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YMMC Receives Award for Supporting Youth Mental Health

by Jeanne Gavrin

Youth Music Monterey County proudly accepted the Arts for Youth Award of Monterey County Gives! 2021. Created to support mental health in youth through the arts. This award comes with a $1000 grant, for which we are grateful, from the Community Foundation for Monterey County. The grant will provide tuition assistance for one child to participate in YMMC for a year.

Why Is Music Important to Mental Health?

According to Erin Bailey, music educators are in a prime position to positively affect youth mental and emotional health ( In Bailey’s study, teens stated that music participation helps them release or control feelings and cope with pressure, loss, or abuse.

Karen, an appreciative parent of an Honors Orchestra musician, provides an example:

“My son came home from school on a YMMC afternoon extremely upset because he had failed terribly at sports that day. He was so distraught that both his dad and I drove him to rehearsal. However, we picked up an elated teen. He told us how the music raised his spirits and beyond that, to think through ways he could improve his sports. Thank you YMMC!”

Despite the obvious challenges, YMMC provided virtual orchestral instruction during the pandemic. The “Fresh Perspectives” series added more Zoomable opportunities. Creative minds around the world provided events such as inspirational master classes and engaging career oriented interviews.

Tricia, a grateful mom wrote:

“YMM has had a lot to do with him [my son] staying motivated [during Covid]. While his other music groups have come to a complete halt, YMM has encouraged and given him a reason to keep the music going! We are incredibly grateful. You all, and this organization, have helped my kid and so many others in ways you don’t even realize. Thank you for supporting their mental health by giving them purpose, goals, and reasons to continue on with their music!!”

Music Making Connects Us

In this critical time, as we move out of the pandemic and students come together in person, YMMC continues to rise to the occasion of supporting mental health. Experiences like South County Strings students excitement at engaging in the Orchestras’ Spring Retreat Weekend, the camaraderie displayed at the Catalyst Quartet Master class, and the fabulous energy of the season’s final concert, “Magic By the Bay”, where over 100 students took the stage at once, exemplify what making music together can do.

Kelly, an alumna, expressed what we hope each musician can take away:

“When I joined YMMC, I never expected to also be joining a tightly-knit family of musicians from all walks of life. From trading laughs with the brass section, to sprinting home last-minute for black concert socks with some violinists, to letting dinner go cold and sharing stories till dawn with people I now consider my best friends, I cherish every relationship I’ve forged in these orchestras.”


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