Back to the Youth Symphony

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In 2006, when I first heard about the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, something told me this would be a wonderful thing for my children, if I had any. At the time, I did not have any, but I had recently been married.

Orchestra Rehearsal

Our children before the first orchestra rehearsal of the school year

Fast forward a decade and our children auditioned successfully for the youth symphony. For four years, between 2016-2020, we drove to Knoxville every week for rehearsals and concerts at the Tennessee Theater. The children made progress slowly but surely, advancing through the orchestra levels. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 27th Week

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Oh, what a week! It started out with a dress rehearsal and then the actual concert with Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras. Our daughter plays in Preludium and our son in Sinfonia. Here are YouTube links to their concert: Preludium and Sinfonia.

SO Medals

2020 SO Medals – one medal for every event

They did well, as usual. It does not get old – that’s the first lesson. As much as we work with them in music lessons and driving them to orchestra practice, at the end of the day, it is worth it. If you can afford music lessons, it would probably be the best use of your money on extracurricular activities. Continue reading »


Lessons from the Sixteenth Week

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We have come close to the middle of this school year. Week 18 will happen here in a couple of weeks. In the US, there are 36 school weeks, or 180 school days, in case you did not know that. So here we are, starting week 17 and looking back at week 16. What have we learned?

Before the concert, mom and children

Before their concert at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville

First of all, I have slowed down my Trello lesson planning. For those of you new to homeschooling and planning, this happens every year. Once you know what you are doing and what your daily goals are, you do not need to put it into writing anymore. Continue reading »


Philharmonia Winter Concert

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My son’s orchestra, Philharmonia, gave a winter concert last night at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville, alongside three other ensembles: Preludium, Sinfonia, and the Chamber Orchestra.

Boy and girl with rabbit ears

My kids goofing off after the concert

One of my friends has a daughter in the same orchestra and she films it. We are so grateful for her efforts. Here’s a link to the 2018 Philharmonia Winter Concert. My son is in the second violin section. Continue reading »


What Makes a Good Fundraiser?

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Recently, KSYO asked me to join their fundraiser team of parents and staff. I am not looking for things to do, but it was hard to refuse. I like this organization and what they are doing for my children. I accepted and then started researching a bit how I can help.

Fundraisers are notoriously difficult to get right. No matter how hard you work, there is always something waiting to go wrong for you. However, real persistence and a willingness to go the extra mile can pay off big time. You first need to start thinking about what makes a good school fundraiser. When you know what success would look like, you can start putting the right plans in place. Here are some of the things that help make a good fundraiser.

 

Fun

First and foremost, your school fundraiser has to be a lot of fun. Otherwise, why would anyone even want to get involved or play a part? It might seem like an obvious thing to point out, but you’d be surprised by the number of school fundraisers that truly are no fun at all. All that will do is sour the experience and ensure people don’t come back next time. It’s important to think about the long-term, not just the here and now.

 

Something Out of the Ordinary

Most people and most parents have been to a million school fundraisers before. That means they don’t want to be presented with the same old stuff and the same old ideas that they’ve seen a million times before. Do something out of the ordinary if you want to get people talking about your fundraiser and turning up in higher numbers. To put it simply, don’t be boring.

 

Prizes to be Won

No school fundraiser would be complete without a raft of prizes waiting to be given away. You definitely need to make sure the prizes you’ve got lined up are appealing to the kinds of families and parents that are most likely to show up to this whole thing. Head to httpss://www.the-fund-raiser.com/how-to-personalize-wine-gift-baskets/ if you want some gift basket ideas. Put thought and care into the selections you make.

Science Fair as Fundraiser

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A Strong Venue

You’re going to need to have a good venue lined up for your fundraising event because if you don’t, it might not be suited to what you’re trying to achieve. Make it somewhere that people will find easy to get to. And don’t forget to think about all the logistical things such as car parking. All these things matter a lot, and they shouldn’t be swept to one side. Continue reading »


Orchestra Portraits

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The night of the Gatlinburg wildfires, my children and I were in Knoxville for their last orchestra practice of the year. That was the night we picked up their orchestra portraits and some merchandise we had ordered: a car magnet for me, which says “Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras;” two mascot lamas, and sweatshirts with the orchestra logo and roster.

Girl with violin

With everything going on since the fire, I have barely had time to enjoy these things or to blog about them. A life-changing event like a national disaster sure puts things into perspective. Nevertheless, as things begin to align toward a new normal, we have time and energy to feel the pride of having joined the youth orchestras this year. Continue reading »


Our Son’s First KSYO Concert

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I can’t believe I have not shared with you guys about my son’s first concert on the stage of the Tennessee Theater, with the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra. He played with the Preludium ensemble, which opened the concert that night. Erin Archer is the wonderfully talented and patient conductor of this group of youngsters.

KSYO Preludium Concert

Our son (photo center, in jacket) during the concert with KSYO. Photo Credit: Faithful Photography

Kathy Hart, who directs Sinfonia and is the overall KSYO manager, told the Preludium after the concert that their pieces were the strongest opening concert of any Preludium in the 23-year history of KSYO. That’s saying a lot. They really did sound so well that night. Continue reading »


Rehearsals Have Started

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We have only seven more rehearsals until our children’s first concert on the stage of the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville. The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra operates six different ensembles for children on different levels of music skills. Our children auditioned this summer and got into Overture and Preludium respectively.

KSYO Preludium Practice

My son (in red shirt) during his first practice with KSYO Preludium

This experience may be a tad more exciting for me than for them, although I can see they like playing in their groups. They made some friends over the summer during String Camp and they were excited to see them again now that they are in the orchestra together. Continue reading »


My Children Got Into Youth Orchestra

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Last Sunday, we took our children to West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, where the Knoxville Symphony held auditions for their youth orchestra. They have six ensembles and our kids auditioned for the entry level orchestra called Preludium.

Boy and girl at Pearl Harbor Exhibit

Our children at the Pearl Harbor Exhibit inside Ripley’s Aquarium

By Wednesday, I was getting really anxious to hear the results, even though their violin teacher, who is a concert master in Canada, assured me they would get accepted. The question was, also, how they would be placed, as they are two years apart in skills. I knew that KSYO might start another ensemble, for children whose skills are not yet at Preludium level, but nothing was certain.  Continue reading »


Auditioning for KSYO

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Today was the day we had been looking forward to since the end of June. It was at the end of June my children attended String Camp in Knoxville, with the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra. When we started camp, I did not think we would be interested in joining simply because of the drive.

Boy and girl with violins

Before the second day of String Camp last summer

But by the end of the week, we were hooked. My children were having fun in orchestra and even though I was exhausted I knew it would all be worth it. Plus, I was enjoying seeing they finally had some positive feelings about the violin. Making friends who also like violin helped a lot, I think.  Continue reading »