A love for music can start at a very early age. Babies begin to dance from the time they learn to stand. Music is universal and a necessity in the human experience. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (FSO) knows this. As an organization the members strive not only to entertain with their artistic excellence, but also to educate the community. Another focus of the orchestra is on the youth of the community, and thanks to support from the Community Grant program of the Cumberland County Foundation they can expand their work in several ways, including the creation of a Youth Music Institute.
Many musicians start young and having a great teacher early can inspire a life long passion. For years the FSO has worked with high school students in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County area. “We send a string quartet into the high school orchestra program and then follow up with visits by a violinist and a cellist. The students learn about performing in small ensembles and also learn performance techniques,” said Christine Kastner the President and CEO of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. Previously it was mostly limited to musicians from the FSO mentoring budding musicians at certain high schools. Now this program will be expanded to all public high schools in Cumberland County. Students all over the county will now have the opportunity to be inspired and guided by passionate and creative musicians who are widely recognized for their excellence.
As part of the expansion there will also be increased educational opportunities for young musicians that are not affiliated with schools. Rather than spending the summer in front of the T.V. or computer young musicians can learn and grow with skilled masters of their instrument. FSO is offering summer camps in strings and brass instruments that are open to all students in the region. “Our camps are taught by professional musicians with advanced degrees in music performance so they will focus on techniques which will improve the students performance levels. Also we focus on small student teacher ratios so the students receive very individualized instruction. Our string camp has no more than 4 students (a quartet) per instructor,” says Kastner. Additionally these programs are the first Summer Camps in this region to provide such advanced musical education.
During the year there will also be a strings mentoring program and youth orchestra. Music should be part of every day life, and while high school band and orchestra are invaluable they alone may not provide enough musical stimulation for young blossoming musicians. Additionally, according to Kastner there are also studies to support that a “deep arts involvement” fosters rain development and increases the chanced of students graduating high school and attending college. All of these expansions are under the umbrella of the newly created Youth Music Institute. This arm of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will be housed at Fayetteville Academy and will be lead by a newly hired Music Director. Beth Keeny, a Board Member and Chair of CCF’s Community Impact Committee expresses her excitement and support for the expansion by saying,” The Cumberland Community Foundation is proud to support the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s endeavors to start a youth orchestra. When the arts thrive, communities thrive, and the opportunity for young musicians to play alongside, and receive mentorship from, professional musicians allows the entire arts community to grow.”
Photo: The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra reaches out to local youth.