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Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra

The Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra is one of several educational programs of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The Youth Orchestra provides an orchestral experience for talented young musicians in southwest Michigan. This outstanding musical experience is open to students from elementary school to high school senior.

Under the direction of their respective Conductors, all four ensembles rehearse on Monday evenings during the fall and spring of each school year. 

The Youth Symphony is the most advanced ensemble of the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra. Comprised of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, it allows the ensemble to perform a wider and more advanced repertoire of symphonic music. It is aimed at musicians at the high school or higher level, with at least.
The Encore Strings is the intermediate level ensemble of LMYO. It offers strings only musical repertoire for players with two to three years of instrument experience. Students should have knowledge of shifting positions (3rd for violin and viola, 2nd for cello) and more advanced bowing styles such as spiccato and lourẻ.
The Concert Strings ensemble is an entry level string group for the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra. Players should be able to read music and have at least one year of instrument experience. Members are introduced to concepts such as balance, intonation, how to follow a conductor, and listening to your section during ensemble playing.
LMYO Winds offers instruction and rehearsal in advanced middle level wind repertoire, small group coaching and instrument-specific master class sessions, and supplemental performance opportunities for middle school wind players and percussionists. The ensemble is open to woodwind, brass, and percussion students with at least one year of experience on their instrument.

An Education for Life

The Youth Symphony rehearses Monday afternoons for two 1/2 hours from 6:00 until 8:30 pm. Members perform three or four concerts each year. The Encore Strings, Concert Strings and LMYO Winds rehearse Monday afternoons for one and a half hours from 6:00 until 7:30 pm. Members perform a concert at the end of each term. All rehearsals take place at Upton Middle School, 800 Maiden Lane, St. Joseph, MI, 49085.
The Lake Michigan Youth Symphony and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (SMSO) combine efforts annually for this excellent educational opportunity. Students sit next to professional musicians for the performance of a major piece of music at one of the regular classical concerts of the SMSO. The students receive instruction on the piece throughout the year, are coached by members of the SMSO, and rehearse two times with the conductor of the SMSO. This unique collaboration has produced many thrilling and memorable performances and affords the Youth Symphony students the opportunity to experience performing in a professional concert situation.
Each spring nearly $3,000 in scholarships are awarded to outstanding LMYO students for attendance at summer music camps and/or seminars. Scholarships are awarded in three categories: elementary camp, middle school level camp, and high school level camps. This very active and supportive scholarship program is funded primarily through private donations from individuals and businesses. An endowment program has recently been established to ensure continued growth in this important program. If interested in supporting this program, call the SMSO office at 982-4030.
The LMYO engages professional musicians and music educators to work with the individual sections of all four ensembles several times a year. Students gain valuable technical and musical information from these sectionals and learn about music as a profession.
Membership in the LMYO promotes personal growth through the discipline of individual and group practice and the participation in group activities with a common goal.

LMYO students are inspired toward a lifelong involvement with music whether as professional performers, music educators, or members in their college and/or community music programs.

The understanding and appreciation of classical music encouraged by LMYO participation provides informed audiences for the future. All students are given “free” passes to SMSO concerts and are encouraged to attend.
The LMYO encourages appreciation and support of fine music in the community by providing concerts which are convenient to such groups as the very young, senior citizens, and those who are unable to afford the expense of professional performances.
The LMYO enhances existing southwest Michigan school music programs and provides orchestral opportunities for those students who do not have a school music program.

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