It’s been said that if you can successfully conduct a youth orchestra, you can conduct anything! While there’s no question it’s a challenge, it’s a very rewarding endeavor. My job is to develop, nurture and train young talented musicians in a high quality orchestral program.
Through the Chicago Orchestral music Academy, I have the potential to take a student musician from as young as junior high straight through graduate school. Nothing is more gratifying to me than to watch one of my students steadily progress through the years and then go on to a successful career. It takes years of hard work and drive (on both of our parts) to make that goal a reality. To be a part of that process is an honor.
Conducting a youth orchestra takes clear communication and patience with your young musicians. It requires taking a major piece of literature and breaking it down note for note. There’s so much more to music than playing the notes. That’s the easy part. The difficult part is making the piece come alive and take on a life of its own. You have to work out the dynamics, the rhythms and try to tap into the heart of the composer to understand what the music is trying to say. All this, and at the same time, make it fun! From the first note to the last, it is my job to keep everyone going in the same direction and focused on the job at hand.
The vast majority of students who come through Chicago Orchestral Academy's Protégé and Classical are serious musicians, and it’s my job to make sure they stay on the right path. The components that make up a successful musician are many, but first and foremost they have to want it--more than anything else in the world. Without that desire, they are faced with a long road to hoe. Being a musician is not for the faint of the heart. And, as in all walks of life, the right attitude will highlight the successful musician every time. You see it all the time in sports--music is no different. No one wants to work with a musician who has a bad attitude, no matter how good they are. It will drag the “team” down like a plague, and it is never worth it.
I am very proud of all my musicians, they are more to me than just an instrument, and I make every effort to get to know them throughout the season. Judging from the enthusiastic audience response at our concerts, I guess I must also be doing a pretty good job of bringing our concerts in at a level both the orchestra members and the audience enjoy.