At BYO, we are all parents running the show – 100% of our Board Members are parents of young musicians.
I started 5 years ago when I moved to the Bay Area, but in truth the seed of BYO was planted when my kids were really young: my wife and I decided my two girls had to learn one language, practice one sport and learn one musical instrument, to round up their education. They could choose which language, which instrument and which sport, but not choosing one was not an option.
They both picked French, so they could talk to each other and leave us out hanging; on the rest, they all chose different things, different sports, and on the instrument side, my older daughter chose viola and my younger one the violin.
Why these choices specifically? Sport is easy to understand, because we as human beings need to take care of our health as a whole, physical, mental and emotional; learning a different language and learning to play an instrument, though, gives our kids an edge in the competitive world we live today. There are several studies out there explaining the great impact learning an instrument can have on a young brain. The world can take everything away from our children, but one thing no one can take away is a great education. And that is what we all BYO parents have in common: we want to give our kids the best education we can!
5 years ago, when we landed here, we knew no local music teacher, so we started our research online, and finished it by visiting several local youth orchestras. We picked BYO because we did not want any maestro screaming at our kids, my wife watched Jay with the kids during regular practice, saw how demanding yet nurturing he was, and the decision was made – we would send our kids to BYO!
My daughter was very happy at BYO (she is now in college). She became the Viola Principal, and on her last year of High School, she applied and was accepted at the famous San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the most advanced youth orchestra in California and probably the best in the Nation; but she just could not quit BYO, so she practiced at BYO Saturday mornings, and at SFSYO in the afternoon, for the whole year!
My younger daughter also had a great experience at BYO, but as she started competing nationally and internationally for her sport, traveling every other weekend, she had to make a choice; and she chose her sport, although with a broken heart…
BYO is more than a youth orchestra; BYO is a family. At BYO, not only kids learn music, but they learn discipline, and learn to be part of a team, and they strive not to let their team down. Just like in sports, it is an important prelude of what they will find in real life. IT IS a preparatory school for life. You could say that of every youth orchestra, though, but there is something special about BYO: here, our young musicians learn from the example of their parents, what it is to be part of a community, what it means to volunteer, and how great it is to give of oneself to one cause.
Bringing my kids to BYO was one of the best decisions our family made. It was so good, that my kids now left BYO but I am still here… it is hard to leave behind all those friends we make at BYO!