In 2017, an eighth grade teacher challenged Nicholas Boettcher's class to make a difference in their community. Nicholas, the principal bassists with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), developed a music mentor program for teens who are incarcerated and recruited his brother, Jack, the principal cellist for CYSO. The No Repeats Project. was created!
This music mentor program uses advanced musicians to teach music at a local juvenile detention center. The idea came after learning about Northwestern University’s Civic Engagement program, Arts and Music Programs for Education in Detention Centers (AMPED)
“Very quickly, we realized our program faced many obstacles— instrument access/inconsistent attendance/low self-confidence/variable education levels/etc, not to mention being taken seriously because of our age. In order to tackle any of these problems, we needed to collaborate with many different people. First, we convinced the facility to allow us to come in weekly. After all, it is a correctional center with tight security and we are teens. We needed to get clearance, and we needed guards for all our sessions. Next, we needed instruments. So we partnered with Austin's Violin Shop, a local luthier, who generously donated the regular use of instruments and bows. Our current challenge is also our biggest reward, teaching kids how to play an instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass) that is foreign to them. We use various methods to keep their attention, improve their confidence, and keep them coming to our sessions. “
The success of our program depends on so many people. And while we still have challenges to overcome, we hope that as the program grows, our mentorship will help increase the self-esteem and self-confidence among the teens and decrease their likelihood of coming back after they leave (no repeats!).