New York City Housing Authority

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Family Life

Strike Up the Band
NYCHA Creates A Youth Orchestra

Elementary and middle school-aged New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents have a unique opportunity to become pioneering members of the Authority’s new Youth Instrumental Ensemble. The Housing Authority is hiring professional music instructors to teach NYCHA residents between the ages of nine and 13 how to play a musical instrument and be part of an orchestra.

Participation in the NYCHA Youth Instrumental Ensemble is free of charge, but students will need to work hard and parents will need to lend their support to make this new endeavor work, said NYCHA’s Citywide Programs Deputy Director Ukah Busgith. "Since kids will come from all over the city, parents may need to escort students to the center and pick them up." Transportation is not provided to or from the Straus Community Center in mid-town Manhattan where the music lessons will take place.

NYCHA Youth Chorus

NYCHA hopes the new Youth Ensemble will become as popular as its Youth Chorus
Photo by: Kevin Devoe

Both parents and students will be interviewed for consideration for one of the 50 spots in the Youth Instrumental Ensemble. Interested students are required to complete an application, submit a 100 word essay explaining their desire to join the Youth Instrumental Ensemble, and obtain one letter of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor or NYCHA Community Center director.

In addition to learning how to play brass, string or percussion instruments, students will also learn how to read sheet music and work together as a team. Participants must exhibit maturity and dedication as they commit to attend weekly scheduled lessons. Students will also be held responsible for maintaining the condition of the new instruments they will be allowed to borrow so they can practice at home.

Even though it may take several months for the gifted members of the Youth Instrumental Ensemble to gain enough experience to perform in front of an audience, NYCHA is confident that the new orchestra will become as popular as the NYCHA Youth Chorus, which is in high demand to perform at various venues throughout the city.

Busgith says she would like to see the young members of the Youth Instrumental Ensemble excel and gain exposure for their musical talents. "They will play Family Days, special NYCHA events, and individuals may also compete in the annual talent show."

By Tischelle George
February 26, 2007

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