KSYO Spring Concert 2023

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On May 1, 2023, at the Tennessee Theater, the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra performed their last concert of the season. This concludes our fifth year with this organization.

KSYO Youth Chamber Orchestra in rehearsal

Youth Chamber in rehearsal at Bearden Middle School – the conductor is on the right of the sitting area, checking the sound

It gets tough to drive them there once a week for 70 minutes one way and to return home around 9:45pm. By February I wonder if I am quite right in my mind to be making such efforts so they can “be in orchestra.” But then I persevere and the Winter Concert happens. I take heart for the last third of the season.

By the Spring Concert, we feel like it was all worth it. A lot of progress invariably happened. Beautiful music flowed into our minds and souls, improving our quality of life and character. The time spent commuting helped bond us in many ways as we shared our thoughts and feelings with each other.

Our son plays in the Youth Chamber orchestra and they played Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony – a jewel of a piece. Katie Liaw conducted.

In the last two weeks before the concert, we had a scare that he would not be able to play. He had hurt his shoulder blade due to a combination of shoveling, flapping his arms fast, and taekwondo over three days.

He sat out one rehearsal and took Aleve every 12 hours, as the doctor recommended. As time went on, he got better and better and was able to sit in the dress rehearsal – whew! Crisis averted. It would have been so disappointing to practice for the entire season and miss the last concert.

Our daughter plays in the Philharmonia Orchestra. They played two arrangements of Tchaikovsky pieces and an American contemporary composer. Cynthia Wright conducted.


Youth Symphony Fall Concert

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How is this possible? How did I not blog about my pride and joy, the youth symphony concerts which have already happened this season? So back in November, our children with their respective orchestras played at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Theater

The Tennessee Theater

There are six orchestras. Our daughter plays in Philharmonia (the one in the middle) and our son plays in the Youth Chamber (the second from the top). The music is gorgeous. Continue reading »


2017 String Camp

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For the second year in a row, I took the kids to String Camp in Knoxville. The youth symphony has four levels of orchestras during camp time and it is a wonderful time for the kids to grow, learn, and have fun while making friends and enjoying themselves.

Boy and girl at String Camp

My kids on day 2 of camp

This year, they were in two separate orchestras, as opposed to last summer, when they were both in the beginning orchestra. My son has gone to the next level, called Overture, while my daughter is still in the beginning orchestra, called Prelude. She has only studied violin for two years now and will need another year before she could go to the next level.  Continue reading »


3 Simple Solutions for Music and Art in Homeschooling

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In homeschooling, just like in traditional schooling, it can be tempting to set music and art aside for when we have time (or money). How can a busy homeschooling mom add music and art to an already full schedule? Here are my solutions (besides violin lessons):

1. Can You Hear It? will start you on this quest to steal a few moments for classical music and art appreciation simultaneously. My kids love this book and CD, which we got from the library. We soon got our own copy from Amazon.

I play the music during meals, but, also, while I cook and they play nearby. We open the book and turn the pages as the tracks change. Sometimes I read to the kids from the book. Other times, we listen and comment on what we see.

Small girl having tea and looking at painting

My daughter listens to “Carnival of the Animals – Aquarium” while looking at the corresponding painting in “Can You Hear It” and enjoying a bagel and raspberry zinger tea; my son is not in the picture because he was finishing up a LEGO project before joining us.

2. A Year in Art offers us visual pleasure as we enjoy our afternoon tea time, a tradition we started about a month ago. Around 4pm, I put a tea kettle on the stove and get out some scones, or biscuits, or bagels, or graham crackers, or toast. I use what I have on hand.

We open the book and look at 3-5 paintings while sipping tea and enjoying something sweet. They have questions. We look for answers together. Sometimes we locate towns and countries on a world atlas.

3. Free concerts – We catch the Knoxville Youth Symphony concerts several times a year and, also, the Sevier County Choral Society concerts (December and May). I used to sing with the Choral Society before I became a mom, so it sort of feels like a reunion for me. If you check your local newspaper or Google free concerts in your area, you should find similar offerings where you live.

I have felt the liberating and relaxing effects of art and music in our homeschooling enough, that I am thinking about experimenting with doing music and/or art before math, reading or writing. I’ll let you know if I have enough courage to implement it on a regular basis. So far, I have done it once and we all loved it.