Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club
1339 East 120th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90059


Mission, History, and Program

Mission Statement
The Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory is a program designed to transform the lives and minds of young people in the Watts-Willowbrook area of Los Angeles through high quality music education.
The Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory (WWC) is based at the Watts-Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club (WWBGC) and was established in early 2010 in partnership with SAPPA (Scholarship Performance Preparatory Academy.) The program is part of the WWBGC cultural arts strategy that creates opportunities for children who are challenged everyday by living in the most economically depressed area in Southern California.

The structure of the Conservatory was carefully developed by Billy Mitchell, SAPPA executive director, Dr. Charles Dickerson, founder and director of the Inner-City Youth Orchestra, and Les Jones, executive director of the WWBGC. Organizations such as the Harmony Project and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) have offered expert advice in a cooperative effort to use the best practices and the best teachers in this new project. concept and pedagogy of theThe Watts-Willowbrook

Music Conservatory was inspired by “El Sistema” the world-renowned music outreach and education program in Venezuela, whose mission is to create social change, bring the highest quality programs to underserved communities, and transform the lives and minds of young people through music education.

Participants attend after school, 1-hour classes at the clubhouse twice a week, where they learn to read music and play symphonic instruments provided to them at no cost. Parent engagement is key to the program’s success. They must attend at least two classes with their children and sign a contract, which requires them to ensure their children practice at home. In the first year, 50 students attained basic performance level on the violin, which was the first instrument taught.
In 2011, the program expanded to include cello and viola. By the end of the year we had 75 students participating in a full youth orchestra program. To that end we are establishing satellite and affiliate music programs in the same community. The Watts-Willowbrook Youth Symphony program includes students from the following south LA schools: Samuel Gompers, Willowbrook, Markham, Southeast and Bret Harte Middle Schools 99th Street, Carver, McNaire Elementary Schools Figueroa Street, Barrett, Laurel Street, St. Vincent, Amestoy Elementary Schools Vanguard Learning Center and Barack Obama Charter School

These pilot satellite programs are designed to be the network of instrumental instruction programs that will form the core of a first class youth symphony orchestra made up entirely of youngsters from the South Central LA and Watts community: the Watts-Willowbrook Youth Symphony.

Our program is parent driven. We involve parents in our program by providing information and giving the parent the opportunity to participate. The family support systems will allow the inner-city arts community to grow and operate at a competitive, consistent level.