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The Santa Monica Youth Orchestra (SMYO) is a non-profit organization that strives to promote socioeconomic and cultural diversity through music programming. SMYO rethinks community in three central ways:

  1. By doing away with tuition and auditions, the orchestra facilitates participation among individuals from underrepresented groups.
  2. By supplementing hierarchal and authoritarian teaching practices with peer mentoring, it models an egalitarian approach to social life in which young people practice “listening” to one another, working together in “harmony.”
  3. By programming Jazz, Latin American, Near Eastern and West African repertoire alongside European orchestral classics, it “opens the ears” of its participants and audiences to the rich heterogeneity of world cultures.