Youth Symphony Winter Concert

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The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras held their Winter Concert on February 13, 2017 at the Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville, as usual. My son’s orchestra, Preludium, played first. Their two pieces were March of the Meistersingers by Richard Wagner and Eine Kleine Nachtsmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Boy walks with his violin at Tennessee Theater

Our son after playing with his orchestra

The other three orchestras – Philharmonia, Sinfonia and the Youth Chamber – also played that night. The top youth symphony orchestra played on the following Monday, on February 20, along with the Concerto Competition winners. We live one hour away from Knoxville so we excused ourselves from attending the concert on the 20th. The kids love classical music but they get bored by sitting in the audience for more than 45 minutes and these concerts last for at least one hour.  Continue reading »

I did not want to drive for two hours both ways only to sit in the audience and shush them down every two minutes. I know they need the opportunity to practice sitting down and being quiet, but I think we do pretty well by attending our regular concerts when one of them is on stage or the professional concerts for children by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra plus church events. One must draw the line somewhere, otherwise we would be all over the place.

So on the 13th, when our son was on stage, we had a lot of fun taking in the sights and sounds at the Tennessee Theater again. For me, there is no greater joy than to see my children make music. I am proud of their other achievements but there is something about music. I wish I had gone further in my own music efforts as a child and so I naturally want my children to go further than I did. It’s the classic syndrome of a parent’s unfulfilled dreams which get passed onto the children.

My children enjoy music and they hum while they play throughout the day. They even hum while doing their math. Do they complain about having to practice daily? Sure. But they are slowly learning that quitting is not an option and skipping practice is not an option either. If they had to choose, they would probably stick with piano and ditch violin, but I will not give them an out. We have invested too much in this endeavor – it would be a waste.

Therefore, we press on, and participating in orchestra actually helps them enjoy violin more. They get to be with other children and receive that gentle peer pressure from having to keep up with their stand partners. They belong to a group who plays string instruments and I think it helps them stay motivated to practice. By building skills, they build confidence and enjoyment ensues. We look forward to receiving their new music for the spring concert, which will be in May.


String Camp

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My children attended String Camp for the first time this year. Organized by the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras, this five-day camp happened at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville. About 256 string players showed up and they were organized in five orchestras according to their skills and experience.

KSYO String Camp

On the last day of camp, they wore “concert attire” – as you can see, very relaxed atmosphere.

Since my children had no orchestra experience, they were placed in the entry-level orchestra called Prelude. Erin Archer is the conductor of Preludium, the equivalent of this entry-level for the regular youth orchestra, and so she directed Prelude during String Camp. They played Over the Rainbow and the main theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme of the camp was “That’s Entertainment!” and so all the repertoire was from movies and musicals. Continue reading »

This string camp is highly recommended for players who want to audition for youth orchestras at the end of August. I did not think I would want to start driving weekly to Knoxville again, but we signed up for the camp for a fun and educational summer activity. I also thought this would help the kids with their morale. They have been a little down about their violin experience and have been telling me how much more they enjoy the piano.

Boy and girl with music T-shirts

Wednesday is music T-shirt day. It was fun shopping for these shirts for them.

I figured a bit of ensemble playing and seeing other kids their age play would help. What do you know? It did. Not only do they want to audition for and hopefully join the orchestra in the fall, my son actually got inspired to appreciate the sound of cellos. On the last day of camp, he came to me and said, “I think I would like to learn how to play the cello.” I told him I was not opposed to it and we can talk to several people in Knoxville about finding the right teacher and instrument.

KSYO string camp costume day

Thursday is costume day. So I took Princess Elsa and Master Ninja to String Camp that day.

The string camp consists of two hours, Monday-Thursday: rehearsals, activities, snacks, music appreciation, workshops. On Friday, they stay there from 9am through 3:45pm. After rehearsals and team-building exercises, they get a pizza lunch and a movie (a musical). Then, it’s time for tuning and for joining all the other orchestra levels to rehearse Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 – a camp tradition. The little kids just play open string G half notes if they get lost in that piece. Nobody is worried about it. The bigger kids usually carry the melody as first violins.

At 2:30pm, the concert begins. It is such a glorious celebration of music and children. We parents of course are busy filming and blinking back tears of pride and joy. String Camp was a great experience for us and I highly recommend it. If you live near a city with an orchestra, you might want to inquire if they offer youth symphony opportunities.

Here’s hoping that my children will get into KSYO this Fall!