17035465_10155166630603514_714959638_n-2Our community offers some amazing learning opportunities for young string players! One of them is the Friends of Music concert series. This organization has been bringing internationally recognized Canadian artists to Port Hope for over 40 years. They have always been very welcoming to young music students, and their parents (because how else can students get to a concert?) On Sunday, February 12, four junior students from SONG’s string program attended the concert by the Cecilia String Quartet at Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre. Pictured are Brandon, and Annabella, both of whom play violin but are also learning cello.

Attending a live performance is a very different experience from listening to recorded music, or even watching on a screen. There is something special about the energy shared between the performers and the audience in real time, uninfluenced by camera work and audio engineering. The students were all very interested in watching the many techniques displayed by this fine ensemble – including some surprisingly unusual ways of playing their instruments during a piece by a contemporary Canadian composer.

One of the special features of the Friends of Music concerts is that they always host a “meet the artists” reception after the concert. We got to meet the players and enjoy some treats. This does not happen in larger centres. It gives the students the opportunity to recognize that exceptional performers are still “real people”.

Another excellent organization for young musicians is the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra – LJYO. This group meets every Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Port Hope. Students who audition for orchestra usually have an intermediate level of ability on their instrument and are committed to further developing their skills through musical challenges. As with SONG, they are supported by adult mentors, and they learn to work as a team.

Every year, LJYO puts on a concert in February called “In the Spotlight”, featuring soloists from the orchestra. In addition, they highlight the work that is being done to prepare young string students for orchestral playing.  In the first year of SONG’s string program, a group of ten students performed Twinkle for their first time at this concert. This year, five students from SONG – including one cellist! –  participated in the reading ensemble at the LJYO concert, marking a significant step forward in their progress as string players. They also got close up seats to watch the rest of the concert! Thanks to the parents and volunteers Nicole, Rebecca, Marsden and Eitan, who supported these students in this important milestone!