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As I mentioned at last rehearsal and in the blog post below, I was curious to have members of the SYO share their thoughts on leadership. I asked two questions:  What kind of leader do you want to be? And what kind of leader do you want others to be?  I only received one submission. And I don’t say that because of a disappointment in not receiving more because that isn’t the case. I just wanted to be clear that in sharing what the player wrote below I wasn’t excluding other players’ voices. I would happily share anything this coming week if anyone wants to contribute. And that would be the case whether the opinions or values you have are ones I agreed with or if they are outside my world view.

I had a blog post planned this week about leadership that would incorporate player comments, but I stopped my draft after reading what was sent to me below. It gave me pause and will inform Part 2 of this post which I will write this coming week. But for now I hope you’ll take the time to ponder what is written below. I think it describes perfectly the kind of leaders our world needs right now. Rather than launch into my thoughts on leadership, I’d like to let these words stand on their own (something they do with ease):


“For a long time I thought leaders were exclusively people with power: the organizers, the elected, the authority. These people can give us guidance, direction, and encouragement. Although they are usually the recognized face of leadership, they are definitely not the only kinds of leaders we have. More and more I began to recognize the people I knew who I wanted to be around because of their positivity and personality. I recognized the people who I respected because they maintained their own values, even if they were different than my own. I recognized the people who supported their peers and made every effort to be inclusive. Even without titles of leadership, these people were influencers.  Positivity, moral integrity, and supportive may not be the typical qualities of a leader, but I believe they are qualities we all could embrace to become unassuming leaders or people who lead by by example.”


Thank you for a great first rehearsal of the year last night. As I mentioned in rehearsal, I’m interested in having members of the orchestra share their thoughts on leadership. Not just about leadership in music or in an orchestra, but in the world at large.  If you are interested in participating, please email me at with your answers to the following questions. I will be incorporating responses into a blog post I’ll be writing. If I quote you, I will not do so by name…..

What kind of leader do you want to be? And what kind of leader do you want others to be?

Happy New Year SYO!

I spent some time over the holidays reflecting on new year’s resolutions. So often they are about things that we want to change. But I think there’s also a place for resolutions which affirm things that you are already doing well and then resolve to continue in those habits. That is part of the genesis of what follows below. It is a reflection on what values I hope everyone (players, coaches, and myself included) can continue to bring to our youth orchestra community. I believe that these values not only help make the music better, they are a primary ingredient in our success. From our dedicated Players’ Executive to the newest players to join our orchestra, I see these values play out every week we gather. I list these values here not because I think we need to change our behaviour, but to affirm that when we lean into these values, we bring out the best in ourselves and our community. I’m excited for this new year; through the lens of focus, friendship, and fun I look forward to making great music together.


The SYO values…

  • Focus

To that end, constructive criticism is a part of the rehearsal process. Whether being offered by a director, coach, or player, constructive criticism will aim to foster growth and self-confidence. Put downs or comparisons to specific players would not only inhibit growth, but would be an action that stands in opposition to our value on focus

  • Friendship

The SYO is a place where life long friendships are forged. While not every member of the SYO community will become a close personal friend, all members of the community will embrace this value in their actions towards one and other. Friends are kind in their words with each other. Thus, any gossip about another member of the SYO community or of the musical community at large would be a betrayal of this value of friendship.

  • Fun

It’s not a coincidence that the verb we use to describe the act of music making is ‘play’! Great music making at every level embraces and celebrates the concept of play and fun. The fact that we value fun does not negate the value on focus. The SYO will always strive towards performing at the highest possible level of which we are capable. But we can’t forget to have fun along the way. Focus and fun run side by side in developing excellence in the SYO. As a community, let’s embrace those opportunities to have fun and put a smile on each others’ faces. Genuine and positive reinforcement from everyone in the SYO community will fuse focus and fun. Sometimes we have to leave our warm houses in -40 weather to get to SYO rehearsal. For all that effort it better be fun!

Hi SYO, I’m looking forward to a great concert this Sunday. Remember that the dress rehearsal is from 1-3:30 at the Hilton Garden Inn (NOTE THE DIFFERENT LOCATION THIS YEAR). Paul will be sending you info about the call time for the concert.

Rep (in concert order) is: Gershwin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Christmas Festival


I’m looking forward to a great second half of the season.  There have been some changes to the repertoire. Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances has been replaced with Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5. The Youth Overture by Ichmouritov has been replaced by A Dream of Dawn by Kevin Lau. Updates have been made to the repertoire videos on the blog.

See you in January!

Hi All.  Thank you for a great rehearsal on Sunday.  The following is the rep for Sundog.  Strings, we will do this without switching seating as the stage will be too crowded.  It’s hard to estimate how much time we will have on stage due to the time it takes to set up, but repertoire will be selected from:

How To Train Your Dragon

English Folk Song Suite

Barber of Seville Overture

March and Trepak from Nutcracker

Danse Macabre (you know, because that’s Christmasy :p)

Thank you for a great first rehearsal everyone!  In rehearsal last night I made reference to the use of drones for intonation practice (drones of the long sustained type, not those remote mini helicopters with a GoPro on it…..although that would be pretty cool.

This is where I got my drones.  They are a lifeblood of my practice and my students’.

You can also find drones for free on YouTube.  Last night we used a B natural drone, for example:

Hello SYO members.  I am really excited for our new season of SYO to begin!!  We will be an orchestra of over 70 people this year.  If this is your first year in SYO, myself and the returning players are looking forward to welcoming you.  You’ll get all of your music at the first rehearsal, but I wanted to share with you the repertoire plans for the season.  Each year I hold a programming meeting that is open to all SYO players.  I take suggestions for repertoire as well as suggestions about our youth orchestra program in general.  Players expressed an interest in performing more often.  And that is exactly what will happen this season.  As you’ll see below, we will perform almost once a month.  There is overlap in repertoire with some of the concerts.  We work so hard on this music that it seems a shame to only perform it once!  The amount of music overall represents a slight increase in the amount in past seasons, but I’ve aimed to find a balance between the challenge (and excitement) of preparing more repertoire, while also not biting of more than can be chewed.

The list has many pieces that were suggested by SYO players, contains some of the crown jewels of the orchestral repertoire, and also a few pieces that you might not know but I think you will grow to love.

During the season I look forward to every Sunday evening that we get to make music together.  In the time before our first rehearsal I encourage you to listen to the repertoire that we will rehearse and perform.  There are many great recording available of these pieces.  I’ve shared some on this blog.  Click on the tab marked SYO 2017-2018 Repertoire Videos/Recordings to find these.  Have a great rest of the summer and see you in rehearsal!

Oct 1- Rosthern Concert

Danse Macabre- Saint Saens 

How To Train Your Dragon- Powell 

Choir rep TBA

Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust- Berlioz

English Folk Song Suite- Vaughn Williams


Nov 12- Concert in Quance Theatre

Danse Macabre- Saint Saens

How To Train Your Dragon- Powell

Barber of Seville Overture- Rossini 

Les Preludes- Liszt 

English Folk Song Suite- Vaughn Williams


Dec 17- Winter Concert

Nutcracker Suite- Tchaikovsky

Les Preludes- Liszt 

Sleigh Ride- Anderson

Christmas Festival- Anderson


Jan 13- Chamber Orchestra

Concerto for Marimba and Strings- Sejourne 

Symphony No 1- Beethoven 

Concerto Grosso, Op. 6 No. 1- Handel


Feb 4- Concert in Quance for Open House guests

O Canada

How To Train Your Dragon- Powell

Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1- Elgar 

Les Preludes- Liszt

highlights from Symphonic Dances- Rachmaninoff


Mar 10 or 11- SYO Anniversary Concert

Pilgrimage- Godwin Friesen 

Youth Overture – Airat Ichmouratov

highlights from Symphonic Dances- Rachmaninoff

Les Preludes- Liszt

Barber of Seville Overture- Rossini 

Elgar- Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1


Mar 24- Combined Concert with SSO

Youth Overture – Airat Ichmouratov


Ap 22- Spring Concert

Tzigane- Ravel

Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1- Elgar- with SSTR

Symphonic Dances- Rachmaninoff

There is a cut in the Vieuxtemps concerto.

We’ll play from the beginning until the double bar before the Adagio.  From there we cut to the Allegro con fuoco

There is a video I talked about in string sectionals on the weekend that I would like everyone to watch.  I will reference it repeatedly in the coming weeks.  It also happens to be very fun to watch!