Creating opportunity with Warren County Youth Orchestra

Times Observer photo by Stacey Gross Joe Glarner sits in one of the rooms of Warren’s own version of the School of Rock.

It’s about creating opportunities for passionate students of music.

Joe Glarner, one of the administrators at the Warren Music Conservatory, said that the conservatory’s newest effort to engage students and engender a love of musical instruction is one that will be open to all county students.

The Warren County Youth Orchestra, said Glarner, is one of the most unique offerings the conservatory has offered to date. As such, he said, it has taken on a life – and a social media presence – of its own.

Unlike other classes at the conservatory, the youth orchestra will not follow a cohort structure. The goal instead, said Glarner, is to keep students involved throughout their high school (and in some cases late middle school) careers.

Under the direction of Warren Area High School and Beaty Warren Middle School band leader Marcia White, the youth orchestra represents an opportunity for the most passionate music students in the county to have the experience of longitudinal orchestra involvement.

Times Observer photo by Stacey Gross The Music Conservatory offers space for music lessons to children and adults.

The orchestra is open to students in grades 9 through 12, but Glarner was quick to add that students in seventh and eighth grades are welcome to try out. While a referral from a music teacher in the case of younger students would be beneficial, Glarner said, “we’re not going to turn people away” who want to audition.

The competitive orchestra will be open to around 30 or 40 students, Glarner expects, though again, he’s not looking to turn away a passionate student because of strict limits and definitions.

“It’s all new to this area,” said Glarner. The program is expected to go through a period of adaptation — discovering the needs of the community, the students who will participate and rise to meet them. Still, Glarner said he does have an idea of what he’d like to see youth orchestra students doing. There is also the chance for the youth orchestra to ease the task of finding kids to participate in the bi-annual All County Musical.

“We’d love to see these kids playing at the Fourth of July, Music in the Park,” or basically any event in search of great music by local people. And while it may be new to the Warren area, said Glarner, both Chautauqua and Erie have their own youth orchestras, so the model itself is not new.

Basically, said Glarner, “music students in Warren County need more opportunities” to grow in their musical chops. That kind of growth can’t often occur in a quick period crammed into a typical school day. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow “and to play with other very talented kids in the county.”

While getting a spot in the county’s youth orchestra will be a competitive process – meaning tryouts – Glarner said it’s not something that should deter a less skilled but passionate music student.

“If they’re determined to be here they’ll be here,” said Glarner. The competitiveness of the selection process, he said, ensures that everyone is passionate and that those at lower skill levels are able to grow through observation of, mentorship by, and inclusion with older, more musically developed students.

In addition, said Glarner, adults will be joining in each section of the orchestra to act as official mentors.

Part of what will make the youth orchestra different from district-sponsored band programs is the ability to be more flexible with both selection of musical numbers and licensing of pieces.

A county-wide youth orchestra, represents “a big opportunity for the kids in the county,” Glarner said.

The Music Conservatory is excited to be bringing it to light. It will hopefully become a year-round hub for music students throughout the county to remain connected at all times, and focused on a common goal of growth and performance.

Registration for the Warren County Youth Orchestra opens on Oct. 3 from 6:15 to 7 p.m. The cost is $25 per month, and scholarships are available.

For more information on the Warren Music Conservatory, or the Warren County Youth Orchestra, Glarner said the fastest way is to find them on Facebook, or to stop in to the conservatory during administrative hours, which are from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Conservatory is located at 220 Pennsylvania Ave. W. in downtown Warren.