Empowering Youth, Building Community

YOLA National programs bring together those who believe that music education has a powerful role to play in youth and community development. Designed to respond to the changing needs of the field, YOLA National offers an ever-growing number of opportunities for young musicians, teaching artists, program administrators, and other stakeholders to learn from and create community with one another.

Through this work, the LA Phil aims to empower young people from populations that have been historically excluded from intensive music training and foster a dialogue among practitioners that will help shape the future of the field.

What is the history of YOLA National?   

YOLA National Symposium

2019 Symposium Theme: Empowering Youth, Building Community

July 24-27, 2019

The YOLA National Symposium brings together educators, administrators, advocates, and other key stakeholders in both Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development through music education.

Over the course of the symposium, participants from around the world share best practices, network with their peers, and explore the challenges and opportunities of empowering young people and communities through music.

The symposium will culminate in a performance of the YOLA National Symphony Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Registration, schedule, lodging, and locations to be announced!


Important Dates

Call for proposals:

February 15, 2019 

Deadline for proposals:

April 1, 2019

Pre-Symposium Session:

July 24, 2019

YOLA National Symposium:

July 25-27, 2019 

YOLA National Symposium – 2019 • Empowering Youth, Building Community

Requests for Proposals 

The YOLA National Symposium seeks to foster a meaningful conversation between educators, administrators, advocates, and other key stakeholders who believe that music education has a powerful role to play in youth empowerment and community development. Proposed sessions should engage all participants in active collaboration and communication in expanding best practices and better understanding challenges in our own programs and across the greater global community of arts education and creative youth development practitioners.

Over the course of the symposium, participants from around the world will share best practices and collaboratively explore the challenges and opportunities of working through music to help young people fulfill their innate potential. Do you have a meaningful contribution to this conversation that you would like to share?  The LA Phil invites you to submit a proposal!

Questions? Email YOLA@laphil.org

Proposal Submission Timeline


February 15, 2019 


April 1, 2019


April 26, 2019


July 24-27, 2010

Learn more about proposal guidelines below!



Focal Areas

With a focus on Empowering Youth, Building Community, presenters are encouraged to consider the following:  

  • Youth and Community Voice: How can we bring the voice of those we serve to the center of our practice, from program design?

  • Creativity:  How can we incorporate creativity, improvisation and composition authentically into the orchestral context, from the beginning level through our highest performing ensembles?

  • Artistry and Challenge: How can we continue to improve our ability to use the unique benefits and opportunities of intensive music instruction to drive increased socio-emotional growth in the young people we serve?

  • Race and Power: How can we actively engage our young people in conversations about race, power, identity, and intersectionality, with a goal of developing practical tools for combatting the socio-economic forces that challenge many of the young people and families we serve?

  • Program Design: How do we create programs that model equity, inclusion, and a true sense of belonging in all aspects of their design and implementation?

  • Professional Development: How can we provide our teaching artists and staff with the best possible training, both as teachers and as artists, as a means of improving program impact?

  • Partnerships: How can we increase collaboration nationally and in our own communities to better leverage the unique strengths and interests of the vast network of organizations and individuals seeking positive social change through arts education?

Please submit a proposal related to one or more of the above areas of focus.
Have a related area not mentioned here that you think will be meaningful for the conversation?  Please share!




Session Guidelines

  • Sessions should be hands-on, interactive, and engaging for all attendees.

  • Proposals are welcome in all existing and expanding pathways of Pre-K through pre-professional music education, including best practices in professional development for teaching artists.

  • We encourage you to consider one of the formats below!



  • Workshops are engaging and collaborative learning sessions that emphasize learning-by-doing. Attendees can expect to leave with tools, plans, activities, or work-product they can immediately use back home. Workshops may have up to a maximum of 4 facilitators.

  • Fishbowl Demos are interactive sessions involving 1-2 facilitators demonstrating a particular teaching practice with a live ensemble.

  • Lightning Presentations are quick, dynamic, 6-minute presentations that are gathered into themed clusters of 4 Minis in a single session. This is a useful format to showcase best practices or innovative projects from your home programs. Your individual Lightning presentation will be grouped together with 3 other presentations that are loosely related to a similar theme or topic. Sessions should follow the Ignite style in which you have a maximum of 15 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds. Each of the 4 Minis in the breakout are presented in rapid succession; next, presenters hold a 20-minute all-group Q&A or facilitated group discussion. Each Lighting presentation should have no more than 2 presenters each.

  • Panel sessions have a familiar structure, but we ask that proposals take a more engaged approach to preparation and practice. Panel proposals should include up to 4 panelists, and 1 moderator. We ask that panelists coordinate to present different perspectives on the specified topic and, together with a skillful moderator, facilitate and synthesize discussion. This is not for serial presentations showcasing your work, but for sharing, comparing, and synthesizing experiences and insights between panelists. Panels may have up to 4 panelists plus 1 moderator (a maximum of 5 in total).

  • Roundtables are facilitated conversations among all attendees centered on a particular theme or purpose. This is a useful format if you want to lead a discussion around innovative ideas, unique approaches, or challenges faced. These sessions will hopefully provide groundwork for ongoing collaborations or build relationships for continued shared learning around specific challenges. Roundtables should have 1-2 facilitators and should be designed to actively engage all participants present.

*While we do not require that proposals are in the format above, we encourage formats that foster engaging and meaningful conversation for attendees.


Submit Your Proposal

This application will require: 

  • Basic Information about the presenter(s), including bio(s) and headshot(s)

  • Session Title

  • Session Format (See above for format options)

  • Focus Area (selected from the list above)

  • A brief description of your session

  • A brief description of the proposed activities, visual aids, or handouts involved in your session

  • Any relevant documents (as applicable)

  • Any materials required for the session


Download the Request for Proposals PDF