Friday, October 10, 2008

Why are you in youth orchestra?

Been thinking a lot about my last two posts. I want all of our youth orchestra members to think about why they are in the orchestra. The number one reason should be to play in an ensemble, to learn how to join with others to create harmony on many levels.

If you are in the youth orchestra because you want to be a professional musician or you want 'section principal' on your resume, I've got news for you. You'd better follow the Leittens to Atlanta because Birmingham youth orchestras have no cache. No one was more driven than my Molly to build an impressive resume. Yet I had to force her to finish her last year in the Alabama Youth Symphony. By her senior year, she'd realized that being AYS principal cellist for two years meant little to her future. Aspen Music Festival and 'From the Top' meant everything. When Molly applied to Tanglewood, the person she talked to kindly explained that they don't generally consider students from Alabama!

Since we began Scrollworks and reached out into the larger community, our youth ensembles have become something more than an opportunity to work through the classical repertoire. We now have students who've never taken a private lesson sharing a stand with those who've spent thousands on lessons. We have students with instruments that cost as much as a car sitting next to students who borrow Scrollworks instruments when we're not using them for teaching. (The effort these students and their parents make to get the instruments and return them says an awful lot about the importance of music in their lives.)

Everyone in the youth orchestras has something to learn and something to give. We can share musical knowledge and skills. We can share life experience and attitude. We can build a community that ripples out beyond the rehearsal hall.

MYO, MCYO, and Scrollworks haven't even gotten to the 'terrible twos'. We're bound to stumble and stutter. If you feel that your musical and personal development is going to be stunted by participating in the sometimes awkward growth and development of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestras, we hope that you will search out an organization that will serve you better. We'll miss you, but we'll keep going and growing.

Scrollworks has gained worldwide attention. We're listed on the El Sistema and El Sistema-NYC websites. We get inquiries from all over the US as well as a couple from England and Italy. Maybe participation in our program is a resume item that'll make those outside Alabama take notice.


Anonymous said...

I just have to add that "volunteer (insert name of instrument) instructor for nonprofit organization Scrollworks" would look VERY good on a resume or school application!

Jeane Goforth said...

Good point!