November 15, 2019
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Handbook
Austin Youth Orchestra Handbook  


The Austin Youth Orchestra (AYO) program was established to enhance orchestral music education in the metropolitan Austin and central Texas area. The various orchestras accommodate different levels of experience, playing ability, and grade groupings: 

Academy Orchestras:

Prelude Orchestra (Grades 6 and 7) Spring Semester Only
Concertante Orchestra (Grades 1 to 5) String Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Intermezzo Orchestra (Grades 3 to 8) String Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Camerata Orchestra (Grades 4 to 8) String Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)

Membership in the Austin Youth Orchestra Academy (AYOA) program is open to all orchestra students (grade 1-8) through an audition process. It provides an enriching, rewarding experience with comprehensive technique instruction, intensive orchestral instruction, and regular performances at various venues. 

Austin Youth Orchestras:

Sinfonietta Orchestra, (Grade 6 and above) String Orchestra/Full Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Philharmonic Orchestra (Grade 6 and above), String/Full Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Symphony Orchestra (Grade 9 and above), String/Full Orchestra (Fall and Spring Semesters)

Membership in the AYO program is open to all orchestra students (grade 6 -12) through an audition process. It provides an enriching, rewarding experience with comprehensive and intensive orchestral instruction, and regular performances of the highest quality of literature at various venues. 


MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS

Membership in the AYO and AYOA is open to all interested orchestra students who qualify through the audition process. A string student from a school with an orchestra program must be a member in good standing in his/her school orchestra. Similarly, a wind or percussion student must be a member in good standing in his/her school band program. Membership in the program is contingent upon payment of tuition and return of the completed membership acceptance form with the school orchestra/band director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra/band program. Students must provide their own instruments, accessories, a black one inch three-ring binder for music and handouts, and a pencil for each rehearsal.


MEMBERSHIP TUITION FEES

There is a yearly tuition fee for each participating member. The first payment is due before the first rehearsal in August. The second payment is due September 30th. All AYO members are committing to the entire year of performance if a student drops out at the second semester, no refund will be given. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon payment of the tuition fee. Tuition fees may be paid by credit (on AYO website) by check or cash before the first rehearsal. A late fee of $25 will be assessed if payment is not received by the payment due date, and arrangements for payment have not been made with administration.

Students may not participate in the AYO program if tuition payment is not received by the second practice session following the tuition due date. Contact the AYO administrative staff if you need to arrange a financial payment plan. 

In the event a student decides they are unable to participate in the AYO program after the membership tuition fee has been paid, partial reimbursements will be allowed through the month of September. There will be no reimbursement of the membership tuition fee after September 30th. Proof of payment is necessary.


REHEARSALS AND PERFORMANCES 

Prompt attendance is expected of students at all rehearsals. The Organizer and the Conductor are to be notified in advance via e-mail or text in the event of an illness, family/personal emergency, or unavoidable conflict that will prevent the student from attending a rehearsal. 

Students are expected to be attentive and to behave appropriately at all rehearsals and performances. No cell phone usage, eating or drinking other than water is allowed. Organizers will occasionally bring snacks and treats for students for break time, and all students must be sure to clean up all food and trash before leaving the practice location. Inappropriate behavior by students will result in removal from rehearsals and performances or dismissal from the AYO program. 

Students should be in their seats ten minutes before rehearsals begin. Arriving to rehearsal more than ten minutes after the published starting time will be counted as "tardy". More than two "tardies" will be considered excessive. 
Prompt attendance is expected of students at all rehearsals: More than two absences within each semester will not be allowed, and the two absences may not be in succession. More than two absences or two successive absences within a semester or excessive tardiness will result in the student's dismissal from the AYO program for the remainder of the academic school year. 

Prompt attendance is expected of students at all concerts. Absences from a concert will be excused only for the reasons of illness or family/personal emergency – not conflicts with other activities – and if the Organizer and Conductor are notified in advance. An absence from a concert for a reason other than illness or family/personal emergency will result in the student's dismissal from the AYO program for the remainder of the season.


ORCHESTRA CONCERT ATTIRE 

Each orchestra member is required to perform concerts in proper attire. The concert attire for each orchestra is as follows. 

Symphony 

Black tuxedo with black cummerbund; white long-sleeved shirt; black bow tie; black socks; black dress shoes (no sneakers). 

Floor-length modestly-cut black dress or black floor-length skirt/black full-length dress slacks (no black jeans) with black sleeved blouse; black dress shoes (no sneakers or flip flops). Dresses or blouses may not be sleeveless, shoulderless, or have spaghetti straps. 


Philharmonic 

Black dress pants (no jeans); black long-sleeved shirt; black long tie; black socks; black dress shoes (no sneakers). 

Below the knee black skirt or dress; black sleeved blouse; black full-length dress pants (no jeans). Dresses or blouses may not be sleeveless, shoulderless or have spaghetti straps; black dress shoes (no sneakers or flip flops) 

Sinfonietta, Camerata, Intermezzo, Concertante, Prelude

Black dress slacks (no black jeans); white long-sleeved shirt; black long tie; black socks; black dress shoes (no sneakers) 

Below the knee black skirt or dress; white sleeved blouse; black full-length dress pants (no jeans). Dresses or blouses may not be sleeveless, shoulderless or have spaghetti straps; black dress shoes (no sneakers or flip flops) 

Failure to comply with the concert attire requirements will result in the student not being allowed to perform in the concert.
 

AYO CHAIR TEST AUDITIONS

Symphony, Philharmonic and Sinfonietta. 

Chair test auditions are a necessary and helpful part of the Austin Youth Orchestra experience: 

•Students will encounter these auditions throughout their musical journey.
•The chair test are the basis for seating the members of the orchestra in an order that produces the strongest possible ensemble.
•Chair test chair test will happen at the beginning of each semester. No more than one evaluation per semester.
•These chair test auditions are not optional.
•Members of these orchestras will submit their chair test auditions via video recordings according to the instruction on the AYO website.
•Students who fail to submit a video chair test audition will be placed at the back of the instrumental section.
•Students who do not fulfill two consecutive chair test audition requirements will be dismissed from the AYO program without refund of the tuition paid.


AYOA EVALUATIONS

Camerata and Intermezzo Evaluations

•The evaluations help the conductor to know the technical skills of the members of the orchestra, monitor the studnet’s progress and coordinate that knowledge with the music being chosen to perform.
• There will be at least two evaluation per semester.
•Evaluations are not optional. Students who do not fulfill their evaluation requirements will be dismissed from the AYOA program without refund of the tuition paid. 
•Evaluations are not for seating the members of the orchestra. The conductor will rotate the seating and will decide the seating order that produces the strongest possible ensemble.
•Students will encounter these auditions throughout their musical journey.
•The evaluations help the conductor to know the technical skills of the members of the orchestra and to coordinate that knowledge with the music being chosen to perform.
•The evaluations are the basis for seating the members of the orchestra in an order that produces the strongest possible ensemble.
•Evaluations will happen at least twice per semester.
•These evaluations are not optional.
•Members of these orchestras will sometimes submit their evaluation via video recordings according to the instruction on the AYO website, or the evaluation may be a live playing event during the regular rehearsal. 
•Students who fail to submit an evaluation or who are not present for the live evaluation will be placed at the back of the instrumental section.
•Students who do not fulfill two consecutive evaluation requirements will be dismissed from the AYO program without refund of the tuition paid.

Concertante and Prelude

Concertante and Prelude will not have formal evaluations. Formal evaluations means students are ranked in in numerical order based on skill level. 

•The conductors of these formative orchestras will determine, from observation during the rehearsals and/or sectionals, how to best seat the students to achieve the strongest possible ensemble.
•The conductor of each orchestra may ask for checkpoint playing events during the semester to evaluate individual progress, encourage practice, and to form plans for future rehearsals.
•The conductor will decide which player will sit in the Concertmaster and Principal chair in each section. 
•The conductor will also designate Section Anchors. Section Anchors will be strong players seated throughout the section to produce the strongest possible ensemble.




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