Musicians participate in groups outside of school

November 10, 2014 — by Eric Sze

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and in a music hall, freshman Michelle Lee has her flute to her lips.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and in a music hall, freshman Michelle Lee has her flute to her lips performing a Beethoven symphony with about 50 other musicians. While one would think she would be playing in the school’s band, she is actually playing flute for the Wind Ensemble 2 in California Youth Symphony.

Lee is one of the many of students who decided to participate in out-of-school symphonies or music groups, because of schedule conflicts and their desires to perform at a higher level.

Lee said she chose not to do band because she “wanted to experiment with other electives before placing a lot of commitment toward band.”

Most students in symphonies believe they are beneficial because they introduce new styles and music levels to musicians.

Lee said the higher levels of difficulty allowed her to “get a wider scope of music.”

Other students enjoy the experience of participating in groups outside of school, but also remain in band. Sophomore clarinetist Bryan Wong participates in both the wind section of the Philharmonic Orchestra in San Jose Youth Symphony and the band program.

“Marching band is an opportunity to bond and march together with a close-knit group of friends,” Wong said. “The symphony is a more refined musical experience, and places a much greater focus on playing skill.”

Wong also has taken part in one of the school’s orchestra groups, the Saratoga Philharmonic Orchestra, though the  music was “relatively easy,” according to Wong.

Others prefer symphonies outside of school because they are usually composed of musicians who share comparable skill levels. Freshman Charin Park, who plays flute in the Wind Ensemble 2 in California Youth Symphony, said she “chose to be in a symphony because [she] could practice with a group of people who are roughly at the same skill level as [her].”

Despite these benefits, most say the biggest drawback is the time commitment required for off-campus orchestras. Depending on different symphonies, practice times range from three to four hours a week. Additionally, students may have to travel long distances to San Jose or even San Francisco.

Wong added that other events, such as SATs or sports, can conflict with the symphony’s rehearsal practices and concerts.

Even with the drawbacks of groups like symphonies, most students claim that the overall experience of the symphony is rewarding.

“Overall, I think participating in a symphony has been a great experience and I will definitely continue on with it,” Wong said.

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