Support Salvation Army Wildfire Relief

Kansas City man building a ‘Symphony of Selflessness’ for youth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Darryl Chamberlain grew up in Kansas City and always had a love for music. When he moved to Texas, he relished his hometown memories of high school marching bands in the city’s parades.

So when he moved back home a decade ago, it broke his heart that so many city schools cut music from the budget.

“Shawnee Mission thought music was important,” Chamberlain said. “Raytown, Leawood, Grandview. Everybody's thinking it's important. And I look around Kansas City and I can't see but three or four schools that are teaching music.”

So although his friends thought he was crazy, Chamberlain decided to build his own youth orchestra, on his own dime. Through Craigslist, yard sales and donations, Chamberlain has amassed over 70 instruments and the ‘A Flat Youth Orchestra’ was born.

“I could've bought a car instead of buying all those instruments, but this is important.”

Dozens of studies on the importance of music are in tune with Chamberlain’s passion.

“Music students have the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy, lower rates of violent crime,” Chamberlain said. “The very things we grapple with and we put that very program out of the school that can solve all of that.”

This week, the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade invited the ‘A Flat Youth Orchestra’ to join the festivities.

“We’ll be on a float. Violins don’t march,” Chamberlain joked to his students.

St. James United Methodist Church is proud to give the youth orchestra home, and practice space.

“When we're trying to convey something, sometimes music is the best avenue to do that,” said Senior Pastor Dr. Emanuel Cleaver, III.

Chamberlain’s band has about 15 young musicians right now, enough for a chamber orchestra. But he plans to grow. Chamberlain plans to compose a masterpiece, a full symphony with 70 pieces. He needs more musicians (no experience required) and he needs more instruments.

“This is what music does for you. It gives you victories that you can't get anywhere else.”

If you would like to help the orchestra, you can email Darryl Chamberlain directly at: dcggc@mail.umkc.edu .