Thoughts From The Road
Last month PIMF visited youth orchestras in Phoenix, Arizona to personally thank musicians and their teachers, directors, and supporters for all they do for music and for their communities. Stops on our year-long 20th Anniversary tour have also included Chicago Youth Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, Temple Prep, Sacramento Youth Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, among others.
And it got us to thinking – what an incredible commitment these kids make. An orchestra student spends at least as much time in practice, rehearsals, and performance as the most accomplished student-athletes! And what a smart choice they’ve made to pursue music, which comes with so many life-long benefits. Here are 6 (or 12, or 16, depending on how you count) of our favorites:
Auditioning requires methodical preparation, and conscious practice and performance strategy – skills that will get you through the challenges of college, career, and any other endeavor in life.
Often we hear from career experts that no matter how competent you are in your job, it’s soft skills that really lead to success. Participating in youth orchestras teaches soft skills in spades: perseverance, confidence, self-discipline, time management, and organization skills, responsibility, concentration and focus, cultural appreciation… the list goes on.
Carrying the torch for classical music
About 75 percent of the members of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, for example, go on to study music in college, as either a major or minor (no pun intended!). Which means that today’s youth orchestra members are tomorrow’s professional musicians, continuing and promoting this magnificent art form.
Teamwork and social skills
Orchestra musicians become highly skilled, exceptional listeners, observers, and team players. They breathe together, move together, and work together, understanding that every single part is there for a reason, and that theirs is no more or less important than any other. That’s not just a way of being that sets musicians apart; it’s also the basis for friendships that last for years.
Independence You might think of independence as the other side of the coin from teamwork: Youth orchestra musicians prepare their parts on their own, both for the pride of achievement and out of a sense of responsibility, as an individual contributing to a greater whole.
Self-expression and stress relief
In our stress-filled world, every human needs a healthy way to relieve tension and express themselves safely. Music has documented physical and mental health benefits that, when practiced regularly, can lead to lower blood pressure, healthy coping strategies, and less stress.
Contribution to society
In addition to the personal meaning young musicians experience playing in an orchestra, they have the added reward of helping others to experience beauty, meaning, and the full range of emotion found in music. To those of us who love to listen, that may be the greatest gift of all.
“These young musicians are simply incredible,” Sandy Marcucci, President & CEO of PIMF, said. “They work so hard, and their love and enthusiasm for what they do is infectious. I am very much looking forward to seeing them this summer and in the seasons to come – not only as PIMF students but as they progress in their careers.”
To all the talented youth orchestra musicians and the teachers, parents, staff, and others who support them – THANK YOU!!
What are some other benefits you’ve found in playing with your youth orchestra? Leave your ideas in the comments!