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On Wednesday, March 2, at the 2015 STEAM Connect Conference Opening Reception SDYS’ President and CEO Dalouge

Smith accepted one of the first STEAM Connect Da Vinci Awards presented by Mayor Kevin Faulconer. This award recognized the youth symphony’s work that advocates for music education to be available to all children. Here are Dalouge Smith’s comments after receiving the award:

“Thank you Dana, Mayor Faulconer, and STEAM Connect. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of everyone at San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, including our board of directors, conductors, teaching artists, and staff. Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the parents and student musicians that choose to make music an essential part of their family’s life.

We have received substantial recognition over the past several years for rebuilding music and arts education in the schools of Chula Vista and beyond. However, it is local recognition that means the most to us. Having the community we serve value our efforts to ensure all children experience the power of music to change lives, strengthen families, and improve communities motivates us to continue.

At the Youth Symphony we witness the power of STEAM every year as large numbers of our musicians balance their participation in music with science fairs, math Olympiads, and internships at local research institutes. Numerous Youth Symphony musicians have won local, state, and national science competitions, including the prestigious Siemens Competition.

Collaboration with science is also embedded in the character of the Youth Symphony. Our SIMPHONY research project with UCSD’s Center for Human Development measures the impact of learning music on cognitive, verbal, and perception skills in children. We are now developing plans to examine the health and wellness implications of playing a musical instrument.

This research aims to explain what we see when children have access to learning music, especially children who face the hardest personal, family, and environmental challenges. Why is it that a child who couldn’t blow out his birthday candles until age five can now play the clarinet? How is singing helping English language learners acquire vocabulary faster than before music class came to their school? What is music providing that motivates students to come to school with a fever on music day? What is it about a school holiday concert that draws a thousand parents to squeeze into their school’s 150 person multi-purpose room when they don’t come to the school otherwise?

One thing research need not tell us is that for San Diego and our children to remain competitive, every child in the county must have the opportunity to learn the arts alongside other subjects. We are fortunate our Mayor is here to help us make the case for music and arts education to be alive in every San Diego school. Ultimately, everyone here tonight and at the STEAM Connect conference tomorrow must be aggressive advocates for policies and programs that ensure every child receives an education that includes the arts so they have a greater chance to succeed in work and life.

Providing strong music and arts programs to complement the importance of science, technology, engineering and math requires us all to work in unison for the benefit of our children and our region. Thank you for recognizing San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory’s contribution to this shared effort. We are honored to work alongside all of you.”

San Diego Youth Symphony