Joanne Taylor, Founder and major donor

YOSAL was founded in 2010 by philanthropists Joanne Taylor Johnson and friends Lois & Don Mayol, and then Superintendent of the Salinas City Elementary School District, Donna Vaughan. They got together because of the need for music education in Salinas, most specifically in East Salinas.

Joanne used her social influence and passion for music to gather up friends to give birth to Youth Orchestra Salinas; inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, YOSAL began with 40 students; the program now carries up to 275 students per year.  YOSAL offers musical enrichment to at-risk and under-served children from kindergarten through high school.  The focus and discipline acquired with the musical training is reflected in improved math and language skills, leading to fewer school absences.

Taylor and her family have supported YOSAL’s efforts since its inception and she continues to be a part of the YOSAL Board and assisting in fundraising efforts and cultivating major gifts.

YOSAL is thankful to Joanne and the Taylor family and friends for their dedication to supporting a program that changes lives each day.


Alan Truong, YOSAL Alumnus Alan Truong (18) was born and raised in Salinas, CA. His family is from Vietnam. “I learned to read music before I learned to talk,” he said. He joined YOSAL when he was in 6th grade at Kammann Elementary; a teacher mentioned YOSAL and no one knew about it – so when he heard that it was free music education, he did not hesitate and hopped on the bus. Alan is entering his sophomore year at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. He is majoring in Bassoon Performance and it is his plan to continue on to grad school for conducting. He worked for YOSAL during our summer program as teaching assistant and he displayed great talent for conducting the orchestra. “I knew that I loved music,” he shared. “YOSAL helped me to amplify my love and interests for music.”  His siblings are also in the music realm, one of his brothers, Edward, is currently a YOSAL student. A local inspiration to him has been Farkhad Khudyev, Youth Music Monterey Director, “he did things in a way that made us enjoy the music; he was as big in the philosophy as in the technique in the way music made us feel.” He says that he has YOSAL to thank for all the support and exposure to other music programs.



Student Stories


Meet Betsy, a 4th grader at Jesse Sanchez Elementary in Salinas. She loves music. Each day, she comes to YOSAL with the best attitude in the world. It is infectious!  She enjoys being in pre-orchestra and looks forward to moving up to orchestra to learn the violin. By looking at her and interacting with her, you would not know that she lives with some challenges.  For two years, she has not seeing her dad; he lives in Mexico due to immigration laws, thus leaving her mom to work extra hard to provide for her and her siblings.  But for Betsy, music is the best medicine and looks forward to it daily with a huge smile on her face.


Ivan (11) is a sixth grader at Kammann Elementary School in Salinas. He attends YOSAL daily.  He has always been fascinated  with music and loves YOSAL because he gets to play and learn many of the instruments. His favorite instrument is the French Horn. “I enjoy challenges and heard that the French Horn is the most challenging instruments in orchestra,” he said. In photo, Ivan is taking a lesson from Orchestra Conductor, Jackie Orzel. He says that he loves music so much that he wants to be a musician and also a cook – he enjoys doing both these activities. With his energy and sense of curiosity, Ivan will reach all his goals!


YOSAL is filled with youth! Each year, we find multiple sets of siblings in our database – this tells us that music is being spread throughout the community in a big way.  Such is the case of Jennifer (16), Adriana (13), and Alejandra (10) – they are sisters who love to come to YOSAL each day. This Family Affair is what strengthens our staff’s spirit of joy for what is fueled inside our walls. What great happiness it brings to know an entire family can benefit from the free music education provided thanks to donors and grantors. For these three, music is and will continue to be a huge part of their lives!