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  • WDCH
  • Oct. 6, 2015
  • Los Angeles - (October 6, 2015) – The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced today a research collaboration with Stanford SPARQ: Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions to measure the effects of YOLA’s rigorous, group classical music education on student and community development. This announcement was made during the 2015 Take A Stand symposium, an annual convening in Los Angeles of El Sistema practitioners from the U.S. and throughout the world.

    Los Angeles Philharmonic Association President and CEO Deborah Borda said, “We are eager to embark upon research that will consider our YOLA students the way we do: as young leaders who are acquiring social and musical skills that will last a lifetime. So much research into arts learning has focused on how the arts can be used to improve in-school performance today. This research is about how the arts prepare young people to be successful adults tomorrow.”

    The study will examine the effects of YOLA’s ensemble-focused music training on students, parents, and instructors. By examining YOLA, researchers will provide new insights and data about the social impact of El Sistema-inspired music education on children, families and community.

    The results of the Stanford SPARQ study will be presented in 2017, coinciding with YOLA’s 10th anniversary, and the culmination of The National Take a Stand Festival, an unprecedented initiative to create a unified national platform for El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the United States. Findings will be distributed widely to provoke field-wide learning. The USC Brain and Creativity Institute will also present results of their five-year longitudinal research project, Effects of Early Childhood Musical Training on Brain and Cognitive Development, a research collaboration launched in 2012 with the LA Phil and YOLA to investigate the cognitive effects of musical training on childhood brain development.

    For more information, please visit

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of music from all genres – orchestral, chamber and Baroque music, organ and celebrity recitals, new music, jazz, world music and pop – at two of L.A.’s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall ( and the Hollywood Bowl ( The LA Phil’s season extends from September through May at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, education and community programs. 

    Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA)
    Since Fall of 2007, YOLA has grown to serve 700 students, ages 6-18, in South L.A., the Rampart District and East L.A. YOLA partners share costs and program management responsibilities. The YOLA initiative currently consists of three programs: YOLA at EXPO, YOLA at HOLA, and YOLA at LACHSA.

    Part of Exposition Park in South L.A., YOLA at EXPO has grown to include three orchestras, mentorship, group lessons, chamber music, and parent ensembles. The program serves hundreds of students who attend four days each week. In addition, students perform annually at Walt Disney Concert Hall and have appeared multiple times on the iconic stage of the Hollywood Bowl. YOLA at EXPO is a partnership of the LA Phil, Harmony Project, and EXPO Center, a City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks facility.

    YOLA at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), located in the Rampart District, serves hundreds of students with intensive after-school orchestral instruction five days a week. Classes include music creativity, singing and solfège, ensemble rehearsals, and academic tutoring daily. This holistic approach fosters a sense of community and provides the students with the opportunity to take advantage of HOLA’s exceptional programs and resources. YOLA at HOLA is a partnership between the LA Phil and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA).

    YOLA at LACHSA engages 140 students, ages 8-11. High school students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts act as mentors to their younger YOLA counterparts. YOLA at LACHSA is a partnership between the LA Phil and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

    Principal Investigator Hazel Rose Markus, PhD, is the Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where she also the Faculty Director of Stanford SPARQ and a founder and former Co-Director of the Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. A prominent social psychologist and pioneer in cultural psychology, her areas of expertise include culture, culture change, gender, race, ethnicity, self, identity, emotion, motivation, and health. She is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and a recipient of the APA’s Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution.

    Co-PI Alana Conner, PhD, is a cultural scientist and writer who serves as the Executive Director of SPARQ and the Behavioral Science Adviser to the Stanford School of Medicine’s Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC). She has presented her award-winning research on culture, agency, and health in both top-tier psychology journals and popular media such as The New York Times Magazine, TEDx, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review, where she served as senior editor for years. Of relevance to this project: she studied classical piano for 13 years, including one year at Yale University, where she also sang in the Yale Slavic Chorus for four years.

    Stanford SPARQ. Markus and Conner are directors of Stanford SPARQ: Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions. An initiative of the Stanford Department of Psychology, SPARQ is a "do tank" that creates and shares social psychological insights with people working to improve society. SPARQ's theories and methods arise from social psychology, which is the scientific study of how people influence each other's thoughts, feelings, and actions. SPARQ’s current research partners include The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Delete Blood Cancer, and the Oakland Police Department. SPARQ’s resources for disseminating findings include its online Solutions Catalog (, which is a searchable online database of proven-effective social science fixes to real-world problems; its e-newsletter, which has some 2,500 subscribers; and its website, Twitter, and Facebook assets.


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    Sophie Jefferies,, 213.972.3422
    Lisa Bellamore,, 213.972.3689
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