Maple Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra Programs
We provide a high quality music education program for students who are just beginning through the most advanced student.
Beginning Strings Program is for students wishing to learn to play violin, viola or cello.
Debut Orchestra is for students with 1-3 years of playing experience. The music and curriculum are geared toward building confidence and skill in playing and performing in a group setting.
Philharmonia Orchestra is for the developing musician with about 2-4 years of playing experience. The music and curriculum are geared toward nurturing the young musician in skill and performance.
Symphony Orchestra is for advanced musicians who are looking to be challenged musically with exciting performing opportunities.
Small Ensembles are for advanced students interested in doing more performing and practice. Our small ensemble groups act as ambassadors for the MVYSO and perform for community events when small ensembles are most appropriate to the event.
Our performances include Concert, Maple Valley Tree Lighting, Thunderbirds Hockey Game, Waltz Gala Ball, Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Game, Lake Wilderness 4th of July Fireworks, and more.
Our goals are to continue to on this path of growth, musical excellence, and community involvement. In order to do this, we intend to do the following:
Develop a student leadership program - We will be training students to lead both musically and socially. We will train them to help the student who might not fit in right away feel welcome, lead their sections musically, help students with music, and help further develop the programs of the MVYSO with their ideas and input.
Have an outstanding summer camp- Each year we offer a low cost summer camp so that students can try us out in a short term, low cost way. We use a movie music theme, offer a lunch program, and have a blast! This has been our best marketing tool. In addition to challenging our students with the music, we will be having the following focuses going on during camp simultaneously: Percussion, String Bass, and beginning orchestra.
Become competitive with more established youth symphony orchestras - We have heard that we are musically competitive with smaller youth symphonies and have several larger youth symphonies beat on fun and social aspects. We would like to be competitive on a musical level as well. In order to reach this goal, we will continue to require our students' very best work, employ coaches to assist our students, provide a nurturing setting both musically and socially, and have fun doing it. We recognize that fact that our students are, for the most part, above average in intelligence, taking advanced classes, in school, and are involved in other activities. If they are not being challenged and having fun, there is no reason for them to choose the MVYSO as one of their activities. We incorporate social and team building activities into our programs to help students connect with each other socially as well as musically.
Remain financially viable in a challenging economy - We should have failed as an organization. We began in 2007 in a city whose school district has no string program. When the economy went south in 2008, we should have fizzled out like many other non-profits. Instead we grew! We have been able to add staff. We now employ a part time Executive Director, Part time conductor, and 7 very part time coaches. We have been creative in our fundraising and have received excellent support from our community. We have also been fortunate to receive in kind donations such as shared office space and shared equipment such as music stands with other non-profits in the Maple Valley area. We have been able to be a part of a program put together by the Maple Valley Rotary that helps fund our tuition assistance program so that families who are challenged by this economy can participate as well. We would like to continue this trend of growth.
What We Do to Achieve Our Mission
Embrace Creativity, Achieve Excellence, Nurture Talents: We provide a top notch music education program described earlier. In order to achieve excellence and nurture our students, we have hired 7 coaches to help our students during rehearsals. They rotate through so that we have 4 coaches at each rehearsal. This has improved the quality of our sound and the quality of the education experience for our students as they are getting more individualized attention in a small group setting. We have developed a program we call "musicipline" (a combination of musicianship and discipline) where we explain to the students our high expectations of their practice and rehearsal work ethic and have rewards and consequences for meeting or not meeting expectations. For instance, we are offering an invitation only Summer Stock Trimester. The performance schedule is rigorous and all of the performances are out in the community. Students who participate in summer stock must be good ambassadors for our program. If student are showing good "musicipline," they are invited to participate in Summer Stock. We have also offered our students opportunities for solos, open mic performances, etc to help them "show off" to their peers. We have encouraged them to continue music outside of orchestra and school by encouraging participation in solo & ensemble contests, pursuit of music in college, and pursuit of semi-professional performing. Some of our students have formed a string quartet on their own and they hire out to perform at weddings and other events outside of our orchestra. We could not do all of this without students. It is important to us that any willing and able student be able to join our group. We offer low cost tuition (only $125) and tuition assistance for those who cannot afford the $125. To this day, we have never turned away a willing and able student based on inability to pay tuition. We plan to never "arrive" and always continue to strive for increased excellence in our program and in our sound.
Give back to the community: It was important to us as we began the MVYSO to be involved in our community. Maple Valley is a very sports oriented community. We knew that if we were not bringing our music to the community, the community wouldn't come find us for a concert. Before we hired a conductor or began recruiting students, we worked with the Maple Valley Parks and Recreation Department to get performances at Maple Valley Tree Lighting and the the 4th of July Fireworks. Our students perform at a variety of events for charities, city functions, and events. It is important to our organization that we teach our students to be good stewards of their surroundings and their community. As a result, our students have been involved in Clean Up the Park Day picking up trash, working and wait staff at charity events, helping with Vacation Bible School at the church that loans us our rehearsal and concert space, and more.
Provide a fun and safe environment: If it's not fun, we won't have any students! We encourage our students to connect socially and do our best to provide an environment that is non judgemental where students can be themselves. As you may know, musicians are generally not the most popular or cool kids in school. When they come to MVYSO, the field is leveled, so to speak. Our students find friends with something in common - music. They all seem to enjoy and be entertained by each others quirks. They chat with each other about their challenging classes and support one another. We maintain a no electronics rule during all MVYSO events for our students. This has created an environment where our students are having face to face conversations and interactions with each other and building community within our group. Our leaders and coaches have all come from positive music experiences. There is a question on our employment application that says "Why do you want this job?" The most common answer is something to the effect of "I was involved in music programs as a youth. It shaped who I am today. I want to give back what I have gained from being involved in music as a youth. I am passionate about music and believe I can pass this on to your students." This has also been our observation from watching our leaders and coaches work with our students. It has also been confirmed by our students and parents in their annual surveys.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Our most recent success would be our Big BANG Concert held on May 7, 2011. In this concert, we pulled out all of the stops and had all of our playing groups from Beginning Strings all the way through our Symphony Orchestra play. We also had one of our original 8 students (now hired on as a coach) perform Medelssohn's Violin Concerto in E-Major with the Symphony Orchestra. We advertised in the community, through the newspapers, and the students invited friends and family members. We packed the house! We had over 400 in attendance, had to park cars down the road, and took in over $1,000 in donations. All of our concerts are for donation only. This was, by far, the best attended and highest grossing concert we have had to date. In addition to the success in numbers, our students performed wonderfully. They all came away from the concert proud of their performances and got high praise and standing ovations from their audience. This concert was our culminating concert for our season. It gave us an opportunity to show the progression from beginning an instrument through being able to solo on an instrument. Our audience enjoyed it and our younger students were inspired by it.
This concert showed off our programs and confirmed to us, our students, and our audience that what we are doing is working and successful.
Our greatest need is to have the ability to continue and grow this great work. We have safety built into our budget so that we can survive if we do not receive outside funding. For instance, our Executive Director (also the founder of the MVYSO) will work without pay. We can cut our coaching program. We raise our tuition fees. These are all things that we do not want to have to do because these are all things that have contributed to our success. Outside funding is key to our growth and our continued reach for excellence.