Program offers tuition-free music education
The Hill Country is alive with the sounds of string music.
Thirty years ago, the Hill Country Youth Orchestras was established in Kerrville with the purpose of bringing orchestra to kids ages 5-18 in the Hill Country.
Currently, the program has 150 kids, and 30 percent of those come from Fredericksburg.
Participants pay no tuition to be in the program, giving kids from all financial walks of life the opportunity to play music.
“We serve all across the spectrum and it’s most important that we note that no child pays for participating,” Executive Director Matt Evans said.
The cost of instrument rentals is also covered if a family can’t afford it.
“This creates a culture where everyone is treated equally and has the chance to succeed because money should never be a problem,” Evans said.
Expanding the program
Because the program has such a significant draw from Fredericksburg, the HCYO will open its first sister campus in September, to be based at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church.
“Based on what our mission statement says, it’s important that we meet kids where they are,” Evans said.
HCYO knew of the influence that the Kids Music Academy, a music program at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, that offers choral, string and instrument lessons, has but wanted to team up and expand.
Transportation to Kerrville was also a barrier the organization faced.
“We want to make it available to any kid and take out that barrier,” HCYO teacher Theresa Britt said.
HCYO looks to start by offering beginner classes to students in elementary and middle school grades. This way, they can slowly grow the program as the kids advance.
Britt, who is also the director of the Fredericksburg Community Orchestra, will teach the first classes.
“I have been working with the Fredericksburg Orchestra and the HCYO already, and our focus is to utilize these resources that have already been established,” Britt said. “It will be nice to tap into these kids.”
The upper-level classes will still be held in Kerrville until students in Fredericksburg reach that advanced level.
“First, our hope is to make ourselves available in the community, and then after looking at that, we want to bring in as many kids as we can,” Evans said. “In 10 years, we hope that the program in Fredericksburg grows to the size of the program in Kerrville.”
With growing programs, Evans envisions a concert with 400 kids from the Hill Country performing orchestra music.
To reach a group this large, Evans and HCYO have been using word of mouth to share the news of the expanding program as well as planning visits to local schools.
“The network of musicians is tight and if we can get public school kids and private school kids and homeschool kids and include them, that would be really great,” Britt said.
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