2018 Impact Study



ISO study on the impact of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra program


The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO) is a youth and family development program of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The program is designed to use the life skills learned through music instruction to engage youth in activities that discourage at-risk behaviors and keep them committed to staying in school.

MYO engages families in three distinct ways:

  • Musical development through a fun, engaging and challenging learning environment. Lesson and performance are tools we use, while a culture of support provides the foundation for skill development.
  • Character development through accountability, leadership and performance. Student mentorship and rehearsal preparation help our students achieve their goals.
  • Family development through social opportunities and shared experiences. Families learn from one another, meeting new people with diverse life experiences, while they work hard and have fun together.
Related History

MYO was established in 1995 by Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Betty Perry, with a home under the umbrella of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The program was established to serve families who, without MYO, were not likely to engage in an orchestra experience, with a focus on engaging the whole family rather than training one child to play an instrument.

While at the Children’s Museum, in 2002 and 2003, A Preliminary Study of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Program was completed by Barbara Wolf, Ph.D.

Beginning in 2004, the Children’s Museum shifted their programming priorities and MYO was on the move, landing with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, where the program remained for four years. MYO moved once again in 2008 to a new permanent home with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Current Program Structure

Grades served: K – 12th

Instruments: violin, viola, cello and bass

All students participate in: one private or semi-private lesson and one orchestra

MYO currently serves approximately 220 students and their families each year. Parents are expected to learn and play along with their children in the first few years and are invited to continue to play for the duration of the program.

Our Approach

As a program that touches on elements of the social service sector alongside the performing arts world, we are seeking proposals that are reflective of a collaborative, non-invasive approach to assessment that also emphasizes technical support.

Using this impact study as a starting point, we will prioritize proposals that help us establish a set of systems that will allow us to continue to obtain and evaluate responses from members and alumni over time. We would like to know if our program is effective in achieving its stated objectives, ultimately to influence our ongoing programmatic improvements in order to better serve our families. 

We are interested in minimizing non-essential reports, though deliverables must include an Evaluation Design Report.

The full budget for this project is $30,000.

Please note that the MYO program is most active August – May, so for greatest access to faculty and staff time, plan to maximize involvement of those groups during the summer months.

Understanding the Impact of MYO

We have identified four primary areas of impact that directly align with programmatic goals (retention, for example) and the overall mission of the program: Family Impact, Retention, Post-MYO Life, and Relationship to Music. Below are a series of questions that speak to these four areas:

  • Family Impact:

Do parents/guardians feel like MYO is a partner in helping their children develop life skills?
Are parents/guardians given the tools they need to support their child’s musical progress at home?
Do parents/guardians believe MYO provides a welcoming and culturally responsive learning environment?
Do background and family resources impact the way a student is able to access benefits of the MYO program?

  • Retention/Impact/Length of time in program:

Who are “alumni” versus graduates?

We have graduates who were only with us for their senior year
We have alumni who were with us until 10th or 11th grade and then chose not to return, but were with us for 10 or 11 years
At what point is someone considered an alumnus? After 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, more?

What number of years in the program does benefit appear? (1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 12 years?)

What are the points of vulnerability when a student is likely to leave MYO?

What motivates students/families to remain in the program?

What are the tactics used for kids who have found an ability to balance academics and sports with MYO?

Is there a difference in retention when the whole family participates? (siblings, parent/guardian)

  • Post-MYO life: monetary, career, stability

How many former students attended college or other post-high school education?
How many former students graduated from college or other post-high school education?
Are kids in MYO better able to set and achieve goals that apply to their post-MYO life as compared with a comparable group of kids who are not in MYO?
Evaluate the monetary success of MYO students
Evaluate the career trajectory of MYO students

  • Relationship to music:

What is their likelihood to donate, play their instrument, attend concerts as adults?
What is their attitude about musical experience?
Are they open-minded about music?


Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday, March 2, 2018 to rwolff@IndianapolisSymphony.org. Proposals should be attached to the email as a pdf.

Please submit the following in your proposal:

  • Overview of your organization or department
  • Background about the team or individual who will be working on the project and description of what their roles will be – share with us any notable expertise in work with diverse audiences, assessment involving minors, arts organizations or providing technical assistance.
  • Your approach to evaluation – tell us about your philosophy
  • Proposed scope of work – please include an anticipated schedule and anticipated start date, should your proposal be accepted
  • Please note approximately how many hours of work are expected to complete the project



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