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HOLA’s Music Program provides HOLA youth with introductory through advanced music instruction, rock bands, jazz bands, a choir and weekly drum, piano, guitar and saxophone lessons. Instruction is sequential and students are encouraged to progress from a beginning level to advanced private instruction. Exceptional students are assisted in preparing audition pieces for acceptance into various music festivals, performing arts schools and universities. Annual recitals showcase the accomplishments of HOLA’s young musicians to audiences city-wide.

Program Goals:

  • Foster commitment to project/goal completion
  • Accelerate and sustain proficiency in the performing arts
  • Encourage self-expression and improve self-confidence among disadvantaged youth
  • Promote post-secondary education and arts-related employment opportunities

In 2010, HOLA partnered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to bring orchestral music to underserved children in Los Angeles. The Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), YOLA at HOLA, is the second site of Gustavo Dudamel’s signature program. YOLA at HOLA is a free music education program that provides participating students with intensive after-school orchestral instruction and academic tutoring.

YOLA at HOLA is directly inspired by LA Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s formative experience with Venezuela’s youth orchestra movement, “El Sistema.” The LA Phil and HOLA share program design, management and financial responsibilities for the program. Each organization is responsible for raising funds to subsidize its own portion of the program’s costs. Now, YOLA at HOLA serves nearly 250 local youth ages 6-16. Over two hundred students spend over 15 hours each week in rehearsals and classes where they learn musicianship, music theory, composition, improvisation and music history. The remaining students begin in the choir and musicianship classes before moving on to the full orchestra.

Click here for enrollment dates.


Rock Band
HOLA’s home-grown rock band, Project 11, is comprised of 14 middle and high school students. They perform original songs written by several of the band members, as well as classic rock and roll tunes. Project 11 has performed at venues throughout Los Angeles, including a recent performance at the legendary House of Blues on Sunset.

Big Band
HOLA’s Big Band is comprised of 10 middle school students who rehearse 2-3 hours weekly. Students in Big Band learn jazz and salsa standards, improvisation and jazz theory. 

Now in its fifth year, HOLA’s community choir is 240 strong. A core group of 30 students rehearse weekly and perform on a regular basis with YOLA at HOLA. As part of the music education component of YOLA at HOLA, all members of the youth orchestra receive regular choir instruction.

Quarterly recitals showcase the accomplishments of HOLA’s young musicians to audiences city-wide. Each year, Holiday of the Heart features performances by our young musicians before an audience of over 600 HOLA supporters. During the past year, YOLA at HOLA students have performed all over the city, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the Hollywood Bowl.

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Monique van Willingh YOLA at HOLA & Music Director
Work Phone: (213) 389-1166
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Emily George YOLA at HOLA Coordinator
Home Phone: (213) 389-1148, ext 303
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Michael Benedict YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Dawn Bertani YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Michael Bigos HOLA Music Teaching Artist
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Blake Cooper YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Jacqueline DesRosier YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Ben Ede YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Michelle Elliot YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Emma Joleen YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Jessica Jones YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Emily Kubitskey YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Emma Kuzmanoff YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Nadene Rasmussen YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Nikki Shorts YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Megumi Smith YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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Mark Tyson HOLA Guitar and Rock Band Teacher
Work Phone: (213) 389-1166
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Dorothy Valencia YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist
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As Youth Orchestra Los Angeles celebrates its 10th anniversary at the LA Philharmonic, 77 musicians from YOLA embarked on five-stop concert tour of California, and YOLA at HOLA sent along eleven of its student musicians along with musicians from the Expo Recreation Center, Harmony Project and LACHSA. “Some of our students have been to London or Tokyo, but they’ve never been on a tour of this scale,” said Monique Van Willingh Music Director at Heart of Los Angeles. “They’re super excited!” The tour started on […]

YOLA at HOLA Musicians Perform with Big Sean

Last week, 25 YOLA at HOLA strings musicians were honored with an invitation to perform at WE Day, accompanying Big Sean’s finale performance of “One Man Can Change the World” at The Forum. WE Day is “a powerful series of educational events that combines the energy of a live concert with the inspiration of extraordinary stories of leadership and change.” The event brought together 16,000 students and educators in an inspirational setting, celebrating the commitment they have made to take action on local and global causes they […]

To Saturn, Heaven, A Black Hole and Beyond

By Nadene Rasmussen, YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist I became a teaching artist at HOLA almost two years ago. I’d been volunteering for a few months, and was constantly inspired by the incredible students who walked through the doors each day. I knew that HOLA was the place for me, so when I was asked to join this amazing faculty, naturally I was thrilled. Today, as one of HOLA’s string specialists, my main goals are to improve technique, instill the value of persistence and consistent […]

Tocar y Luchar (To Play and to Fight)

By Nikki Shorts, YOLA at HOLA Teaching Artist In 2010, the day after my teaching audition for the YOLA at HOLA string teacher position, I sent an email to the director of the music program at the time that said I would love to hear any feedback she had about my audition, and that I was really excited about the fledgling El Sistema-inspired program that I knew would soon be doing so much good for the community.  I told her that as a kid growing up in […]

New Year, New Collaborations at HOLA

With the winter quarter well under way, we’re pleased about the many fun and educational collaborations that have taken off at HOLA.  To celebrate all the love and support of our teachers, directors, staff, volunteers, students and families, we wanted to share with you what’s new in our cozy corner of the universe. Over in Athletics, some of our middle school girls have begun training to run a 5k with the help of nonprofit Girls on the Run. The program is designed to inspire girls to be joyful, […]

Staff Spotlight: Mark Tyson Rocks

Born in Los Angeles in 1959 into a family of musicians, Mark Tyson, HOLA music instructor and founder of our rock band, is living proof that music changes lives. Mark has been an artist his whole life, a performer for 30 years, and a teacher at HOLA since 2004. He has nurtured the talent of many budding musicians. Recently, when we caught up with him, Mark shared his thoughts on teaching, as well as a playlist of the music that has influenced him as a person and artist. Inspirations by a Music Teacher from HeartofLosAngeles on 8tracks […]


HOLA provides underserved youth with exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.


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