chime logo with tm from rb (2)

Creating Harmony, Invigorating Music Education

Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) believes in the power of music to transform young lives.  Since 1996, it has provided free, private2 music lessons during the school-day to talented middle-school students in inner city communities.  In 2015, recognizing the importance of music training for even younger students, ESYO expanded its program to include an after-school, intensive, ensemble-based program for elementary school children.

ESYO’S Sistema CHIME™ is inspired by El Sistema, a “social justice first” program from Venezuela that uses the model of an orchestra to teach kids about community, ESYO’s CHIME™ seeks to promote positive social change through music. The remarkable success of El Sistema in Venezuela has sparked a global movement with well over 65 El Sistema-inspired programs currently operating in the US as well as dozens more throughout Europe, Canada, and Asia.

ESYO’S CHIME provides free, daily ensemble-based music instruction to children residing in underserved communities in New York’s Capital Region. We present opportunities to excel in the field of music and make available clear progression routes to ensure every stage of the individual child is looked after. The program starts with intensive music training at the elementary level and feeds into continued support at the middle school and leads onto one of ESYO’s outstanding, pre-existing ensembles. Engaging students in intense, focus-based music training that requires constant participation and self-evaluation helps develop executive function skills. Evidence links increased executive functioning skills with a reduction in violence, and increased inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and working memory. As the students begin to realize their talent for music we believe that confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, concentration and renewed sense of pride for their community will be fostered and with that the expected outcomes for pro-social and academic achievement will be met.

To follow on from CHIME™ at the elementary level, the program will continue to support children throughout their school lives. In grades 6-8 they are provided with free, weekly, private lessons during the school day to support their musical development and to enhance their experience in their schools’ performing ensembles. Lessons are provided at Hackett Middle School, Albany (strings and brass), and in Schenectady (strings only) at Central Park and Mont Pleasant middle schools. To cultivate and retain more brass students, lessons are now also given to elementary students at Albany’s Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST).

Through the combination of ensemble based instruction in the elementary grades and private instruction during the school day for middle school students, ESYO offers a cohesive and comprehensive needs-based program for children in challenged communities in the Capital District. 

“The most proficient way to teach the values of collaboration, flexibility, imagination and innovation — all skill sets needed in today’s world — is through the performing arts. If you have these tools, you can do well in any field from software engineering to the biosciences.” (Yo Yo Ma)


ESYO IS SEEKING TEACHING ARTISTS!  Click here for more info


John Connolly, CHIME Program Director


Before arriving in the United States, John Connolly was an active performer. In 2011, he successfully auditioned for the position of second trombone with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBCSSO) and appeared on numerous occasions across their season including serving as principle trombone in January 2012. He also frequently worked with the Royal Northern Sinfonia playing second trombone to some of the United Kingdom’s best trombone players including Helen Vollam, principle trombone of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (London) and Simon Cowen, principle trombone of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

As an orchestra trombonist, John has worked with world-class conductors including Donald Runnicles (BBCSSO, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), Andrew Manze (NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, BBCSSO), Paul Watkins (Emerson String Quartet) and Mario Venzago (Bern Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta).

John Studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) under Simon Johnson, principle trombone of the BBCSSO. During his time at the RSAMD, John studied with some of the world’s leading brass performers and technicians including Kristian Steenstrup, Alison Balsom, Chris Holding, Ian Bousfield, Mark Nightingale, Hakan Björkman and Jonas Bylund.

As a music educator, John is a passionate advocate of the Sistema movement, he served for three years as lead teacher for England’s Sistema-inspired In Harmony program. During that time, he was selected to tour Venezuela with the directors of the six English-based Sistema programs, and in 2014, was chosen as the lower brass teacher for Sistema Europe at its annual summer music camp in Istanbul. In addition to his work with the Sistema movement he has also served as music director for Music Partnership North and as low brass tutor for the Centre for Advanced Training at Sage Gateshead.

John is thrilled to start a new chapter of his life in the US taking on the challenge of launching the CHIME program, and he is excited to bring his experiences of Sistema and music education to the underserved youth of the Capitol Region.



Monica Wilson-Roach
CHIME Strings Teaching Artist

Monica has taught in the Music Advancement Program at the Juilliard School, an outreach division of the Pre-College Program. She was member of the ESYO cello section when in high school, serves as one of our cello coaches, and has a private cello studio.

A member of the jazz trio Ten27, she is active as a performer and recording artist of contemporary music and jazz. Monica founded the summer cello choir, Tutti Celli.

Keith Reynolds
CHIME Brass Teaching Artist

Until his retirement in June 2011, Keith was Director of Bands at Albany High School where he created the Wind Ensemble program. During his 38 years in the Albany School District Keith taught all grade levels of instrumental music.

He was the Music Department Chairperson for four years and conducted many All City Programs with both Band and Choral groups. Keith can be heard as a trumpet soloist at area concerts and weddings and plays at St. Vincent de Paul Church most Sundays. He has written many compositions and arrangements for band and also has a private trumpet studio. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from The College of Saint Rose.

Richard Brodwin
CHIME Teaching Artist

Richard holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Julliard School of Music in New York. He has held positions with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia (Spain), Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra. An ESYO alumnus, Richard has served as violin adjudicator for ESYO auditions. He will be based at ESYO’s CHIME program at Yates Magnet Elementary School in Schenectady

Matthew Johnson
CHIME Teaching Artist

Matt is an active performer and teacher within the Capitol Region. He holds an master’s degree in music from Boston University and is currently a faculty member of the College of Saint Rose. As a performer, he has performed across the United States in many different ensembles from opera and symphony orchestras to quartets and chamber ensembles. Matt has served as viola coach and adjudicator for ESYO for many years. Matt will be based at ESYO’s CHIME program at Yates Magnet Elementary School in Schenectady.

Cheryl Kinkelaer
CHIME Assistant Director

Cheryl has been a teacher at the Montessori school in Florida for a number of years. She brings a wealth of experience to the program and will be serving as the program assistant at ESYO’s CHIME program at Yates Elementary School in Schenectady.

Mike Lawrence
CHIME Teaching Artist

Mike is a Capital Region-based bassist and educator. He’s recorded with jazz greats Joe Locke (vibes), Bruce Barth (piano) and Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone) alongside his friend and drummer Michael Benedict with the Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble, and has performed live in concert with Bopitude featuring Gary Smulyan, Chris Pasin, and Brian Patneaude. Mike teaches upright bass, electric bass and other stringed instruments and has been involved with numerous jazz festivals, clinics and workshops around the region. Mike will be a visiting teaching artist at ESYO’s CHIME program at Yates Magnet Elementary School in Schenectady.

Lillierose Ruby-Eck
CHIME Teaching Artist

Lillierose is a recent graduate of the College of Saint Rose, achieving her bachelor’s degree in music education. She frequently performs around the Capitol Region with various ensembles playing violin, viola and double bass! She is an accomplished artist and her artwork has featured in many published string tutor books. Lillierose will be based at ESYO’s CHIME program at Yates Magnet Elementary School in Schenectady.

Bridie Schnore
CHIME Teaching Artist

Bridie is currently studying at SUNY Fredonia working towards her degree in music education. She has taught in a variety of settings ranging from pre K to working with students with disabilities. She also works with John Keal Music as a string technician. Bridie is an alumnus of ESYO and will be the general music teacher and violin teaching artist at ESYO’s Sistema CHIME program at Yates Elementary School in Schenectady.



Instruments for CHIME™ are provided through the generous support of John Keal Music Ad