The Value of Membership in Youth Orchestras and Other Ensembles

George Cleland

I hope that this is a timely notice for all of the current and potential members of youth orchestras and other educational ensembles that exist in our communities. Being a member of an ensemble like this is both an honour and a great opportunity. Students learn many valuable insights and benefits from being a part of such an ensemble. These values and insights can also be developed in pursuits outside of music and the arts.

Students learn the value of their hard earned private development and that it actually connects to music that they learn in an ensemble. It is a benefit to discover how so many of the fundamental music tools that students are taught in their private lessons go straight into playing music together. It also confirms for the students how the various coaches and conductors that they meet use the same fundamentals to develop an ensemble.

They learn the value of teamwork and they get to have new and great friendships. Teamwork is something to be valued and treasured. I often tell my students that the most compelling and meaningful friendships that they have are created in the arts environment or the sports environment. They learn that they have colleagues that share a purpose and a commitment. 

Students learn the value of the shared responsibility of working together on a common goal. They can learn to foster talent and support each other’s growth.

Students learn to support each other, both from their more experienced and less experienced colleagues. This sense of community is a resource that can be continually appreciated.

I know that some of the most positive and affirming influences that I have had have come from my experiences in youth orchestras. I will never forget how a great youth orchestra performance, or even a rehearsal, made me feel. So inspiring! I truly hope that all of our students may be able to benefit from such an environment. 

In the light of what is happening in Kitchener Waterloo, all of this becomes much more important. I truly hope that the Kitchener Waterloo Youth Orchestra is able to continue. I am sure that all of us in the Suzuki Association of Ontario family share in the desire that the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony and its Youth Orchestra and Bridge programs can be saved.