What is the Brigham Young University New Horizons Orchestra (NHO)?

The BYU New Horizons Orchestra was established in 2003 to create an opportunity for adults — and especially for senior adults — to begin study of a musical instrument. It serves as an “entry point” into instrumental music education for people who have never played before, and a “re-entry” point for those who may have been away from music making for many years. It also serves as a laboratory teaching setting for BYU music education students, and a vehicle for identifying and studying the ways music can affect family life. The orchestra regularly enrolls 45–60 participants. It is operated in cooperation with the Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake and Summerhays Music Center, with support from the BYU School of Music and Charles Liu Fine Violins. All who participate in this program commit to abide by the BYU Honor Code.

The BYU-NHO is directed by Allison Taylor, a graduate of the BYU music education program. The orchestra is conducted by Allison, along with the founders of the orchestra, Dr. Andrew Dabczynski and Dr. Gordon Childs, as well as Dr. Sam Tsugawa, current professor of music education at Brigham Young University.

Is the BYU New Horizons Orchestra the only one of its kind?

Yes and no! The first New Horizons musical ensemble, a band, was organized in 1991 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, by music education professor Roy Ernst. Since then, some 120 New Horizons Bands have been established in the United States, Australia and Canada. Andrew Dabczynski, emeritus professor of music education at Brigham Young University, founded the first New Horizons Orchestra in 1997, also in Rochester, while he was Professor Ernst’s colleague. There are now at least twenty other New Horizons orchestras, with more being planned. The Provo-based BYU orchestra is the first New Horizons Orchestra in Utah. See the New Horizons International Music Association Website for details: www.newhorizonsmusic.org

Who may participate?

Any adult over 40 is welcome to take part in the BYU New Horizons Orchestra. Senior citizens are particularly welcome and encouraged to participate. Typically, the BYU New Horizons Orchestra attracts adults of an average age of 58.

What instruments may I play?

Instruction will be offered on the four orchestral string instruments: violin, viola, cello, and string bass. No previous musical experience is necessary.

Do I need to know how to read music?

No. While most participants have had some experience with music during their lifetime, not all know how to read it. Reading music is one of the many skills that will be taught.

When are lessons offered?

BYU New Horizons Orchestra lessons and rehearsals are held from 9:30–11:30 AM on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Oak Hill 7th Ward Building (known locally as the “Apple Chapel”), 1038 North 1200 East, Provo — near Apple and Cherry Streets and Kiwanis Park. Instruction takes place from September through July.

How are lessons structured?

Students learn in a large group (orchestra) setting, and also “break out” into smaller groups and chamber ensembles. Depending upon the number and level of participants enrolled, members may receive occasional semi-private and even private instruction.

I have a part-time job, and sometimes go out of state to visit my grandchildren. Is it OK to miss rehearsals sometimes?

Obviously, a participant will learn faster and learn more with regular attendance at the orchestra rehearsals, therefore, a participant will need to consider options according to their personal desire for musical abilities and the need to attend to other personal obligations/goals.

I can play a little already. Am I too "advanced" for the orchestra?

No. It is assumed that there will be participants at various levels of proficiency (feel free to consult with the directors). As the group continues to grow, it will likely divide into at least two main ensembles: a group of beginners, and a group of students who have established some independence and experience.

Do I need to audition?

No. Anyone is welcome. If you’re a day-one beginner, you may stay at the “beginner” level for as long as you wish. When you feel ready, you may move on to the more advanced group. Or, move up and back again! We’ll help you progress at your own rate.

What equipment do I need?

Each participant needs to bring to each rehearsal (available at local music stores or online):

  • A violin, viola, cello, or bass
  • A folding music stand
  • A copy of:
    • String Explorer, Book 1 and Book 2 for your own instrument (Alfred Publishing Co.)
    • Fiddlers Philharmonic (blue cover — Alfred Publishing Co.)
    • Fiddlers Philharmonic Encore (red cover — Alfred Publishing Co.)
  • Optional: A copy of Basic Fiddlers Philharmonic: Old-Time Fiddle Tunes for your instrument (Alfred Publishing Co.)
  • Materials are available from most local music stores (recommended), and also from many online stores.

Other music is provided. Participants may need to purchase additional music at a later time.

Where should I get these materials?

There are many local music dealers and string instrument makers in the Utah and Salt Lake valleys. When purchasing an instrument, we recommend that you work with a reputable person or firm, such as Charles Liu Fine Violins in Midvale, or Summerhays Music Center in Orem, both NHO sponsors. They will help you purchase the best sounding instrument within your price range. Our group method book, String Explorer is available from many print music dealers, such as Best in Music, Burt Murdock’s, and Pepper’s, all local distributors. We recommend that materials – and instruments in particular – not be purchased over the Internet. Instructors will be happy to offer additional advice.

Is anything else required of me?

BYU music education majors often take part as observers, participants and teachers, and your cooperation and feedback is appreciated. In addition, the NHO serves as a unique laboratory for discovering more about how adults learn and process music, and how music affects family relationships. From time to time, the BYU School of Music and the colleges of Fine Arts and Family Life may request your voluntary cooperation in research activities.

Other than that, we just hope you have a great time learning and making music!
Further questions? Email newhorizons@byu.edu

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