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Parents' Frequently-Asked Questions

Why are there two orchestras instead of one?
For some of our concert pieces all the students play together in one large orchestra, but because of our wide range of ages (8 to 18) and skill levels (2 to 14 years of study) we have found the musical and social experience for all our performers to be better if we divide into two groups. Each group plays challenging repertoire of high quality, and each group has equal time with the conductor and with the coaches. The musical difference is that the Concert Orchestra plays music that is arranged to include a wider range of instruments and skill levels. The Symphony Orchestra plays the same standard repertoire that professional orchestras perform.
Why do youth orchestras cost money?
You might wonder why we ask openly for donations far in excess of tuition. Sad to say, but most youth orchestras fold after only a few seasons. Tuition pays for a small fraction of the costs of running a youth orchestra. Basically, we assemble the equivalent of a small town of 100 or more people every Sunday for rehearsals. The organization that requires is considerable. We have a staff of professional musicians that includes an excellent coaching staff and our conductor. We depend on our staff to organize everything from auditions to rehearsals to concert venues. Things never go according to plan and our staff is great at problem solving. We have a librarian; you wouldn't believe how complicated it is to assemble and organize parts for two separate orchestras with dozens of pieces of music. But first we have to search and buy our music! We rent rehearsal space and concert halls and are required to have insurance policies to protect our lessors and our employees. We print posters and programs. We mail materials to students and parents, audiences, teachers, and schools. We pay for concert recordings. We meet continually with schools, teachers, and other organizations like the Los Angeles Philharmonic to discover and pursue the best opportunities for our students. Most of this activity and its associated expenses will remain invisible to you. But when you sit in the theater amazed at how our orchestra has improved, please know that it happens because of all the effort going on underneath. That's why we ask for your help in fundraising.
Why does the orchestra play two (or more!) performances of the same music? And the second concert is downtown and on a week night - that's so difficult for us!
Performing really focuses the attention of the performers. Just as attending all of the rehearsals is critical in building a good performance, a first performance provides an incredible springboard for the next one. We are fortunate to have our second performances at Zipper Hall at the Colburn School, a wonderful performing space. Most performers will never get the opportunity to play in a place this good, and we get to do it twice a year! Alas, it is a wonderful space that is not affordable for us on the weekend, so we take it during the week and count ourselves lucky.
What should I do if another student is bothering my child?
Kids constantly surprise us when they act like kids, and we do want to help all of our young musicians grow into responsible and considerate adults. No child here should feel that acting in a rude fashion is acceptable, or that no help is available if another child is acting inappropriately. Please let us know if there is a problem, and in a timely fashion so that we can remedy things before feelings are irrevocably hurt! The program director is the one to call for any issue like this one.
Whom should I contact about other things?
  • Bonnie is the one to contact about lost music. Find her in the theater just before rehearsals or send a message through "Contact Us".
  • Sandi is the one to contact with your marketing or publicity ideas.
  • Russell should be contacted about repertoire, seating placement, or about a decision to leave the orchestra.
  • Your child's section coach should be approached at rehearsals with technical questions specific to the music your child is playing.
  • The program director is the one to contact about anything else, in particular: if your child is sick and will miss a rehearsal, if you have questions about the time or place of a rehearsal, if you want to place an ad in the concert program or buy concert tickets, if you want to set up an audition, if you want to volunteer with the orchestra or if you want to make a donation.
How do I prepare my sheet music for practice and rehearsals?
Let's talk about sheet music. Before each semester starts, you should have received copies of the music from us - the librarian can help you with this. At rehearsals, both Russell and your coaches have things to tell you about the music (that's why we have rehearsals.) We want you to spend time writing those things (in pencil, please, so it can be changed!) onto your music, during, the rehearsal, so that you'll remember it. This makes those plastic sheet protectors, though neat and tidy and otherwise spiffy, not a good idea. Instead please punch holes in your music and put it in a binder, with the page numbers on side without the holes - this makes it so that the page turns work. Your coach will check to make sure you've got it right, and it can be fixed if necessary.
Should I have insurance for my child's instrument?
We recommend that you do so, especially for fragile instruments like the strings. We need for you to encourage your child to keep track of his instrument and to make sure that it is put somewhere outside of the line of traffic. Especially at the Colburn School there is very little room for instruments and lots of kids acting like kids (good kids, but still kids.) One source for insurance is the Musical Instrument Insurance Agency, (800) 421-1283.
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