In the News
Tulsa People: http://www.tulsapeople.com/Tulsa-People/February-2012/Strings-attached/
Value News: http://www.valuenews.com/issues/story.php?view=2241
Tulsa World: Music Lessons by: JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer Monday, May 09, 2011
As always, it started with an A. After the students removed their violins from the cases and tuned them a few minutes, pianist Brandy Gordon played an A note. Soon, each of the students glided their bows across strings and matched it. They sat in a semicircle in the front room of Amy Ting-leaf's Owasso house, where her 9-year-old daughter, Piper, practiced violin with several other local students. Together, they form the Owasso Youth Orchestra, which was formed a few months ago to provide students the chance to enjoy music in an orchestra setting.
It's also the opportunity to build a foundation in music, for the students personally and for the community, explained the orchestra's conductor, Melody Garrett, quoting its mission statement. A violin instructor, she has performed with both the Signature Symphony here and Fort Smith Symphony in Arkansas. "How fast do you think we can take it?" Garrett asked her students while they practiced their first song, "Puppet Music."
Numbering eight so far, the students range in age from 9 to 16. The idea for the orchestra came from 16- year-old Ella Gordon, Brandy Gordon's daughter, who had been involved with a small Tulsa group and missed the dynamic of playing with others. On a contest trip to Union High School, Ella Gordon admired the school's facilities and told her mom she wished her school in Owasso had an orchestra. Currently, it doesn't. "She then began dreaming out loud about one day becoming an orchestra teacher and conductor for kids right here in Owasso," said Brandy Gordon, who loved her daughter's idea and wanted to make it a reality. "If we're going to follow a dream, we need to do it now," she said.
The Gordons started by contacting Garrett, who also wanted to see an orchestra in town, in February. Brandy Gordon had already purchased a short piece by Mozart and suggested they start there. "I didn't know too much at first about Ella's desire for conducting," Garrett said, "but now I'm getting to know her intentions for her future and maybe the future of Owasso."
The orchestra meets at either the Tingleaf house or at Rejoice Church in Owasso. Dalyssa Lynch, 11, was at practice the day we visited. "Piano was too hard," she said with a slight smile. Now, she's been playing violin for two years.
"It was kind of boring by myself," said Lynch, who has friends to play with now. Their next songs to practice were "Long, Long Ago" and "Happy Blues," which seemed to be the most fun - and most challenging - to play. "Is it appropriate to clap?" one of the mothers asked before everyone chuckled. Standing with her was Rebecca Carter, Mom to Luke, a budding thespian who wore his "Music Man" T-shirt to practice."It's very rewarding," said Luke Carter, who's been playing about two years. He also plays the mandolin. "It's his gift," Rebecca Carter said, recounting times he has played for family and friends. They'll practice at a park, and people will come up to him and listen. "How many people get to hear a live violin?"
The group meets twice a month for an hour each time. "Involving the children was really important to us as they were the charter members," Garrett said. "They even had a part in naming our group."
And the group wants to become nonprofit, Garrett said, working with theater groups and local choirs."We've been approached by more than enough parents who are interested in some day giving the students an opportunity to offer orchestra as a part of the public-school education," Garrett said. "We hope that might be a possibility of the future."
They are looking for students - not just in Owasso but in surrounding communities - who are interested in being a part of the group, she said. They need to be able to read music on a beginning to intermediate level and sit through an hour's rehearsal. It's preferable that they have a private teacher so students can receive further instruction to develop their playing skills. It's very important to offer a youth orchestra, not only to the students but the community, Garrett said, adding they are cultivating students to take part in the Tulsa Youth Symphony on a more advanced level. "Imagine sitting in an orchestra as young as age 9," she said. "We'll help develop skills of musicality and discipline in our students' lives that they will never forget and can be transferred into their adult lives."
The charter members of the orchestra, whose ages range from 9 to 16, include Tyler Bennett, Luke Carter, Jaya Chakka, Ella Gordon, Emma Griffin, Dalyssa Lynch, Lauren Taylor and Piper Tingleaf.
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483