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CHIME Expands Access

with help from Schenectady City School District
This past fall, elementary students from across the Schenectady City School District (SCSD) signed up to join CHIME through a lottery system, doubling the program’s membership nearly overnight.  With additional support and bussing from SCSD, and generous contributions from local foundations and individuals, ESYO has been able to dramatically increase the number of students served from 80 to more than 140.  “CHIME is thriving today in large part because of our close partnership with SCSD,” says Executive Director, Becky Calos. “The school district’s advocacy for the arts and their unwavering commitment to equity and access is truly remarkable.” 
The SCSD/ESYO partnership allows CHIME to offer programming to enrolled SCSD students entirely tuition-free. The expanded program also includes transportation to and from CHIME sites, located at Yates Elementary School and Proctors Theatre. The entry to CHIME for the youngest students focuses on stringed instrument instruction, four days per week. As students advance in age and skill, they move to the Proctors site, where programming is offered for strings, wind and percussion players all the way through high school. On Mondays, the full orchestra has an extended rehearsal until 6:45 pm, with dinner provided. “It’s thrilling to see the increased amount of creativity and connection happening on our Mondays at CHIME. Sharing a meal together really deepens our sense of community and the extended time allows the students to explore new ways of expression through movement and spontaneous composition in addition to our full orchestra, chamber music and sectionals. We are already seeing really amazing results in just the past few months!” says Dr. David Bebe, ESYO’s Associate Music Director for CHIME and Chamber Music.

CHIME is a supplement to the District’s already robust music program; it is a unique opportunity for artistic young people to pursue their musical interests more intensively than they can during the school day. The technique and skills gained in the afterschool setting allow CHIME students to enhance and serve as leaders in SCSD’s school day music classes and ensembles. "We are extremely grateful to ESYO for the continued partnership with Schenectady schools to offer our students this incredible opportunity, said Anibal Soler, Jr., SCSD Superintendent of Schools.  "The arts are important for the development of our young people. The CHIME program promotes equity and access giving many students an incredible opportunity they might not otherwise have.  The steady growth of CHIME is an indication of what this program means to our school community,” 

Many CHIME musicians participate in ESYO’s other performing groups and its leadership training program, Young Leaders. “We created CHIME to offer a pathway to musical exploration,” says Calos, “and we have built as much support as possible to allow youth to pursue their passions by removing as many barriers as possible.” For the youngest students this means providing dedicated teachers, quality instruments and daily practice. For the older students this means private lessons, college guidance and preparation, performance opportunities locally and across the US, and opportunities for leadership/mentorship experiences and training. “At CHIME, we believe that immersive musical study centers the whole student,” says Zoë Auerbach, CHIME & Young Leaders Director “together with our students, we strive to build an environment that nurtures musician-learners who are curious explorers and citizens, actively involved in their learning process, music-making and community. Our approach aims at far-reaching impacts both within and beyond the scope of music. The importance of breaking down barriers to this type of instructional space and experience -- where students can explore how they learn, contribute and evolve as individuals and members of a community over time -- cannot be overstated. Continuing to expand access to our programming is of critical and central importance to our program mission, and we’re incredibly fortunate to partner so closely with SCSD in our shared commitment to these goals.” 

With CHIME’s expansion this year, dozens more young people  will have access to music enrichment and perspective-shifting opportunities. This past summer, for example, CHIME cellist and Young Leader, Jazlyn Bronson, traveled to Chicago with three of her CHIME peers to participate in the National Seminario Ravina, playing side-by-side with Chicago Philharmonic  musicians under the baton of famed conductors, Marin Alsop and Jonathan Rush.This year, CHIME musicians will be working with artist Horacio Fernandez to create a series of collective compositions that will premier in May, 2024. This project  is part of CHIME’s annual Amplify Our Voice initiative, designed to offer youth a powerful vehicle to process deep emotion, explore shared life experiences and “amplify” their voices through music.


In addition to the partnership with Schenectady City School District, CHIME relies on the generous support of the community. Donations can be made at

Acknowledgments: In addition to the Schenectady City School District, CHIME is made possible with the generous support of the Rea Charitable Trust, the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, Van Norton Family Foundation, Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Schenectady County Initiative Program, D'Addario Music Foundation, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region Patton Fund and Barry Alan Gold Memorial Fund, and Review Foundation. Individual support is provided by Robert and Mary Chase, Jean and Walter Hayes, David and Heather Manthey, and many others.