It can help with discipline, responsibility, social skills, and even math.
Playing a musical instrument and participating in a band like the Citrus Youth Educational Symphonic Orchestra also teaches perseverance and dedication, says Andrea McCray, director of donor relations for the symphony orchestra.
“The gift of music is for life,” says the group’s executive director, Martin Hoffman, who also serves as pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Lecanto.
Founded in 2011 when Homosassa resident Harold Seckinger formed a nonprofit group to help bring classical music and string instrument training to Citrus County, the orchestra is recovering today of a shutdown due to COVID-19.
To this end, the orchestra is sponsoring an open house/information session for prospective students and their parents on January 19, 2021, from 4:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1100 W. Highland Ave. , in Inverness.
Bandleader Stephen Lane said the band performed their most ambitious concert yet in March 2020, just before they were forced to close due to the pandemic. Musical instrument lessons resumed in September, but only for returning students.
January will be the first time in a long time that the orchestra will accept new students, according to McCray, Hoffman and Lane. By the way, Lane is also a pastor and president of the Faith Lutheran Church of Lecanto.
The orchestra offers beginner and intermediate classes at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays at Cornerstone Baptist Church. If the students can’t read music or play an instrument, they take up the recorder. After progressing, they can choose an instrument.
Currently, instruction is available on violin, viola, cello, French horn, trumpet, clarinet and flute. Students are taught in small groups of similar instruments. The goal is for everyone to become proficient enough to play together in the orchestra class.
The cost is $250 per year for a family with several young musicians, plus $50 per student. Financial assistance is available. Students aged 5 to 19 are accepted. Students do not need to be residents of Citrus County, and they can come from public or private schools or can be homeschooled.
The orchestra provides students with instruments, music stands and a sheet music book.
The students play classical music, but also leaned into pop tunes such as an arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” bandleader Lane said. Trained as a cellist before entering seminary, Lane also teaches cello and arranges music for the band.
He said he became interested in the orchestra because there is no string instruction in schools, “and I saw the need for it”.
McCray said her son, Mason Holly, 14, who has been playing the piano since he was 3, wanted to play the violin in an orchestra, “but it’s not taught in school, so he learned the flute in sixth grade”.
When Mason joined the orchestra, his sister, 10-year-old Teegan McCray, chose to play trumpet, McCray said.
In September, when the students returned to the orchestra after the COVID shutdown, it was a bit difficult, Lane said. Some former students did not return.
“Some had practiced faithfully and some had not,” he said. “We’re using this semester to regroup and bring them up to speed… It’s a reboot,” he said.
On a recent Tuesday, parents and grandparents waited in a main room as groups of students went with instructors to practice rooms to work on their fingerings, embouchures and sight-reading. The students seemed happy, the instructors seemed engaged, and the parents seemed grateful. Social distancing and mask wearing were practiced as much as possible.
Nancy Linley-Harris’ daughter, Mariah, is learning the violin, and Linley-Harris said she (Linley-Harris) finds the “perfect” symphony.
Linley-Harris said, “With music his ability to calculate math is better. It teaches responsibility. She is learning to read music.
Sonny Walls, who provides security for the orchestra, said for his granddaughter, Alyssa Bruce, 9, playing the violin as part of the orchestra is pretty much “the only thing holding her back. Warning”. Now that she has a violin, “she cuts to the chase,” Walls said.
As a non-profit organization, the orchestra receives grants from Duke Energy and the Black Diamond Foundation, and sponsors include Suncoast Credit Union, the Inverness Elks and King’s Bay Rotary.
The orchestra accepts instrument donations. It would also welcome more board members, volunteers and someone to maintain the website, donor relations director McCray said. Like McCray, executive director Hoffman and bandleader Lane are parents of student musicians.
All positions are voluntary, with the exception of teachers, who receive a small salary. And the group, of course, welcomes financial donations.
The group’s website is: www.cyeso.org. He also has a Facebook page.
For more information on the January 19, 2020 Open House/Information Session, to volunteer, or for any other information, call the group at 352-794-1540 or email them at yes2cyeso@gmail. com.