Hawaii Youth Symphony

What Does Outreach Mean to Us?

No matter who you are or where you live, you should have access to music education! Since there are many communities across our island chain that have limited access, we strive to make music accessible to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn an instrument. Through our 2023 He Makana O Nā Mele: The Gift of Music fundraiser, our goal is to raise money and awareness to be able to grow our outreach programs. 

Though often overlooked by school systems nationwide, the arts are a crucial part of a well-rounded education. Keep reading to learn more about what outreach means to us and how it helps us bring music education to underserved areas in Hawaiʻi! 

Enriching and Empowering Kids Through Music

When you boil it down, early music education broadens our youth’s horizons in TWO very important ways- they enrich our keiki’s lives and empower them to love learning and develop their passions.

Empowerment can be defined as giving individuals the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take control of their own lives and make positive choices. And music does exactly that. We’ve seen our students fall in love with music, and take it upon themselves to seek out more and more ways to get involved. Whether that’s auditioning for a competitive music program, starting a band with their friends or a music club at their school, or going after something completely different, giving them a strong start in music inspires them to follow their dreams. Music is not just a form of entertainment; it empowers our youth and shows them that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve in life.

Now, let’s talk about enrichment! We seek to enhance keiki’s lives by providing them with inspiring and supportive adult mentors and new friends they wouldn’t otherwise have met. Our outreach programs are not just about bringing instruments and music classes to schools and afterschool programs that lack them. That’s a huge part of it! But one of the biggest opportunities that playing in one of Hawaii Youth Symphony’s programs provides is a place to connect with peers in communities other than your own.

Prioritizing Underserved Areas in Hawaiʻi

We prioritize reaching communities where there may be financial barriers to accessing music education, as well as areas that lack adequate resources or infrastructure for music programs. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations, we offer affordable classes, free instrument loans, and financial aid, removing barriers that may otherwise prevent children from pursuing music education. 

What does our outreach programming look like? It can look a little different for different programs!

For example, each year we serve about ten elementary students in our Music in the Clubhouse Nānākuli Strings violin class. The class costs just $25/year to participate in, and our staff and teachers watch our students’ eyes brighten as they learn and grow confident in their playing. Over the course of the class, they learn discipline, creativity, and teamwork. Then, at the end of each semester, they get to participate in a joint rehearsal and concert performance with our Super Strings violin class on the opposite side of the island. This is really where the magic is. The kids are so supportive and welcoming of each other, and fostering this positive environment is one of our biggest priorities.

Though we don’t yet have music classes available in every community, we do our best each year to expand our reach. In 2018, we began offering our Molokaʻi String Workshop, and in 2023, we were excited to add a free bucket drumming class at Pālolo Elementary School!

We’re a non-profit organization with just a few full-time staff members, so if we can’t bring music to an area, we’re extremely grateful for our financial aid fund, which allows us to bring youth from all over the state to Oʻahu to meet other young musicians and work with our talented faculty.

We open our Symphony Program to young musicians across the islands. With average class sizes of as little as 90 students, youth in our islands’ rural areas may not have many peers who also play an instrument. We work with families on an individual basis to create a rehearsal schedule that works for them. Hawaii Youth Symphony also has funding available to cover costs associated with traveling to Oʻahu to play with a full symphony orchestra.

So whether we bring music education to our youth, or bring youth to music education, our outreach programs enhance their lives and learning.

Uplifting Our ʻOhana

By investing in music education, we are investing in the future of our communities. Music sparks joy and uplifts, all while being an incredible tool for learning. If you want to hear about the impact of music education first hand, our amazing ‘ohana has you covered. 

“Music education is all about learning how to learn,” explains Music in the Clubhouse percussion instructor Chris Cabrera, “the vehicle by which music educators teach is one that is fun and enjoyable for many children, but the process of learning is universal. If a student can learn how to play their drum rudiments or musical scales, they can learn how to code or paint.”

Chris Cabrera, Pālolo Elementary School

Speaking of fun, our Nānākuli Strings students said that music makes them feel happy, uplifted, and motivated. One keiki said “I like that we get to come in and we get to have fun with friends and have a good teacher with us,” and another said, “my favorite thing about music class is my friends, learning all the chords to violin, and just being with everybody and playing!” 

Hawaii Youth Symphony’s Music in the Clubhouse program has been providing students with introductory music programs for over 14 years. Micaela and Valentina Diaz-Paez joined HYS through the Academy String Program at the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii’s Spalding Clubhouse, where they both also learned to play the ‘ukulele in Music in the Clubhouse. They continued to progress through HYS’s ensembles, graduating high school in 2021 as members of Youth Symphony I, HYS’s most advanced orchestra. 

Michaela and Valentina Diaz-Paez

“My parents grew up in a place where they didn’t have any music education, so when we came to the United States, they wanted that for us. My mom tried to take up the violin but she had to give it up because her lessons were two hours away and it got a little too expensive. So they wanted that for us and she found this program,” Micaela said. “I have worked with amazing people and gotten opportunities that I would not have been able to receive elsewhere. My fondest memories include the interisland trips to Maui and Kauaʻi. In a way, graduating from HYS will be harder than graduating from high school as this has been my family for the past ten years.”

We’re always proud to hear that our students not only progressed in music, but found a community to call home. Mahalo to our community partners, teachers, staff, and all our supporters who make it possible for our youth to experience the gift of music!

The Gift of Music Silent Auction

Our outreach initiatives help bridge the gap in music education opportunities in underserved areas in Hawaiʻi. We understand that music is not only a form of art but also a powerful tool for personal and community development. By bringing music education to these communities, we hope to inspire a love for music, foster creativity, and provide opportunities for children to thrive.

If you’re interested in supporting HYS and our outreach initiatives, follow us on social media or join our email list to hear more about how you can participate in our Nā Mele 2023 silent auction this November. Amazing individuals and local businesses have generously donated a variety of items and experiences to bid on. If you win an auction item, your donation to our 501(c)3 organization will go directly towards providing music education to Hawaiʻi’s youth. You can participate in the silent auction from anywhere by registering now through our online GiveSmart page

And if you’re interested in learning more about our organization and programming, make sure to check out our website and other blogs.

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