced orchestral playing by such young, talented, and dedicated musicians. These inspiring performances have an impact as students who might not have considered learning to play an instrument realize that this could be within their reach.

Community Performances
for Seniors

WYSO members often share their Chamber Music Recitals and Guest Artist Masterclasses with senior citizens at retirement centers around the Madison area. As the students gain performance experience, the seniors enjoy watching dedicated young students perform classical repertoire without having to leave the facilities where they live.

Ambassador Program

Each year, members of WYSO’s Chamber Music and Ensemble programs volunteer to play music for service organization and community event programs. These students become ambassadors for the importance of the arts to young people while gaining experience in performance and personal demeanor.

Youth Arts Awards

In 2001, WYSO created and awarded the first RABIN YOUTH ARTS AWARD as a way to recognize individuals and organizations across Wisconsin for outstanding contributions in youth arts program development, teaching or performance. A second award was created to recognize individuals or organizations for significant monetary or in-kind support of youth arts initiatives (including sustained support and exceptional one-time projects). Since 2001, WYSO has celebrated the work of more than 30 outstanding Wisconsin Arts leaders who have been selected to receive this special award by a committee of their peers.