A Gift For Music provides tuition-free music education to underserved and urban youth, inspiring them with creative music-making opportunities. Youth participants learn the technical skills and musical knowledge needed to make music a lasting part of their lives, all while fostering a passion for music and self-expression. Each semester, youth showcase their hard work and dedication in free public concerts at local universities and colleges.

As A Gift For Music continues to grow, youth are given a voice in shaping the future of the program. A Gift For Music’s Student Advisory Council, consisting of students from throughout the program, helps make decisions on program activities, unique partnerships, and ways of contributing to our local community. In this way, youth develop into both great musicians and community leaders.

Why A Gift For Music Speaks to Young People

  • Youth lead our Student Advisory Council, which helps shape program activities and performances.
  • Youth select topics that are of concern to them and these themes are used in our Concerts with Conscience series, tying youth concerns to the concert music we select.
  • Youth volunteer to perform for charities and organizations around Orlando, giving them the opportunity to engage directly with their community.
  • Youth help each other through our peer-mentoring program, called Music Mentors.

A Gift For Music Mission Statement

  • Our mission is to empower Orlando’s underserved and urban youth to envision a positive future for themselves and discover their own creativity through music.
    We do this through:
    In-school and After-School Elementary Group Classes – In groups of no more than 20 students, A Gift For Music’s instructors introduce elementary-aged students to playing a string instrument and making music together.
    Intense Saturday Orchestra Program - Students from 4th grade to 12th grade work in A Gift For Music’s three ensembles to learn new instrument techniques and to embrace the habits of good musicians, opening the door to a lifetime of music-making.
    Summer Camps- Students in A Gift For Music’s summer camps dive deeper into creative projects and small ensemble performance, allowing them to explore their musicianship in new ways.

Throughout A Gift For Music’s programming, partnerships with local arts organizations, universities, and other creative institutions enable students to connect with world class artists, meet professionals in the music field, and give back to their community in meaningful ways.

Background of A Gift For Music

In 1999, A Gift For Music was founded as a program of A Gift For Teaching in order to provide tuition-free instrument instruction to students who otherwise could not afford it. The program began with 25 students, a class set of violins, and an undeviating belief that A Gift For Music would improve the lives of students in need through inspired music-making. Since then, more than 8,000 students from throughout Orlando have studied string instruments with A Gift For Music, while our mission grew from simply exposing students to the joys of music-making to empowering students to discover their creativity through music.

Since moving its Saturday Orchestra rehearsals to UCF CREATE in 2012, A Gift For Music has garnered national attention as one of the top 50 arts education programs in the country. In 2014, A Gift For Music was recognized as a finalist in the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. Renowned music educators Dr. Mauricio Céspedes and Mr. Michael Simpson led its Saturday Orchestra program.

A Gift For Music's Programs at UCF CREATE

Comprehensive Saturday Orchestra Program
Term: Weekly Saturday rehearsals from August to May
Goals: To inspire students to become lifelong music-makers through progressive, challenging orchestra ensembles that enhance students’ skills, knowledge, and appreciation for music.

Intensive Summer Camp
Term: One week summer camp in June/July
Goals: To provide students a unique opportunity to work with professional musicians in small ensembles, and to inspire these students to use technology as a means to become more expressive, creative musicians.

Standard Program Deliverables

  • Community concerts throughout the year
  • Individualized and group instruction from professional music educators
  • Collaborative and creative media projects
Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment • College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Central Florida
UCF Center for Emerging Media • 500 Bentley Street Orlando, FL 32801 • Phone: 407-235-3603 • Website Technical Support: