Youth orchestra gives kids safe space to play music during coronavirus pandemic

In the north suburbs of Chicago, the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory is setting a new standard for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still giving kids an opportunity to create music together.

"Our mission -- to build a home with the power of music to enrich the lives of our students and their communities," founder and Director Allan Dennis said.

All music ensembles throughout the country were forced to immediately disband when the first coronavirus wave hit. But after a summer of planning and remote music education, the Midwest Young Artists' team unveiled a plan unlike any other in the nation.

On top of standard protocols, which include constant mask wearing, social distancing, temperature checks and coronavirus questionnaires, plastic barriers are placed between all students' chairs, and plastic enclosures surround any musician who can't wear a mask to play (such as brass or woodwind players).

Nearly all rehearsals are outside. And to maintain that during the winter, MYAC built a massive heated tent just behind their building, which now remains mostly empty.

"It's provided an important creative outlet for these kids, something that we think they need more than ever before," Associate Director Greg Diethrich said.