Expanding outward and returning to one’s roots might seem like contradictory ideas, but in the case of the YONA-Sistema’s latest growth spurt, as we begin its seventh year, both are accurate.
Beginning Monday, September 9, the newest expansion of the program has brought it back to Saint Teresa of Calcutta School – the location of the original pilot program for YONA-Sistema.
“It’s like a musical program where you, like, learn instruments,” sums up grade three student Gloria, who at the time of our chat, had had about an hour of YONA experience to take it all in. But she adds she’s looking forward to it, “because it kinda looks fun and I want to be, like, talented.”
For the first time, YONA-Sistema is intaking students from grade one, in addition to the usual grades two and three. 30 St. Teresa students are participating.
“We have limited space where we are now at St. Alphonsus School, and we want to start taking in more students and growing the program, so that our senior orchestra can grow down the line, so that our intermediate orchestra can grow down the line, and in order to grow those orchestras, we need more students,” says St. Teresa site manager Kristin. “So we’re here to open a feeder site, that’s going to get more students enrolled and excited, all the way through the YONA program.”
Excitement seemed to pretty accurately reflect the couple dozen young people gathered in the gym to accompany vocal teaching artist Miss Vicky’s rather silly song about skiing, and in short order, these students will be getting their cardboard instruments - violas and cellos this year - ready for the first time.
“We haven’t had any viola and cello intake in a little while,” Miss Kristin explains. “Up until now, we’ve been alternating intake years, so last year we took in new trumpet, violin, and bass students.”
Grade two student Roywyatt says that while he’s heard an orchestra before, he’s not sure yet which instrument will be his. But he’s sure of one thing. “YONA is a music program after school, then we get picked up at 6 o’clock.”
Both Roywyatt and Gloria are looking forward to what YONA has in store for them, and the YONA program will hopefully see long-term benefit as more students are able to join via feeder sites before graduating to the full YONA-Sistema orchestra.
post and photos by D. T. Baker