In 2015, Houston Youth Symphony expanded its reach into the community with the HYS Coda Music Program, an El Sistema-inspired, after-school project that targets children from low-income families in Houston's Near Northside neighborhood. El Sistema began in 1975 in Venezuela and uses music education to engage children in a safe and fun environment, while helping them build self-esteem and a sense of value. Today, El Sistema-inspired programs have been established in more than 55 countries and throughout the United States.
The Coda Music Program brings graduated, intensive string instruction to third, fourth and fifth grade students after school in select Houston ISD elementary schools. Current participating schools are Looscan Elementary, Sherman Elementary and Jefferson Elementary schools. Using group instruction to build community and social transformation through string ensemble and performance opportunities, the program meets twice a week on each campus after school. Two hours every afternoon are devoted to music instruction, which includes rhythm class, group lessons, and ensemble playing. Coda groups perform for their schools at assemblies, and join together to perform as a large ensemble for community gatherings.