MYO Impact Study

MYO Overview

Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Emeritus Betty Perry, MYO became a program of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2008. MYO currently serves 220 students and their families – developing not only musical skills, but life skills to support success after high school. The program is unique in the family development aspect, as a parent/guardian learns a string instrument alongside their student for the first several years. From community meals served at rehearsals to social events, volunteer opportunities, and more, MYO cultivates a culture of support for students and families who participate.

Community Solutions, an Indianapolis-based development and evaluation consulting firm, gathered insight on MYO through surveys, focus groups, and program data. Current and former MYO students and parents were surveyed, and focus groups were held for MYO staff, current students, and current parents. These surveys and focus groups allowed the team to collect information on the four main areas of focus in this study: retention, family impact, relationship to music, and post-MYO life.

Key findings include:

  • Benefits of participation in the program are apparent after one year and grow over time, especially with long-term participation.
  • Student benefits include musical progression, making friends, learning valuable life skills, and a greater appreciation of music.
  • The two primary challenges to student retention are balancing MYO and other extracurriculars/responsibilities and a student’s lack of confidence in their musical skill.
Family Impact
  • MYO is a partner to parents in developing life skills: social, communication, self-confidence, and discipline.
  • MYO is welcoming and establishes a culturally responsive learning environment.
  • Families, regardless of background or financial means, feel supported and that they can access the benefits of MYO.
Relationship to Music
  • MYO participants attend musical events more frequently.
  • Many participants and alumni continued or plan to continue playing music after leaving MYO.
Post-MYO Life
  • MYO affords key opportunities that lead to interest in and access to post-secondary success.
  • As a result of their participation in MYO, students learn to develop important skills including discipline and perseverance, which can be applied to other areas of their lives and boost success after high school.

The impact study also provided the ISO valuable perspective on areas of growth opportunity to focus on in the years to come, including:

  • Facilitating carpool or transportation support for families.
  • Providing additional support and encouragement for students who are in middle school or elementary school and/or those who lack confidence in their musical skill, which are key points of vulnerability for students quitting MYO.
  • Working with students to help them figure out the best ways to balance MYO with other activities to ensure they stay engaged with MYO while still feeding their other interests.

Get to know more about MYO Director Krystle Ford and the importance of relationships and culture in the program: