Why Join BYOC?
BYOC’s program is top-notch
The Billings Youth Orchestra and Chorale is dedicated to the pursuit of musical excellence. For orchestral players and members of our chorale, that means starting them younger, offering them rich opportunities for learning and performance, and challenging them to advance to the highest possible level.
In keeping with these goals, BYOC orchestral ensembles are not age restricted. Since students benefit most from an orchestra that’s properly matched to their skills, members of any age may be placed in any orchestra, based on their ability. This helps all students thrive, but is especially beneficial for those who are either more advanced or less advanced than is typical for their age.
In our chorale we have found the need to restrict membership by age based on voice development. The chorale offers eighth grade through high school seniors the opportunity to challenge their voice skills at a level that rivals that of the Billings Symphony Chorale.
We have six outstanding conductors, four that are responsible for our four orchestra levels and two conductors for our choral roups, each a specialist in the area they teach. We also employ professional musicians, such as string and choral voice mentors to coach sectionals. As a special treat for our most advanced orchestra in the past, we have invited high level conductors from around the region (and beyond) to spend a week in Billings, sharing their expertise, and guest conducting a concert performance.
Perhaps most important from the students’ perspective, BYOC members benefit greatly from their association with each other. As every serious musician or voice performer soon discovers, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with other players who are similarly dedicated and passionate about their music.
BYOC complements school music programs
Our program covers a broad range of ages and a wide geographic area. This includes groups with little or no access to school orchestra programs, such as young children, college students, mentoring parents, and students from home schools and outlying rural school districts.
For those fortunate students who have a school orchestra, BYOC is an excellent supplement, offering additional opportunity and challenges to promote more rapid advancement. This accelerated pace benefits not only the student, but also improves both their BYOC and school orchestras & choirs. Everybody wins.
BYOC’s top level orchestra attracts the best
Our most advanced orchestra and our chorale is a magnet for dedicated players and vocal performers from across the region. They come to play and sing with others like themselves and to work with our excellent conductors and clinicians. We treat them as serious musicians, maintain high expectations, perform only professional repertoire, and offer ambitious tours. We’re proud that many Repertory Orchestra members have become interns with the Billings Symphony, and many have entered college as music majors.
BYOC is a great opportunity for non-string players
Our program isn’t just for string players and chorale, but it can be quite challenging for musicians whose experience is mostly in school band. That’s what makes BYOC such a great opportunity. We help woodwind, brass, and percussion players acquire the skills needed for advanced orchestral performance, taking their playing to a whole new level.
BYOC is exciting and fun
One of the best things about BYOC is the people you meet. Students enjoy getting to know our expert conductors and clinicians, and they inevitably find new friends among our amazing array of smart, motivated, talented members. For connecting with interesting people who share a passion for music, BYOC is the place to be. Although rehearsing with friends is certainly fun (and motivating), our concerts are the highlights of the season.
BYOC tours are rewarding
Tours are a musically-rewarding, component of our program. Whenever possible, students hear great performances, participate in workshops with excellent clinicians, and perform for a variety of audiences.
Our tours are also really fun! Parents are welcome to participate as helpers and chaperones, and everybody has a good time. Our beginner ensemble usually does a local day trip, while our midlevel orchestras typically enjoy a more adventurous multi-day regional tour. Our most advanced orchestra has enjoyed fabulous experiences in New York and Chicago.
BYOC teaches self discipline and teamwork
Although BYOC is a kind of school, it works differently than most. There are no formal homework assignments or regular exams to push students along, and no fixed schedule for advancement to the next level. How rapidly you advance in BYOC depends solely on your own initiative and self discipline. This may come as a shock to some, but that’s how real life works, and we believe it’s a valuable lesson in itself.
Another important lesson is the value of teamwork. A successful orchestra performance is a team effort, requiring hard work from every player. Just as in sports, each player’s effort affects the outcome for everyone else. So BYOC players learn to take responsibility, support each other, and work together to achieve a result that makes everyone proud.
BYOC helps with college
If you’re considering music as a major, joining BYOC is a no brainer. You’ll need every bit of music experience you can get, especially if you’re hoping for scholarship money. But advanced orchestral skills can give even non-music majors an edge. Like sports teams, college orchestras need top players, and this can work to your advantage.
BYOC is affordable and a great value
Although BYOC is expensive to operate, it’s actually a great deal for members. That’s because we keep tuition low by raising funds from other sources. The Billings community has been generous in its support of BYOC, and that benefits all members.
If you’re not convinced, consider the cost per hour of instruction. It’s much cheaper than typical music lessons, and it’s inexpensive compared to sports programs too, with their equipment and travel costs.
We also have a need-based scholarship program to make sure that BYOC is available to all students, regardless of their financial circumstance.