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American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Makes Transition to Virtual Learning

With over 450 students in five orchestras and six instrumental ensembles learning instruments and recording concerts online, AYPO embraces the advantages of technology.

American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Makes Transition to Virtual Learning

American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is finding that the concessions they have had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic, are not all bad. Fearing a loss of students and having to teach skills that might not translate in a virtual setting, the organization has been pleasantly surprised by how things have panned out.

"We were obviously very concerned initially," says AYPO Executive Director, Dr. Graham Elliott. "But in some cases we've actually had record numbers of enrollment. Beyond that, the use of all this technology is giving our students valuable skills that are only going to help them in the future, while allowing us to reach some students who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend in person."

Reaching underserved students has always been a priority for the organization, but going virtual has allowed AYPO to expand their approach, in effort to match the rising calls this year for equity and diversity. The organization has increased the number of scholarships for those in need and now that things have gone online, transportation and scheduling is a non-issue for many students who would otherwise be unable to make it to practice.

"Music transcends cultural and monetary boundaries," says Dr. Elliott. "Any child with skill deserves all the resources necessary to grow their talent."

While the COVID-19 pandemic has up-ended life and caused a lot of suffering, the organization has found another bright spot in the addition of the added technology necessary to carry out their work. The skills that each student has to learn in order to not only meet with their coaches and practice virtually, but to perform for concerts, has given them experience that will likely come in handy in our increasingly digital world.

AYPO will produce two concerts in the remaining weeks of 2020 on December 6th and December 13th. In preparation for each performance, all 90 orchestra students perform and record their pieces individually. Those 90 individual performances are then edited together by the organization's digital media manager, which, Dr. Graham adds, is a "huge job". Those concerts can be viewed via the organization's website on the corresponding days. The concerts will be streamed on YouTube.

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