What is the concept behind NYLSO?
Most amateur orchestras in the US are designed to be pre-professional or youth orchestras. Why should kids have all the fun? The underlying idea is to encourage and enable adults to play together, so they can improve and enjoy the experience. NYLSO was formed to bring the thrill associated with being able to take part in a substantially-sized orchestra playing ”real” pieces to a broader segment of the music-loving community. We don’t mind if you sometimes hit the wrong notes. Whatever your level, bring your instrument and come join the fun.

Who runs the group?
NYLSO is a member-driven group, with 2 main organizers. We are always looking for volunteers. We are not affiliated with any school or organization and we receive no funding from anyone.

Our professional tutor/facilitator serves as coach and conductor, giving guidance to accommodate everyone’s level of play. She has extensive experience in one-on-one teaching and in leading ensembles, and provides us with thoughtful, tolerant, and inspirational leadership. Occasional substitute conductors join in to teach sectionals or workshops, providing players with valuable experience in working with different approaches and styles.

I’ve never played with a group before. How is it different from playing alone?
Playing with a group is exhilarating and challenging! Even when the music is relatively simple, playing in an ensemble adds the elements of keeping time strictly, paying attention to the conductor, and careful listening to the other parts to produce music that sounds integrated and beautiful. You will find that you develop your listening and sight-reading skills to a great degree by participating in an ensemble.

Am I experienced enough?
Yes. We are a teaching orchestra; we welcome anyone who genuinely loves music and wants to experience the fun of group play! Although it does help if you already have at least basic sight-reading skills and some level of familiarity with your instrument (we recommend a minimum of 1 year’s worth of lessons), it is more important that you possess a healthy sense of humor and a fair amount of patience.

True beginners are encouraged to play to their fullest potential, whatever that may be, but please recognize that while we do have a tutor/conductor, her role is not to provide one-on-one instruction during rehearsals. The conductor’s purpose is to help guide the group as a whole, and, of course, to troubleshoot problem spots. Some individual attention will be necessary at times, but the emphasis is on improving the group's overall sound and ensuring a nice flow during rehearsals. It is not fair to the group if the time becomes a surrogate for individual lessons for only a few participants.

Am I too advanced?
If you have ever been paid to play your instrument, recently graduated with a degree in performance, or have been playing continuously since elementary school, we are probably not the group for you.

We do work on some challenging and complex pieces, scored appropriately to the different levels, and we make every effort to keep more advanced players engaged and excited.

Because we do not audition, our ensemble consists of a range of technical abilities and notational literacy. Sometimes this requires tolerance, flexibility, and the use of techniques that accommodate all players. We aim to create a safe and welcoming environment for adults coming late or recently returning to music. We are always accepting new members; some are seasoned, experienced players who want to enjoy their music in new company and others are new to music playing and have never played in an orchestra before.

We count on our advanced players to not only take on the more challenging parts of the music but also to provide inspiration to the group at large. In bringing everyone together, members are placed in the position of being both mentor and mentee, an arrangement that fosters growth and enjoyment at any level.

Players with an impatient or overly competitive nature need not apply.

What should I bring?
Your instrument, of course, and a portable music stand are essential. You should also have a folder or envelope to keep your music together and a pencil with an eraser to mark your music.
Sheet music is provided.

Where and when do you rehearse?
Rehearsal sessions are held in 6-week cycles. We meet once a week, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, on Sunday afternoons in Manhattan. Locations are chosen to be conveniently accessible via public transportation. We are currently meeting in a rehearsal studio near Penn Station. Please email us for the exact location.

What kind of music do you play?
NYLSO’s primary focus is on classical music. To date we have played pieces by Elgar, Grieg, Haydn, Corelli, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach, and other well-known composers. The interests of participants may help to guide future musical choices.

Repertoire is carefully chosen to suit the abilities of the group. Most rehearsals are in full orchestra, with occasional sectional rehearsals to ensure the development of the pieces and to work on troublesome areas. Scoring ranges from simplified through more advanced parts, so that players can join in even at an early stage of study and accomplishment. The emphasis is on providing a constructive, enjoyable, stress-free experience.

Member input on music selection is always welcomed.

Do you perform?
Yes. We aim to have an informal concert at least twice a year. Supportive family and friends are encouraged to attend.

How much will I need to practice during the week?
It goes without saying that the more you practice, the better you (and therefore we) sound, but this group is meant to be recreational. It is not meant to create more stress than you already have. While we do aim to improve over the course of the term, the goal is not necessarily total mastery of a particular piece. The idea of our group is to come as you are and have a good time. Play the parts or measures that you can, listen to the parts you cannot, and strive to contribute to the best of your ability.

Do I have to come for all 6 weeks?
We understand that life can get a bit hectic. Conflicts will inevitably arise for us all. The purpose of our group is to bring joy and camaraderie to our fellow music-loving members, not to cause undue pressure and stress. That said, however, because we are working toward a performance, we do expect a certain level of commitment. Absences affect everyone in the group. Barring the occasional unavoidable conflict or emergency, members should attend most of the 6 meetings plus the final concert. It is amazing how much the group can progress in a short time. The results are truly exciting!

What does it cost?
NYLSO is a self-supporting collective; we do not receive any other funding. The cost is $80 for each 6-week cycle. Players who want to try us out can pay a single-session drop-in fee of $18, which can be credited toward the full fee if you decide to join the group at the end of that day’s rehearsal. All payment must be made in cash. Payments are applied to the costs of rehearsal space, conductor’s fees, and photocopying music.

Can I bring a friend?
Yes. We absolutely welcome drop-ins to come and play with us. The fee is $18 for those who wish to join us for an afternoon. Please do not bring teachers or other non-playing observers to rehearsal.

How can I join?
Easily. Send us an e-mail nylsoinfo@gmail.com and let us know your approximate level and the date you plan to come. We will e-mail you back with directions on how to find us.