Skip to content Skip to footer

Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra (LMYO)

LMYO Winter Concert
Sunday, December 8, 2024 | 3 PM
Howard Performing Arts Center

LMYO, an educational outreach program of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (SMSO), is designed to supplement private and public school band and orchestra programs and homeschoolers by providing a Youth Symphony experience consisting of three groups:

For middle school or younger string players, an entry level string group. Students should be able to read music and have 1+ years of experience with their instrument. Members are introduced to concepts such as balance, intonation, how to follow a conductor, and listening to your section during ensemble playing. 

REHEARSALS: Monday evenings 6:00PM-7:30PM. 

For advanced middle school players. 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. 

REHEARSALS: Monday evenings 6:00PM – 7:30PM.

Comprised of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, the ensemble performs an advanced repertoire of symphonic music. It is aimed at musicians at the high school and college level, with at least 3 years of experience with their instrument. 

REHEARSALS: Monday evenings 6:00PM – 8:30PM.

Audition information

All LMYO auditions are held at the beginning of each season in September and February. Auditions are required of all NEW members or any students desiring to join a new group, and may be completed in-person or by submitting a video online. All audition candidates (in-person or via video) are required to register. After registering, in-person candidates can call the SMSO Office at 269-982-4030 to schedule a time-slot on the audition date posted below.

Fall 2024 Audition Details: 
In-Person Audition Date / Video Submissions Due:
September 2024 – date TBD
6:00PM – 9:00PM 
Upton Middle School 
First Rehearsal: TBD October 2024
Winter Concert: Sun. Dec 8 @ 3 PM | HPAC Andrews

Auditions last approximately 10 minutes and are performed without accompaniment. Instrument-specific requirements are available by clicking the link above.  Questions about auditions can be emailed anytime to

String, Wind, and Brass – Auditions include scale requirements as assigned for a student’s specific instrument and a short solo work of 3-6 minutes, no accompaniment needed. 

Percussion – Students will need to identify all percussion instruments they play and prepare a short solo or excerpt on each instrument they wish to audition. Prepare to play a short piece on a snare drum. 

An Education for Life

Benefits of the LMYO program are numerous and long-lasting:

The Youth Symphony rehearses Monday evenings from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Members perform three or four concerts each year. The Encore Strings, Concert Strings and LMYO Winds rehearse Monday evenings from 6:00 PM to 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.

LMYO 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. Students receive instruction on the piece throughout the year, are coached by members of the SMSO, and rehearse two times with the SMSO’s Music Director. This unique collaboration has produced many thrilling and memorable performances and affords Youth Symphony students the opportunity to experience performing in a professional concert situation.
Each spring, up to $3,000 in scholarships are awarded to outstanding LMYO students. Awarded funds are meant to cover or offset registration fees for attendance at summer music camps and/or seminars. Scholarships are awarded in three categories: elementary, middle school, and high school. This scholarship program is funded primarily through an established endowment program supported by contributions made by individuals and business organizations. If interested in supporting this program, please call the SMSO office at 269-982-4030.
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 offered complimentary passes to SMSO concerts and 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.