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Morning Sun
  • SEK Youth Orchestra draws teens

  • There are a lot of ways for young people to spend Saturday morning, including sleeping late after a week of getting up early for school.



    But a group of area junior high and high school students have chosen to get up and come to Pittsburg from as far away as Chanute, Fort Scott, Independence, Joplin and Carl Junction, Mo., to make music together.

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  • There are a lot of ways for young people to spend Saturday morning, including sleeping late after a week of getting up early for school.
    But a group of area junior high and high school students have chosen to get up and come to Pittsburg from as far away as Chanute, Fort Scott, Independence, Joplin and Carl Junction, Mo., to make music together.
    The newly formed Southeast Kansas Youth Orchestra, which held its fifth rehearsal Saturday on the Pittsburg State University campus.
    “Cody Toll, Fort Scott High School orchestra director, had the idea of starting a Southeast Kansas Youth Orchestra,” said Cooper Neil, Pittsburg High School instrumental music instructor.
    It wasn’t quite that way, according to Raul Munguia, PSU music faculty member and Southeast Kansas Symphony music director. He serves as conductor for the  youth orchestra.
    “Cooper doesn’t give himself enough credit,” Munguia said. “It was Cody Toll and Cooper Neil who came up with this, and I just jumped in.”
    There’s no disagreement whatever with the goal of the orchestra.
    “We are trying to grow interest in strings in southeast Kansas and give students an opportunity to play in full on a weekly basis,” Neil said.
    Auditions were held in December 2012
    “I presented the idea to the board of the SEK Symphony and they loved it,” Munguia said. “The SEK Symphony provides us with a small budget.”
    That money covers stipends for symphony members who work as coaches with youth orchestra members in small groups divided by instrument.
    “We have them for almost every instrument, and it’s very good for the kids to get that individual instruction,” Munguia said. “It’s also a unique opportunity for our symphony members to have that opportunity to work with students. It’s something they otherwise might not get until they’re student teaching or working.”
    Saturday rehearsals typically start out with sectionals at McCray Recital Hall, then the youth orchestra moves across campus to a band rehearsal area located in the Kelce School of Business for full-group practice under Munguia’s direction.
    Mason Wayne and Emily Adams, both eighth grade students from Fort Scott, said that being in the orchestra is well worth getting up early on a Saturday and traveling 30 miles.
    “Being in the youth symphony puts me to another level, makes me work harder, practice more and be a better musician,” said Wayne, who plays violin.
    Adams, who plays trumpet, said that her school does not have a symphony that she and Wayne could join.
    “I enjoy coming here and getting to play harder stuff than I do otherwise,” she said.
    Noah Braun, Pittsburg High School freshman, has been playing tuba for 3 1/2 years.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I can expand my musical boundaries here better than I can any other place,” he said. “It’s my plan to major in music at PSU.”
    Munguia said that the orchestra will have its first concert on May 4.
    “We started with 36 kids, and we’d love to have more,” he said. “Any kid between the ages of 12 and 18 can come and play, regardless of level. This is also a great benefit for the homeschoolers to come and make music with other students. The invitation is open.”

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