Playing their way to success

Oklahoma Youth Orchestra was named the best non-profit of 2019 with nearly 400 musicians   in their program.

Oklahoma Youth Orchestra was named the best non-profit of 2019 with nearly 400 musicians in their program.

Lauren Crouch, Memorial Staff Writer

Putting in the hard work outside of school is sometimes necessary to gain success, such can be said for senior Marin Rhodes and freshman Everett Shinn, who are a part of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra (OYO). 

“I was very excited when I heard I made it into OYO and was second horn,” Rhodes said. “I had practiced and prepared for a while, so it was very rewarding.”

School orchestra is more limited with song choice and playing with many different levels of talent. OYO is a nonprofit group aimed at giving mostly advanced high school students both a musical challenge and experience playing in a professional orchestral setting.

To be accepted in the prestigious orchestra, they must tryout during the spring with any song of their choice in front of a recording device that the judges will review after the audition. Then, from that audition, it is determined what orchestra level they are placed in as a way to challenge, but not overwhelm the student. Musicians can join the orchestra beginning in third grade and play until their senior year in high school. 

Rhodes has been in youth orchestras all over the country, but when she moved to Oklahoma, she immediately began to search for an orchestra. She previously played in orchestras in Phoenix and Omaha, beginning in the eighth grade. 

“It’s truly a fantastic pursuit for anyone who wants a challenge, experience and achievement, or orchestra students who aren’t satisfied by what school programs alone provide,” Shinn said. “Nothing has pushed me to grow as a musician more than OYO.”

Shinn is newer to the youth orchestra. He began playing the tuba in seventh grade, but still has the same determination as Rhodes to make the top orchestra. Shinn felt the nerves, knowing that he was competing against high schoolers that have a lot more experience than he did for the spot. 

Being a part of this organization has taken Everett’s abilities on the tuba to the top level,” Shinn’s mother Lisa Shinn said. “Any time there is an opportunity to witness a young person doing what they love is inspiring, no matter what it is.

They practice once a week on Monday for two hours to help them prepare for their big recital. In June, they will be traveling to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall and participate in clinics and rehearsals. Both hope that they will continue to play after high school and stay involved with the orchestra.  

Contact Lauren Crouch at [email protected]