Youth Music Illinois mentors area youth to develop skills for both music and life, through the power of live performance.
Youth Music Illinois enriches and unites our community by fostering a lifelong appreciation of the arts.
Since 1965, Youth Music Illinois has provided an extracurricular orchestra experience for students in central Illinois. In 55 years, YMI has grown from a single orchestra for high school students to six ensembles and a Suzuki School of Music, serving students of all ages.
Studying and performing music at a high level increases critical thinking, builds confidence and leadership abilities, and teaches conflict management techniques. Our curriculum is guided by Music Director David Commanday, who strives for excellence and challenges students to be their very best in every aspect. Conductor Commanday’s career has brought him renown on three continents, spanning the fields of concert hall, stage, university and youth orchestra. His leadership is praised for engaging and inspiring musicians, with depth in the classics and sparkle in pops; he is known for connecting with both musicians and audiences.
In the last 55 years, YMI has grown to include the Youth Symphony led by David Commanday, the Jazz Orchestra and Jr. Jazz ensembles led by Jeff Arbisi, Concert Orchestra led by David Getz, Preparatory Orchestra led by Angela Englishharden, and Percussion Ensemble led by Peggy Bonner.
Just last year, under the direction of Laura Otto, YMI opened a Suzuki School of Music, which offers lessons in the Suzuki Method for students of all ages. Our Suzuki teachers (Molly Wilson-Nogaj, Kayla Schoeny and Courtney Silver) are kind, caring and talented instructors whose students receive weekly private and group lessons. Through these programs, young people become stronger, better musicians. More importantly, our student musicians develop skills to master any professional field they choose.
Youth Symphony Alumni
Youth Symphony alumni have succeeded in careers including music performance, education, engineering and business, amongst others—with many commenting on the inspirational foundation provided by the organization. It is our hope these students will make central Illinois their home, becoming highly-qualified prospective employees to benefit our business environment.
Our programming is an integral component for music education, performance experience and the future of young people. We are committed to engaging students from all socio-economic backgrounds in our current and future opportunities to ensure central Illinois is a great place to live.
How to Help
Our donation button is located on the homepage of our website. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a part of Youth Music Illinois, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to set up an audition.
Lidia Riley, Executive Director
David Commanday, Music Director
Laura Otto, Suzuki School Director