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 harness your creative vision.

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 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.

Conversations Series

Each season, MYSO presents several free one-hour 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

Chamber Ensembles Program

Ensembles from trios to nonets explore new and old chamber music and receive ten hours of coaching by a professional teaching artist. The program’s sessions, led by Artist-in-Residence Frank Almond, conclude with recitals. Intermediate to advanced musicians in grades 6-12 are eligible to apply. 2022-23 marks the 38th year of this program.

Chamber Music Conference

The Chamber Music Conference is an intensive 2-week summer experience focused on chamber music including rehearsals, coaching, technical instruction, observation, and performance.

For experienced young musicians, ages 12-20, who play violin, viola, cello or piano and who wish to expand their musicianship and leadership while studying with other motivated young artists. Non-MYSO members are also welcome to apply.

Click here for more information and to apply.

MYSO Community Artists

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

Music Theory Classes

Beginning Theory (grades 4-8)

Music fundamentals including note reading in treble, alto, tenor, and bass clefs, major and minor scales, intervals, triads, chords, sight singing, ear training, error detection, rhythm exercises, conducting, harmony, composing music, and more will be explored.

  • When: Wednesdays, September through April, late afternoon
  • Where: via Zoom
Intermediate/Advanced Theory (grades 6-12)

Following a brief review of music theory fundamentals, the class will continue with an in-depth study of analytical music theory including: analysis of musical excerpts from the repertoire, four-part writing, original composition, counterpoint, musical structures, sight-singing, and ear training. Prior experience with beginning music theory instruction is required.

  • When: Tuesdays, September through April, late afternoon
  • Where: via Zoom


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.

After a four-year hiatus, MYSO embarks on a tour of Belgium and the Netherlands in July 2023.

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 Wind Ensemble.

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.

Are You Interested in One of Our Programs Above?

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