Enrichment Programs

From reading workshops to masterclasses, explore your passion at MYSO

Mastering Your Craft at MYSO

MYSO offers a range of opportunities beyond your immediate ensemble to satisfy your creative musical thirst or hone your musical skills.

Music theory and composition courses allow you to strengthen your foundation or spread your creative wings.

Chamber ensembles, concerto competitions, masterclasses, and reading workshops with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra focus on improving your technical mastery and musicality.

All are coached or taught by the region’s most sought-after musicians, music educators, and teaching artists.

Composition - John Downey Creation Project

The John Downey Creation Project gives select MYSO students the opportunity to compose their own piece with the guidance of a professional composer. The composition is given its world premiere by a MYSO ensemble.

This program is named in memory of world-renowned composer John Downey, resident composer, theory instruction director, and dear friend of MYSO for more than 40 years.

Concerto Competitions

MYSO offers concerto competitions for seven of the MYSO ensembles—Senior Symphony, Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Sinfonia, String Orchestra, Chamber Flute Ensemble, and Flute Chorale.

Winners receive the opportunity to perform their solo piece accompanied by members of their own ensemble.

The winner of the Senior Symphony Concerto Competition also receives the Carrie Rondeau Memorial Concerto Scholarship.

Conversation Series

Each season, MYSO presents several free 90-minute sessions especially for parents of MYSO students, led by Director of Theory Instruction and Composition Jim Burmeister, covering a variety of composers and interesting music related topics.

Parents can educate themselves on what our young musicians are learning at MYSO in a casual, fun environment, with a knowledgeable (and very approachable) guide!

Chamber Music at MYSO

Honors Chamber Music Program with Frank Almond

Honors Chamber Music with Frank Almond is the premiere chamber music program at MYSO. Led by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and MYSO Artist-in-Residence Frank Almond, the program provides an advanced chamber music experience for our most accomplished players. Drawn from Senior Symphony by invitation only, the repertoire will focus on complete works from the standard repertoire.

Davidson Chamber Music Program

2020-21 marked the 35th year that MYSO will offer the Davidson Chamber Music Program. For intermediate to advanced musicians from grades 6-12, this program features ten hours of coaching by a professional musical artist. Ensembles from trios to nonets explore new and old chamber music. Approximately 100 participate in the program annually. The culminating event is a set of four recitals presented in the spring.

MYSO Community Artists

Each season MYSO receives requests for approximately 150 performances for community outreach performances and/or spoken testimonials. These performances are an important for awareness of MYSO’s work in the community and for nurturing important relationships with our donors. These performances are available to soloists, duo, trios, and larger chamber ensembles.

Erika Z. Richman Reading Workshop

Since 1995, MYSO and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) have sponsored a wonderfully exciting sight-reading session, open to members of MYSO’s Senior Symphony and Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.

Students read a few very challenging works, under the leadership of MSO and MYSO conductors, from the great orchestral repertoire, with MSO members playing side-by-side MYSO players. This is made possible through a generous endowment bequest from the late Erika Z. Richman.

This program takes place in early summer at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

Master Classes

MYSO is pleased to offer periodic master classes led by Milwaukee area and visiting professional musicians.

A master class is a learning opportunity for students from an expert on their instrument. This clinician will give hints, pointers, and practice suggestions to students to improve rehearsal, practice, and performance on the instrument. This clinician’s advice will be helpful to everyone who attends, not just those students who are invited to play for the clinician.

At a master class, you will learn more about your instrument and musicianship, sharpen your skills for upcoming auditions, and have the opportunity to ask questions about a variety of musical topics.

Recording Sessions

MYSO offers its members the opportunity for an individual professional recording session. This is a great chance to record for college applications, competitions, gifts, or just for posterity. There is a nominal cost involved.

Participating musicians receive an unedited CD recording the same day. Further details will be sent via email and announced in rehearsals.

Music Theory Classes

Theory I: Introductory/Intermediate

Scales, intervals, chords, harmonic and choral analysis, sight singing, ear training, harmony, and keyboard harmony will be the topics of these classes.

  • When: Mondays, September through April, late afternoon
  • Where: Milwaukee Youth Arts Center
Theory II: Advanced

Topics include sight singing, ear training, harmony, keyboard improvisation, analysis, and composition.

  • When: Mondays, September through April, early evening
  • Where: Milwaukee Youth Arts Center


Every two years, advanced MYSO ensembles will embark on international and/or domestic performance tours.

Touring offers extraordinary opportunities for social and cultural growth, as well as sheer fun and excitement. With the expectation of an outstanding musical experience, touring helps an ensemble—and the individual players—to bond socially. Often they are catapulted to an entirely new level of musical performance, both before and during the tour.

MYSO’s wonderful performances in Ireland in July 2019, as well as in Argentina, Uruguay, Canada, China, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Italy, and Scotland in previous years, are all evidence of that phenomenon. For all of these reasons, touring is an exceptionally valuable—sometimes life-changing—facet of a youth orchestra experience.

Side-by-Side Rehearsals (Mentoring)

MYSO provides opportunities for its musicians to be role models and mentors in “side-by-side” rehearsals with younger players, pairing advanced musicians with those from String Orchestra and Progressions, MYSO’s youngest string players.

Are You Interested in One of Our Programs Above?

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