The Chicago Youth Orchestra (CYO), located in Clarendon Hills, stands as a beacon of hope for young musicians seeking to explore their talents and immerse themselves in the world of music. Founded with the vision of fostering a strong sense of community and artistic growth, the CYO has been instrumental in shaping the lives of countless aspiring musicians.

With the ever-growing number of young musicians, the Chicago Youth Orchestra is the perfect place for your child to start their musical journey. The CYO is conducted by Nick Wallin, who is also the associate music professor at Lake Forest College. Any middle or high school student who embraces a strong musical foundation is encouraged to submit an audition at

Along with regular workshops, and performances, the orchestra rehearses on Saturdays from September through May. Students of the CYO receive top-notch training that extends beyond just musical expertise. They gain valuable life skills, learn the importance of perseverance, and develop a deep appreciation for the arts.

Each rehearsal starts with a small group sectional led by well-known names in the music education world and ends with a large group rehearsal with the entire orchestra. This method allows the musicians to single out difficult parts in their music and practice with other kids who play their same instrument. Sectionals eliminate wasted time during group rehearsal when specific sections are required to learn their parts on the spot.

During large group rehearsal, the orchestra runs their pieces and works through difficult areas as a whole too. Specific things the group may work on would be maintaining a steady tempo, playing together, musicality notations such as dynamics and articulation as well as many others.

The CYO has a goal to serve students and make them better all-round musicians. One particular way the CYO accomplished this was to develop a new program called the Concerto Competition. The students compete to perform as a soloist at the 2024 orchestra concert.

Those who are avid musicians know that working on a solo piece has a multitude of benefits. The CYO decided to start this competition because it is yet another great way to help young musicians thrive and consistently grow their musical knowledge.

Performing in front of an audience is a vital aspect of a musician’s growth, and the CYO ensures its members have ample opportunities to showcase their talents. The organization hosts regular concerts and recitals throughout the year, providing the young performers with a chance to shine and gain valuable experience on stage.

The Chicago Youth Orchestra is not merely an institution for musical instruction but a tight-knit community that fosters lifelong friendships.

Many young musicians find camaraderie and support among their peers, creating bonds that extend well beyond their time with the orchestra. This sense of belonging further enhances the learning experience, encouraging a collaborative and supportive atmosphere that celebrates individual achievements and collective success.

The Youth of America Music Institute (AMI) partners with the CYO helping offer private lessons to each student. During a private lesson, the instructor and student work through challenging parts of the music and focus on technique, embouchure, musicality, and other necessary components to polishing a piece.

Youth of America Music Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Remus Badea. The goal of AMI is to provide music education to students of all levels, including adults.

As the orchestra continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly remain a shining example of excellence in music education, enriching the cultural fabric of the Chicagoland area and inspiring countless young musicians for generations to come. The CYO is excited to welcome new members this September! Join today at ■