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Full Orchestras
















Progressions is an intensive string training program, providing private instruction and orchestral training in violin, viola, cello and bass to third and fourth grade City of Milwaukee students with little or no experience playing a string instrument.



Led by Director Tim Rush, Calypso and Soca, MYSO’s two levels of steel band performance ensembles, are comprised of students from various Milwaukee schools. It was created in 2007 with an MPS Partnership for the Arts grant; our sincere thanks to MPS for the continued support of the program.




Founded by Cliff Gribble in 2004, the Jazz Studies program offers top quality instrumental and jazz training to young musicians in grades 6-12 from the Greater Milwaukee area, with a focus on urban students whose culture and heritage are deeply rooted in the origins of jazz and Latin jazz music.




MYSO is committed to making quality musical experiences available to as many qualified students as possible. Which is why we offer a number of merit based scholarships. Learn more about them and how to apply by following the link below.



  • Music Theory Classes

    For more than 50 years, MYSO has offered exceptional music theory training, optional for MYSO members. In general, theory classes are recommended for musicians in grade 7 and higher and offer a terrific opportunity for the serious musician to expand his/her musical knowledge base.

    Theory I – Introductory/Intermediate

    4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, weekly on Mondays, September 18, 2017, through April 30, 2018 (classes will not be held during scheduled MYSO winter and spring breaks), at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Scales, intervals, chords, harmonic and choral analysis, sight singing, ear training, harmony and keyboard harmony will be the topics of these classes.

    Theory II – Advanced

    5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, weekly on Mondays, September 18, 2017, through April 30, 2018 (classes will not be held during scheduled MYSO winter and spring breaks), at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Topics include sight singing, ear training, harmony, keyboard improvisation, analysis and composition.

    James Burmeister, Director of Theory Instruction

    James Burmeister teaches in the Music Department at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts. In addition to teaching in the Music Theory area, Jim teaches organ and graduate score reading (playing choral and orchestral scores at the piano). He serves as coordinator of the UWM Music Department Tutoring Center Theory providing peer tutoring in all of the required freshman and sophomore music theory and piano courses. As advisor for the UWM Delta Eta Chapter of the Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity, Jim is instrumental in the chapter’s numerous awards for excellence and scholarship.

    In May 2010, he was one of five recipients of the UWM-SAC Award for “excellence in teaching students with special needs while maintaining high academic standards.”

    Jim’s undergraduate and graduate degrees are from the University of Michigan School of Music.

  • Reading Workshop

    Since 1995, MYSO and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) have sponsored a wonderfully exciting sightreading session, open to members of MYSO’s Senior Symphony. Students read a few very challenging works, under the leadership of MSO conductors and MYSO Artistic Director Carter Simmons, from the great orchestral repertoire, with MSO members playing side-by-side with Senior Symphony players. This is made possible through a generous endowment bequest from the late Erika Richman.

    Workshop mission and goals

    • To expose students to music which will make a lasting impression about contrasting styles and periods in Western literature.

    • To work with professional symphony musicians who are role models for our students.

    • To investigate music which MYSO will most likely not program due to instrumentation, length, difficulty etc..

    • Ideally, the ensemble would rehearse the piece with coaching from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra musicians and the conductors and then play the full selection again.

    We always look forward to what is truly a unique effort to expose bright young students to some of the most challenging and intriguing music ever written.

  • Master Classes

    MYSO is pleased to offer periodic master classes led by Milwaukee area and visiting professional musicians.

    A master class is a learning opportunity for students who play a particular instrument,taught by an expert on that instrument. The clinician will give hints, pointers, and practice suggestions to students to improve rehearsal, practice and performance on the instrument. This clinician’s advice will be helpful to everyone who attends, not just those students who are invited to play for the clinician.

    At a master class you will learn more about your instrument, learn more about musicianship, sharpen your skills for upcoming auditions, and have the opportunity to ask many questions about all sorts of musical issues. A masterclass is class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline.

  • Davidson Chamber Ensembles Program

    Each season MYSO invites select MYSO members to apply to participate in the Davidson Chamber Ensemble Program, which provides professional coaching and performance opportunities in a small ensemble setting. This is an exceptional opportunity to explore the richness of the chamber repertoire.

    Working with a smaller ensemble (generally 4 to 5 people) is quite different from playing with an orchestra or band. When performing chamber literature one learns how to make the musical decisions that conductors normally make in larger ensembles. With this new responsibility, musicianship will improve as new musical challenges are faced. It is a unique and important part of a complete musical education, and MYSO is proud to offer this excellent opportunity to learn about chamber music and, ultimately, how to think about making music.

    Those chosen to participate in the Davidson Chamber Ensemble Program must have a very high level of commitment to the project and a flexible, cooperative mind-set, especially with regard to scheduling and rehearsal locations. It is a significant commitment, but the rewards are many!

    MYSO hires professional coaches from the area to work with each ensemble; these may be musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra or other professional groups.

    MYSO staff will place students in groups based on instrumentation needs, age, musical expertise, experience, etc.

    The Chamber Ensemble Program culminates in the spring, with the Davidson Chamber Ensemble Recitals, a series of four recitals held in Youth Arts Hall at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

    This wonderful program is supported through the generosity of the late Arthur and Francesca “Peter” Davidson.