WYSO Plays On 

The shocker came on March 11 with the postponement of the sold-out Youth Orchestra concert at the Hamel Music Center. In swift succession, every Spring concert and recital, the gala fundraiser, and all rehearsals followed suit. So how exactly was the season going to be salvaged? By harnessing a combination of available technologies from video-conferencing, to emails, to google docs, over 500 WYSO students have received music, private coaching, Music Maker lessons, and orchestra meetings– and we are only in Week 3 of Governor Evers “Safer at Home” Order.

Each WYSO Conductor has reached deep into their bag of tricks to present captivating content across the socially mandated distance, from WYSO Music Director and Youth Orchestra Conductor, Kyle Knox’s weekly video messages—to Erin Barnard’s Teaching Website (Barnard’s Strings and Things), where students can find music, lessons, and resources. From weekly emails to YouTube messages, the conductors are reaching out with stories of how they are spending their days and sharing practice tips with their students.

In addition, each student has received small class coaching, grouped by section of their orchestra. Coaches include our chamber music coaches, as well as our regular list of section coaches and all are being paid by WYSO through the Spring season. These 20 coaches have been meeting with groups of 5-7 students each Saturday via Zoom, using an intricate schedule created by WYSO Membership Manager Valree Casey that included over 42 Zoom coaching sessions in the first two Saturdays combined.

The amazing thing about Zoom is that the coaches are looking right into the faces of their students as together they explore the subtleties of instrument technique they don’t have time to tackle during a busy concert season. And in the Music Maker Zoom sessions, the parents have been involved as well as their students. The first week, the Music Maker parents learned how to help their students tune their violins. And one parent even successfully replaced a broken string, all through Zoom video coaching.

And yet, even with the power of video conferencing, students, coaches, and conductors are all anxious to return to meeting in-person. Perhaps Maestro Knox has said it the best, “I suspect it goes without saying, but these sessions can never replace our regular Saturday meetings. There is no substitute for being together in large ensembles– and being together is at the core of what WYSO does. The dilemma for us is undeniable. So, it is with this challenge in mind that we hope to deliver the best and highest quality content we can online. “

“My Saturdays are just not the same without you all.”

Support WYSO

Click to make a secure online donation.

Shop AmazonSmile

Support WYSO programs when you shop AmazonSmile!

Stay In Touch

Sign up to receive our newsletter and/or emails on concerts and special events.