2013 PYO Gala at The Kimmel Center

This gallery contains 14 photos.


Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I’m a senior at Friends Select School. At my school, internships are a graduation requirement. I chose to do my internship at Tune Up Philly because music education is very important to me. I started playing violin at age 4 and have played in my school’s music program since 5th grade. I just completed my 3rd year with the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra, which is part of the same organization that Tune Up Philly is. I have really enjoyed my experience with PYAO because it has given me the chance to play challenging classical music with other talented musicians, which is something that my school’s instrumental ensemble has not always been able to give me.


Though I have not yet personally met the kids who are enrolled in Tune Up Philly, I attended their May 18 concert at the Philadelphia Free Library. It became apparent to me that each of the students put in a tremendous amount of work and time to prepare for the concert. I was impressed by the musicianship the students displayed, even the youngest students who had just begun playing. When I heard the schools each of the graduating 8th grade students had been accepted to, I was very impressed. These students had been accepted to schools that their non-musician peers had not been. Clearly, participating in the Tune Up Philly music program has given them something that other kids their age do not have. Music education has provided them with the work ethic and self-discipline that comes from practicing an instrument. It has also provided them with the ability to take critique and grow from it. Studies have shown that studying an instrument helps children succeed in school, especially in the math and science areas. It helps them to focus, work toward goals, and think critically. As someone who has experienced music education throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I fully believe that music has given me extra qualities as a student as well as the drive to succeed. The importance of music in a child’s life cannot be stressed enough; it is a force that brings people together, nurtures them to become better individuals, and provides them with a special gift that cannot be taken away.


I would describe music as an integral part of my life, and I believe that music education has given me incredible opportunities to grow as a student as well as a person in general. Although I have often encountered challenges when balancing music with other aspects of my life, such as academics and sports, I will continue to pursue music in the future when I am at college. I am planning to major in neuroscience or international relations, but I am also considering studying music; in addition, I am looking forward to playing music in both organized and less formal groups. I hope that music will continue to be a significant part of my life after college as well.


Hi, I’m Adina and I’m a senior at JR Masterman High School. Before they graduate every year, seniors are required to leave the very familiar surroundings of the school and of teachers they know, and venture out into the “real” world to learn something that they couldn’t learn within a school setting. For two weeks, seniors shadow a mentor – who is an expert in whatever field the student chooses to explore- and learn from them.

 Last summer, I interned with Tune Up Philly. I spent the summer helping to teach violin to a group of insanely fun, hilarious, and talented girls and we really hit it off.  I was sure that I would want to return to TUP to do my senior project. Now, I’m learning a lot more about why Tune Up Philly is what it is. Instead of being the teacher this time, I’m learning all about the substantiation behind the program. So far we’ve spent the week cataloging the results of a series of surveys and questionnaires that the students, the students’ teachers, and the students’ parents completed at the very beginning of the year, before complete exposure to Tune Up Philly. Next, we plan to go conduct the surveys again and observe the change and the effect a musical presence has had on the students.

Music has been a huge part of my life since before I can remember. It has not only had a huge presence in my outside of school life, but it has completely characterized my educational experience over the past 13 years. I believe that music has teaches commitment, focus, and patience. Music has taught me how to pick a goal and stick with it until I get there. I’ve learned that it’s possible to practice a piece for months and months and months before any difference is evident. Sticking with something for that long isn’t always easy, but having done that since age 4 (when I started playing violin) has taught me a lot about consistency, patience, and reliability. However, I think that music is much further reaching than just learning to play a few scales. That is why fighting for the existence of music education is also something that has largely characterized my time in high school. Music has the power to teach all-encompassing life lessons, as well as bring people together. Almost all of the friends I’ve made, I’ve made because of being in a musical ensemble together. Playing in orchestras and singing in choirs has helped me make friends from all over the area that represent all different kinds of people – all of them amazing and talented. Having the opportunity to work with an organization like Tune Up Philly, and people like Delia, who really care about music and music education is basically as good as it could possibly get for me. This is exactly how I want the “real world” to be for me when I graduate next month.  In the fall, I plan to study political science at the University of Pennsylvania.  I hope to someday become a government advocate (really, a lobbyist) for music education.

Meet the Interns!

We are so lucky to be joined by three fantastic interns from Mastery Charter School’s Lenfest and Thomas Campus. Here are some guest blogs, check out what they have to say about their experience.


YO, YO, YO!! Its yah boy Daniel Covington and I’ve been interning at Tune up Philly and it’s been a very enjoyable experience working with the kids and seeing how talented they are. They remind me of myself when I was there age minus the reading music and playing the classical music LOL. When I was interning there I became a mentor to this kid named Hassan he was a trombone player but I’m a drummer but being a mentor to this kid was like my uncle being a mentor to me there wasn’t much advice couldn’t give to him like telling the right notes an all but I told him that the only way you can give up is if you don’t try as hard as you can when playing your instrument and from that point on he’s been practicing nonstop playing well in class and catching notes like never before. For my next line of work I hope I get to work at Tune UP Philly. THIS IS YA BOY Daniel Hit ME Back if you want to know more about me as a musician LATER.



Hi I’m Juwan I am 16 and I’m enrolled in an internship program with Tune up Philly. I chose this internship program because I compose my own music and I would like to teach youth the importance of music. I’ve done many things to help with the program and have done many things to help with the program and have had many good experiences. Like playing the piano for the children, listening to the children play their instruments almost expertly. I am ready to see what this internship has in store for me.


My name is Jasmine Langley and being an intern at Tune Up Philly Orchestra is a great experience for me because I learn a lot from my mentor and the program. Mostly I with the kids who are a pleasure to be around with, they are always hyperactive. However when it’s time for them to play they go into serious mode and I love it when they all come together to play because the music sounds beautiful and they always work real hard. I’ve been to one of their concerts and they were dressed up and played really well witch shows that there hard work had paid off. There is one student who I adore and her name is Taniya she plays the violin and I feel like she looks up to me and she is such a joy to be around with. Overall, I am really glad that I chose this internship considering I am also a musician, I play the clarinet and I am really looking forward to seeing the rest of the experience of my internship.

A visit from Venezuela!

Maestro Sarpe works with the cello class

Maestro Sarpe works with the cello class

This past Friday, the Tune Up Philly Cello class was excited to host a special guest, Maestro Nicholae Sarpe visiting from Venezuela!

Maestro Nicholae Sarpe is a very active teacher and performer. He has enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a soloist, orchestra player and teacher. He was principal cellist in Cape Town Symphony, Sinfonia de Venezuela in Caracas and of the famous Orchestra del Academia Santa Cecilia di Roma He performed under the baton of the greatest 20th Century conductors and composers:Stravinsky, Bernstein, Karajan, Sawallish, Ormandy, Solti and Muti to name a few. Maestro Sarpe has taught cello, string instruction pedagogy and string ensemble in conservatories in the United States, South America and Europe.

This was the first master class experience for these students and we thank Maestro Sarpe for his fantastic class!

Spotlight on Clarinet Class

We asked three members of our clarinet class to let you know a little bit about their class and their experience at Tune Up Philly. These are written by a 3rd, 4th and 5th grader. Let me introduce you to our guest bloggers: Marneisha, Marcus, and Ta’Asia.

This week's bloggers: Marcus, Ta'Asia and  Marneisha.

This week’s bloggers: Marcus, Ta’Asia and Marneisha.

Ta’Asia – 9 years old, 3rd Grade, North Philly

My name is Ta’Asia and I play clarinet. I really enjoy my instrument because its a real joy. I really really respect Ms. Agnes because she is my teacher. Ms. Delia and Mr.Paul are really good musicians and role models. Tune Up Philly is a really good program and to me is an honor to be in it. My fellow classmates are Marneisha, Marcus, Turae and Emmanuel and they are a real help to me. I really enjoy my instrument, friends, teachers and Tune Up Philly. I hope that some people out there reading this will consider coming to visit Tune Up Philly.

Marneisha -10 years old, 4th Grade, North Philly

Tune Up Philly is the best. I play the clarinet. It is awesome. My teacher is Ms. Agnes. She is the best. And some times we have Ms. Delia. Ms. Delia play the clarinet too. All my classmates are pretty cool. And we do lots of trips and concerts too. I can play things like Frosty the Snowman, Mary had a little lamb, twinkle twinkle little star and silent night and I can play more. Tune Up Philly is great and I like it. We go on trips like the library. My mom came to that trip and I think we sounded good. So did she. We also had summer classes. We played Billie Jean. And Mr. Paul helps Miss Delia and makes his own songs for us.

Marcus – 11, 5th Grade, Fairmount

I think Tune Up Philly is a great program because we sometimes play fun songs and the clarinet is the best because it play lower than the flute and it has many scales you can play. My best friend is class is Manny he is kinda like the class clown. The others in my class are Marneisha, Ta’Asia and Turae. Marneisha is a nice girl. Ta’Asia is an awesome friend to have and to tell secrets to. Turae is kinda like Manny but she is a girl so sometimes not as funny. I am kind and nice.

Happy New Year from Tune Up Philly!

Divine and Badirah play at the Tune Up Philly Winter concert

Divine and Badirah play at the Tune Up Philly Winter concert

Tune Up Philly has so many things to celebrate this year! 2012 has been an incredible year for us. Our program “arrived” this year and we were able to see and hear amazing results from our students. Our December concert went off without a hitch, and our students played their hearts out. We want to thank all of our students and their families for making that concert a huge success. We put on over 25 concerts throughout 2012, our students were selected to participate in many partner organizations and festivals, and we have watched as our students have matured over the past year. We can’t wait to see what 2013 brings for our program!

We are also very happy to announce that we have received a grant from the D’Addario Foundation. Not only have we received a monetary grant from them, but also an in kind donation that we can use to purchase all kinds of supplies! Please vist their site:

Want to see the rest of the photos from our concert? Visit our Flickr account:

Tune Up Philly in the News!

Check us out in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer!

It’s Giving Tuesday….

In honor of giving Tuesday, consider making a tax deductible donation to Tune Up Philly! Your donations help us to continue our program of intensive mentoring and music instruction with nearly 100 students in North Philadelphia. With your support our students can continue to provide concerts within their own communities throughout Philadelphia. Music really is a vehicle for social change!

1st graders Keith and Wyneef with our Djembe Collection

Imani Winds Concert!

Yesterday, Tune Up Philly had 20 attendees at the Imani Winds concert at the Philadelphia Art Museum. This was made possible through the generous contribution of tickets by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society!

It was by far the best concert we have attended as a program, and one of the best times I have had at a classical concert (this is Ms. Delia, Tune Up Philly Director) in years. I sat with several of our students and their families throughout the concert. I observed how the quintet quickly broke down the often rigid barriers between audience and performer without compromising the integrity of their performance. They carefully selected a program that was both accessible and challenging to the listener and comfortably addressed the audience from the stage. It was like a breath of fresh air for this classical concert-goer!

At Tune Up Philly, we work so hard with our students on their executive functioning skills. We focus deeply on group dynamics, waiting your turn and self-regulation in so many other forms. It was amazing to sit with our students and watch as they were captivated by this concert. I could see all the hard work of learning self-regulation paying off at this concert. It was a fantastic combination of what our students have learned to do best and the fabulous concert. Not one elementary school student made a peep during the concert, they were so focused.

All of our students and their families sprang to their feet with resounding applause and one young French horn student commented “Thank you so much for bringing me. This is the best thing I’ve ever been to.” His mom chimed in “It was like they were having a conversation on stage. It was so fantastic!”