Silence. The sound heard across rehearsal spaces and concert halls since March. It’s a sound that waits, wants to be filled with sweeping melodies. Lush harmonies. Scintillating flourishes. Behind those sounds, the joy of making music together. A pulsing, connective energy. And at the end of September, GTCYS launched its 49th season with in-person rehearsals, invigorating students and building connections stronger than ever.
Students may sit six feet apart, wear masks, use bell covers and bags, and be adapting to the new normal. But that doesn’t stop them from experiencing the joy of music-making. Orchestras are digging into their music with renewed energy after six months away. Students are connecting with friends and conductors. And parents recognize the importance of making music together again. “It is important to have GTCYS in [my daughters’] lives so they can continue to learn, grow, and be challenged in their instruments. Playing in a group is valued now, more than ever,” says Katie Brien, a GTCYS parent with daughters in Philharmonia West and Concert Orchestra. Read this story [link] to hear from more parents and discover how GTYCS brings joy back to families.
GTCYS serves families and meets them where they’re at, and during COVID-19 this family-first approach is more important than ever. Extensive program adaptations and innovations were required to make in-person rehearsals safe for all involved. Some adaptions include smaller orchestra cohorts, mask requirements, and an online-only option for families. Eric Luedtke, a parent of two GTCYS’ students, trusts GTCYS to handle the myriad details of the unique season. “One reason we felt safe letting our children participate is that we knew the level of attention to detail that would be taken to keep everyone as safe as possible and that the expectations and details would be clearly communicated. Whenever there have been questions or uncertainty GTCYS has readily responded to our inquiries to clarify and assure that they are doing everything possible to provide a positive environment for everyone involved,” Luedtke says.
Miranda Bryan, GTCYS Program Director, shares her insights into the innovative process of rehearsing during a pandemic. “We carefully monitored guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control, gained insight from other large high school band programs, and consulted the international aerosol study spear-headed by the National Foundations of High School associations. We also kept an ear to the ground for any new findings and recommendations from the national youth orchestra and instrumental music teaching community,” she says. “There’s a lot at stake. We want GTCYS to remain strong, relevant, nourishing, and as safe as possible to the students who make up our 10 orchestras and their families.”
To hear live music reverberate throughout rehearsal spaces is a wonderful thing. For too long, music ensembles have been unable to rehearse in person. But now, in schools, private lessons, and at GTCYS, students are sharing beauty again. GTCYS’ parent Jennifer Gravdahl captures it beautifully. “[GTCYS] is giving the kids what they need most: the ability to make music together.”
Want to join GTCYS and make music in person? GTCYS is accepting video auditions through October 23 to participate this semester. Learn more and audition today at gtcys.org/auditions.