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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Midwest Young Artists Conservatory

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Music, Symphony Orchestras

Mission: "To Build a Home with the Power of Music to Enrich the Lives of our Students and Community"

Results: MYA has gone from a single orchestra with 50 members and rented spaces in 1993, to an organization that now serves over 1,000 young people annually with a permanent rehearsal space in Highwood, Illinois that houses 9 orchestras, 65+ chamber ensembles, dozens of Jazz ensembles including combos and Big Bands, a wind symphony, choral ensembles, early childhood education classes, music theory & history classes, festivals, summer camps, and national concerto & chamber competitions.

Target demographics: children and young adults learn life skills through performance in music ensembles

Direct beneficiaries per year: almost 1,000 students

Geographic areas served: 78 Communities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana

Programs: Orchestra, Jazz Combos & Ensembles, Big Band, Chamber Ensembles, Early Childhood Music & Movement, Choral Ensembles and Music Theory classes.

Community Stories

147 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

Our family has been part of MYAC for over 20 years. Our daughters (now ages 30 and 28) participated in various MYAC orchestras, choral groups, and chamber orchestras from grade school through high school. They always looked forward to spending their weekends at their "second home" with MYAC friends and peers who shared their love of music, and they continue to perform and enjoy playing as young adults. Special performances at Symphony Center, Harris Theatre, and other venues, along with memorable tours in Spain, Portugal, China, and South Korea have fostered friendships both for our daughters and my wife and myself that continue today. Forever thankful that MYAC was there to support, encourage, and foster a passion for great music for our daughters, and we look forward to making sure it's there for future generations.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Music beautifies lives thus MYA is a life beauty salon and it sure made my family's life more beautiful.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter is a member of the Symphony Orchestra in MYAC and an intensive chamber program. She joined MTAC 3 years ago and since she then fell in love with the program, teachers and all MYAC offer as a music institution.
She wants to pursue a carrier in music and MYAC offers a variety of programs to help her prepare for the auditions.
MYAC is a great place for everyone who loves music, a wonderful atmosphere, and friendship. We will truly miss this place after graduation.

Writer

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Jazz program is spectacular. The instructors are very professional and help draw out highly advanced musical work from these young artists.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

“We are in our 3rd year of participation in MYAC. When I first looked into MYAC, I was trying to find a place for my youngest son to play in an orchestra since his grade school did not have one. After researching multiple groups, I decided to have him audition for MYAC. What most attracted me was the various levels of orchestra they have from introductory to their highest level, Symphony, which is as good and as well regarded as any established symphony.

MYAC has made my sons strive to be better musicians. The quality of student at MYAC pushes them to also push their limits. I especially appreciate the commitment the Dennis family and all the staff has to the institution and to the art of music.

I would describe MYAC as a family. The family volunteer requirement exemplifies the grass roots founding of MYAC and makes all families equally responsible for its continued viability and reputation.

All incoming families should know that MYAC is a place of excellence, a refuge for music lovers and a home for families looking to contribute in any way they can to the success and continued development of music in our communities. The value it brings to my family and to the community at large is priceless.”

- Martha P. Arroyo, MYAC Parent

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We are so impressed with the musical direction at MYA. The instructors are passionate, enthusiastic, and brilliant. They have an incredible ability to balance discipline, hard work, and fun so that the students work hard, learn, grow, and have fun while doing it.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Many organizations focus entirely on results. This organization focuses on the heart, fostering a love for music, and the results far exceed anything imaginable. Not that long ago, my daughter was "that" child who was practically kicking her instrument in its case down the sidewalk on the way to lesson and who loathed practice. However, the very first day she was introduced to MYAC, she said that she HAD to be a part of what was going on there. She started in Philharmonia, successfully auditioned for Concert Orchestra the next year, and now is incredibly excited to be a part of the Symphony Orchestra. A once reluctant musician, she now hopes to be a performance major in college some day! Thank you MYAC for starting with the heart!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son joined jazz big band and merit combo. He has been MYAC’s member from last year. Great teachers and he has very good experience here at MYAC.

Zoe R.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter simply loves singing and we are incredibly fortunate to have an amazing conservatory right in our backyard! Stevi Marks is the tireless and passionate director of the choir and brings so much talent and dedication to the table. She is friendly and demanding and simply gets the best out of our children because she expects it. This place is a godsend for anyone musically inclined. My youngest son also receives private bass lessons here as they are a mecca for teachers and students to come together and progress. So so grateful for this gem of talent and kindness. The owners are inspirational and awesome, in the true sense of the word. Dr. Dennis is charismatic and so good with the children and his wife, Karen, is a quiet and modest powerhouse who gets so much done for everyone and doesn't think twice about it. We are so blessed!

Delia Hernandez G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

MYA has been a blessing for our daughter Clarissa Garcia. She has a passion for music and we're so fortunate that due to MYA scholarships she has been able to be part of such an amazing Music CONSERVATORY where she has played Violin for the past 3 years and Cello for 2 years. Thanks for helping her make her music dreams come true.

JJButler7

Donor

Rating: 5

My son is now a sophomore at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music, on a full benefit called the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship. He was a good music student, but it didn't really take off until he joined Midwest Young Artists. This became his second home and what he learned there about music is only surpassed by what he learned about being a good person. Dr. Dennis (DrD to most of us) believes strongly that his job is not only to make good music with kids but to make good kids with music. The impact on my boy has been and continues to be profound. MYA is located in the old stockade at Ft. Sheridan, and the site (near Lake Michigan) only adds to the allure. Dedicating 3-4 hours of every Saturday - on top of rehearsals and performances - seems like a big commitment at first. It quickly seems like not enough. The kids perform at places like Northwestern University, Ravinia and even Symphony Hall. Visiting teachers include the very top in the field; the kids and mentors become friends rapidly. This is altogether one of the most wonderful institutions around and it has been a privilege and an honor to my son and to me to be associated with MYA. I cannot say enough good things about it.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

MYA is simply an incredible place and experience. My kid's school and private instructors recommended it for several years, and we just had a hard time finding the time. I wish now that I had him cancel other activities years ago. It is not a light commitment, the standards and performance are unbelievably high. But it is totally worth it all. Dr. Dennis is one of those teachers who gets kid musicians to perform at levels that they thought were impossible. I recommend MYA to any kids committed to their education and their music.

Board Member

Rating: 5

MYAC provides a unique music education experience that enriches the lives of young people. The students of MYAC have an opportunity to perform in some of the most prestigious performance venues around the world. Distinguished music educators help develop students love of music and leadership skills. My daughter loved her time performing with MYAC vocal groups!

AForeman

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a parent and volunteer of MYAC, I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand the gift of music that is being provided to the children by this fantastic organization. MYAC provides a positive, encouraging, and joyful place for children to come to learn many aspects of music from highly regarded and recognized music faculty.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son performs in MYAC Jazz Workshop and Jazz Combo and loves it! The program has helped him develop his drumming skills and technique and provides multiple performance opportunities! I highly recommend MYAC for anyone whose kids love music!

kmichaels

Board Member

Rating: 5

My family's relationship with MYAC started about 14 years ago with our daughter participating in one of the early youth orchestras. She grew and developed through the years. I watched carefully how people were treated and how they grew through the programs. Today, I serve on the board of directors because its a program you can support and believe in. Our students may not all become professional musicians, but they grow into responsible, conscientious adults who perform excellently in whatever endeavors they undertake. This is not an accident. It is the product of love, hard work, discipline, some fair competition, and passion.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My daughter is graduating after 10 years in MYA. She and I have grown over this time, and MYA became a material part of our lives. MYA doesn't just teach music. They teach music well. But they also teach our children character, discipline, compassion, cooperation, and a desire to excel without hurting others. Through the years I have heard parents from other music programs, who came to MYA extol its virtues. Their children became part of a team. While competitive, the young musicians are taught the larger lessons on what is takes to be a successful human. MYA's best advertisement of its success is its battalion of alumni who still cherish their time with MYA, still come back to visit and participate, and serve on its young professionals board.

As my daughter goes off to college to study music and business, I will continue to participate in and support MYA's activities because it's that important of an organization for young people.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MYAC provides one of the most comprehensive and fulfilling youth music programs in the nation. Students of MYAC consistently go on to become amazing musicians and engaged and caring citizens. The programs they have built are a prime example of musical excellence powered by diversity, talent, and love for artistic expression.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is our third year with MYA. We now have two children involved in two orchestras and two chamber groups. Each year our experience gets better. This is an amazing place. It is full of competitive, high performing students who excel in a warm and caring environment. From our first moment at MYA we felt like we were at home.

Luisa Pashinian A.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful afternoon of music! We loved every minute of each ensemble’s performance.

Megan Grace B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of studying in MYAC for 3 years, not only did I have the pleasure of playing some of the greatest works, in fantastic halls, and fantastic conductors, with the most talented student musicians around (many who now have prominent music careers), but MYAC became a second family. As an outcast in high school I would count the days until my next rehearsal at MYAC, where people were just like me. A decade after graduating I came back to teach at MYA and even after so many years it felt just like coming home and it is amazing to Play a part for other students in the place that played such a big part of my upbringing

Client Served

Rating: 5

MYA was the most magical orchestra experience for me back in the mid-90s when I auditioned and joined because my high school didn't have an orchestra program. It was so rewarding to have the chance to play with some of the most talented young musicians from the tri-state area, and to be led by Dr. Dennis and his passion for interpreting classical works and nurturing musicians in each section to sound their best and connect to the music emotionally, and to practice diligently. It led me to major in music and to have a life-long love of music. I enjoy being able to play in alumni concerts as an adult as well, which I've been able to do twice and got to experience a little bit more of that magic.

Judy M.5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great family organization. Excellent music for children and youth of all ages.

Tom O.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Midwest Young Artists Conservatory made a real difference in our Son's life. It's like being a part of a family. We only wish we had found MYAC sooner!

Client Served

Rating: 5

A great community for musically-minded kids! From the big ensembles to the smaller chamber groups, the conductors, coaches and teachers are focused on improving the technical and lyrical skills as well as the comfort and coordination of playing in a group. My daughter's knowledge of orchestral pieces, composers and music history has not only grown, but given her the desire to be a better (and life-long) musician.

Donor

Rating: 4

Midwest Young Artists was an amazing orchestral music experience for our budding clarinetist, who is now off studying clarinet performance at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music. He enjoyed his participation for two years at MYAC, and only wishes he had started with them earlier in high school. Grew as a clarinetist and composer. Had opportunities to perform and learn that he wouldn't have had anywhere else in the Chicago area. Made friends he'll keep and share music with for life. And we, as his parents, enjoyed every minute of every performance over his two years with MYAC. Truly a surprise to find such a world class experience so close to home for us! Worth every penny and every minute.

Kayla B.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

MYAC has really helped me grow not only as a musician, but as a person. I have been in both the vocal and the Orchestras, and I can say with full certainty that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made to audition. I have met some of my best friends there and Stevie Marks, Gary Fry, and Allan Dennis are all spectacular teachers and mentors. I would highly recommend MYA to anyone who had the dedication to not only learn an instrument, but to be in a truly spectacular ensemble. (Pixtures from Lang Lang 2018)

Client Served

Rating: 5

MYAC was integral in my development as a musician, and I cannot put into words how much I valued my time spent there. The education that MYAC provides is, in my opinion, unparalleled by any other institution in the country. Having graduated from MYAC last year, I find myself missing the community, musical standards, and wonderful teachers and mentors that I feel so lucky to have had. MYAC has opened so many doors for me, and I cannot thank them enough.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My oldest son had the privilege to work with amazing educators and talented young musicians through Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. He participated in both the Jazz and Orchestral programs which helped him take his musicianship to the next level and to secure an amazing scholarship to study jazz performance in college. I couldn’t recommend the program enough and look forward to my youngest child having the same opportunity to participate there as well! Thank you MYAC fircall you do for our young musicians!

Joanne F.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is my daughter’s third year playing with MYA. What a great experience! She has gained so much knowledge and advanced her playing dramatically. This organization has helped her realize she wants to pursue a career in music. She absolutely loves it!!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been involved with MYAC since I was in the 8th grade (I now have two small children) and I have nothing but great things to say about the musical and personal experience I had while studying and working there. As a student, faculty member, and now board member, I have met the most incredible people who have inspired my life in so many wonderful ways. I look forward to having my children partake in the program!

Jay B.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

My son is in his third year with MYAC. Although he attends a high school with an extraordinary music program, the quality of the instruction, musicianship, and community at MYAC is even better.

I am so "sold" on MYAC that I agreed to join their board this year. A world class organization from top to bottom.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We belong to the family of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Berg, authors , and developers and pioneers of solution focused brief therapy and our daughter Amelie enjoys rehearsing and practicing her instrument, Clarinet at MYAC. she can nurture her passion for music and learns how to work in team. It is a musical high quality experience in a fun and supportive environment.

tsharp

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with MYAC in one capacity or another for 15 years, from volunteer to ad-hoc committee member to board member to president, and now treasurer. MYAC has been so impactful in the lives of our children, with 2 of three becoming professional musicians. The musical education was important, but of equal or greater importance was the social growth of our children and others. The dedication of the founders, Allan and Karen Dennis, continues to be a driving force at MYAC. Their love of education, music and nurturing growth sets MYAC apart from the rest.

Previous Stories
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Board Member

Rating: 5

MYA has a 20 year history of helping young musicians mature as musicians, and importantly, as children moving into young adulthood. We have a very nurturing environment which allows our students to flourish. Strong friendships and a true sense of accomplishment are recurring comments which come back to us. I happily serve as MYA's president.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

MYA is the most beautiful environment for our young people. What they are doing is quite an accomplishment. Bringing children together making music. Every Saturday, I watch them rehearsing, practicing, all ages, just bring tears! I’m so very proud to be part of this community. Alan and Karen are very inspiring. And we can’t be thankful enough for them that they provide this such an important and beautiful environment for our young generation. My son and I are always looking forward to it. MYA is a Wonderful place to be: dedicated faculty and staff, talented, happy students!

Adam S.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Very good with communication and helping young artists grow.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There is no better place for young musicians than MYAC. Dr. Alan Dennis and his wife are the most dedicated and caring people you will ever meet and have created this amazing educational program. Their professionalism and musical knowledge are priceless, and I am forever grateful for everything they have done at MYAC for my kids, and I know every other parent here can say the same. I encourage all to experience the joy of being part of this amazing organization!

-Marta Dudek, MYAC Parent

Client Served

Rating: 5

MYAC changed my life forever. It's not only the most welcoming community, but also most inspiring. The music standards are extraordinarily high because of the professionalism, encouragement, and dedication from the faculty, coaches, directors, and students. In all honesty there are no words to describe how special MYAC really is. You just HAVE to take the opportunity to experience it! My only regret is not joining MYAC sooner!

-Peter Dudek, MYAC Student