A Short History of The Decatur Youth Symphony

Spring 1998 – Kay Grubbs, music teacher at Woodmeade Elementary School, piloted a program in which 3rd grade students received class violin lessons through the Hunstville Symphony Orchestra.

Fall 1998 – Jeanne Payne, supervisor of elementary school curriculum for Decatur City Schools, received funding from the Sexton Foundation and Raymon Baker to extend the violin program to all 3rd grade students in the City of Decatur.

2003 – Stan Belsky, local business man, and mayor Lynn Fowler established The Decatur Youth Symphony as a division of Parks and Recreation with Tommy Davis as orchestra director.

2009 – Tommy Davis, conductor of the Decatur Youth Symphony, established a Percussion Ensemble in partnership with Decatur Youth Services.

2011 – Jacob Frank became conductor of Decatur Youth Symphony.

2012 – “Breakfast With the Classics,” a before-school program, began at Woodmeade Elementary.

2015 – Aaron Plunkett, percussion instructor, formed the World Percussion Ensemble at Boys and Girls Club, and in 2016 added Woodmeade Elementary.

2016 – Decatur Youth Symphony assumed administration of the “3rd grade Violin Program”, moving it to the 2nd grade.

Current – Now in its 15th year, Decatur Youth Symphony has 12 orchestras/ensembles and an enrollment of over 300. Our outreach program has expanded to Austinville, Cedar Ridge, Walter Jackson, and in the fall of 2018 will add guitar at Eastwood. The future growth of the arts in Decatur has no limits. The story of Decatur Youth Symphony is being written as every note is played. 

Mission Statement

The Decatur Youth Symphony transforms lives through music by providing students the opportunity to learn and perform music, impacting the culture of our community.

Vision Statement

The Decatur Youth Symphony will:

  • provide young musicians with the benefits of character development and life lessons provided through team experience
  • strive to ensure that every qualified student will have the opportunity to participate in our programs, regardless of financial need
  • reach out to underserved students by collaborating with other organizations to provide instrumental instruction that develops musical talent, fosters self esteem, enhances academic performance and promotes good citizenship
  • perform at a quality level at all public performances that will make them a source of civic pride for the community and inspiration for their peers
  • expose our community to live music and foster an awareness of and appreciation for many forms of music