YOLA makes dreams of social change through music into reality

Posted on: May 24, 2013

In the May 23 L.A. Weekly, L.J. Williamson writes, “When her son Jacob was barely a year old, Teresa Esquivel noticed that music powerfully affected his demeanor. … Jacob’s parents live in South Central L.A.—Teresa works at the DMV, husband Peter at a motorcycle shop. Now that the shop is more established, things are better, but when the family was just starting out, Peter Esquivel says private lessons for his music-obsessed son would have been out of reach. Until, that is, the family discovered Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. The organization provides free music instruction to kids in underserved areas of the city, with the motto ‘Social Change Through Music.’ That phrase at first might sound grandiose, even starry-eyed. But a closer examination of the program’s methods makes its lofty goals look less like dreamy idealism and more like achievable reality. … The Youth Orchestra is demanding: Students and parents sign a contract committing to a yearlong schedule of daily after-school rehearsals. But the program’s goal is not to churn out professional musicians, conductor Bruce Kiesling says, but rather to teach social skills, leadership and the value of hard work. … ‘We hope that they get a sense that music can take them places, but also we want them to learn that working hard at anything can take them places,’ he says.”

Posted May 24, 2013