Helping Teenage Students

The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.

Helping Teenage Students

Laura Jekel, Founder, and Eddy Kwon, Director, of MyCincinnati


The Youth Apprentice Program grew directly out of a need expressed by high school-aged students at MYCincinnati, an El Sistema-inspired program now entering its seventh year. They wanted to continue playing music at MYCincinnati, but they felt pressure to gain meaningful work experience, support their families, and begin a path toward financial independence. This new program provides meaningful employment, job training, and work experience for current MYCincinnati students.

The five Youth Apprentices hired in the pilot year have taken on leadership roles as teachers, teaching assistants, site coordinators, and staff assistants. These roles, supplemented by regular training and feedback sessions, have empowered the Youth Apprentices to take initiative, stay organized, collaborate with their peers, communicate concerns in a respectful way, and plan for their future.

This innovative youth employment program was made possible by a partnership between MYCincinnati and ArtWorks, a local arts nonprofit that has been employing Cincinnati youth for over 20 years. ArtWorks took care of hiring, payroll, and training. MYCincinnati provided the overall program design, the venue, oversight, and on-the-job-training by professional teaching artists.

Ziyad, a MYCincinnati double bassist who will participate in the 2017 National Take A Stand Festival, has loved his first year as a Youth Apprentice. Ziyad was the Teaching Assistant in MYCincinnati’s intermediate orchestra, leading rehearsals and conducting the ensemble. His year as an Apprentice culminated in conducting a side-by-side concert featuring the intermediate MYCincinnati Orchestra and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Ziyad plans to attend college for engineering, and has been preparing for his exams and applications with the help of MYCincinnati staff.

The Youth Apprentice Program has had an enormous impact on MYCincinnati. It is a way for long-time students to use the skills they have acquired to give back to the program, act as role models, and support MYCincinnati staff, all while gaining valuable skills that will help them in their next steps in life.

MYCincinnati is an El Sistema-inspired program in Cincinnati entering its seventh year. For more information about MYCincinnati and the Youth Apprentice Program, please contact


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