Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program, providing mentorship and keeping students connected to music

Posted on: November 1, 2021

Young violinists in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids music education program practice with the BSO at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in 2019. Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor

“Mentoring can be life-changing, as participants in Sisters Circle and other [Baltimore-based] programs, including Mentoring Male Teens in the Hood and OrchKids, clearly demonstrate,” writes Lynne Agress writes in Thursday’s (10/28) Baltimore Sun. “OrchKids … was begun in 2008 by former Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop, who partially funded the program from a $100,000 MacArthur Fellowship grant she was awarded. OrchKids started with 30 kids at one city elementary school. Today, 10 schools and 2,000 students participate in this amazingly successful in-school and after-school program. The OrchKids staff believe music can change peoples’ lives. And it has.… Asia Palmer, an original OrchKid, was in first grade when the program began in 2008. Her two brothers subsequently joined OrchKids and her mother is now on the OrchKids’ staff. The first in her family to attend college, Asia is in her third year in the Hartt Music Program at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where she is studying flute and music management…. During COVID-19, all three groups have remained involved with their mentees. They provided computers to those who needed them to participate in Zoom programs—including music lessons for OrchKids…. All three groups also provided meals for families in need.”