Our impact

Since 1960, the DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) has fostered the musical development and transformed the lives of over 50,000 youth. As a learning organization, DCYOP continually evaluates our students’ progress and the short and long-term impact of our programs on their lives and communities. We also continually evaluate our impact on the student, family and community level through jury evaluations, pre and post-test surveys, and data collected through our school partnerships.

This program isn’t just about being the best player in your section, or even getting into the Youth Orchestra for the sake of being the “best”. In these past two years, I’ve created lasting friendships that are sure to last. Improved to skills I still can’t believe I’ve developed. All while joining my family of music I call DCYOP.

Allan O.current student

The District of Columbia Youth Orchestra personifies what this country is all about: it aspires to perfection, knows no race, and creates beauty for an audience of families.

Mayor Walter E. Washington

As a parent, it is hard to always know if you are making the right choices for your child. To see my daughter so self-motivated to come to class and also motivated to practice daily helps me feel like we are getting it right for her. All the time, energy and money is worth it. I am thankful for DCYOP!


I have so many favorite memories…I adored playing some pieces like Beethoven 7, Finlandia, and Billy the Kid, doing NSO side-by-sides at the Kennedy Center, accompanying vocalists singing Ella Fitzgerald in concerts outdoors at DC parks, playing under great conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel and Giandrea Noseda, competing in and winning the program’s concerto competition, and being able to finish it all off with a tour across the Atlantic. I am so grateful for my entire time with the orchestra, I really can’t imagine a Saturday morning without it.

John Joireviolin and french horn (2008-2022)
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Our programs

The DC Youth Orchestra Program offers group lessons and ensemble training on all orchestral instruments for students ages 4 ½ to 18. All of our ensemble programs and beginner instrument group lessons take places on Saturdays at Takoma Elementary School throughout the school year.

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Nurturing Citizen-Musicians

At DCYOP, we define “excellence” differently. Teachers and staff are focused on helping students succeed as musicians and in life. Some of our students become virtuosos and many will find careers in music, but that is not the only goal.

Teachers work with students on technique, developing an emotional vocabulary for music and expressing themselves through music, and developing confidence and leadership, which extends well beyond music. We consistently see and hear from students and their parents/guardians about the impact of DCYOP on their lives.

  • Students demonstrate higher academic achievement relative to their peers.
  • Students become advocates for music and music education in their communities.
  • Students are more prepared for college and professional careers.

In May 2022, 100% of students achieved satisfactory musical progress as measured by jury evaluations, and 41% advanced to the next level in our curriculum.

Our teaching artists are top-tier musicians who are committed to building students’ self-esteem and helping them develop invaluable life skills, including self-discipline, teamwork, and persistence.

Who we serve

500+ students ages 4 to 18
200+ schools
100 zip codes
26% Black
9% Asian/Pacific Islander
22% more than one race
9% Latinx
0.5% American Indian or Alaskan Native