Author Archives: Diana Nolan

Transitions in YOBC’s Back Office Staff

Beginning in June, there will be some important changes in YOBC’s administrative staff. Long-time auditions coordinator and office manager, Diana Nolan, will be retiring at the end of June after 18 years at YOBC. Diana has overseen the auditions and enrollment of more than 1000 students who have participated in YOBC, which has doubled its annual membership and more than doubled the number of ensembles since she was first involved in 2000.

Stepping into the newly named administrative coordinator role will be Virginia Glatzer, a YOBC alumni parent whose two clarinetists were YOBC members from 2012 to 2017. Virginia has over 20 years of experience as an educational consultant and a strong background in technology, the use of technology in education, and database management. “After years of my own children’s experience in YOBC,” Virginia says, “I am excited to be involved in all of the behind-the-scenes happenings that give our children such wonderful musical opportunities.”

A new position at YOBC – development director – will be filled by Beth Guerriero. Some YOBC string students may recognize Beth as a local violin and viola teacher. For the past few years Beth has been working as director of education of The Harmony Program in New York City. This El Sistema–inspired organization brings music making to children from underserved communities to allow them to explore new avenues and realize their full potential. She is looking forward to sharing her experiences with YOBC as she returns to this area next month.

“I’m really excited to begin working as the development director for the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County, an organization where I’ve seen the direct impact music education is having on the young musicians of the greater Philadelphia area,” says Beth. “I’m happy to join the team, and will be very active in developing our plans for increasing fundraising and donors.”

Over the last dozen years or so, one of the main behind-the-scenes missions has been to make YOBC into a strong, viable organization with the infrastructure to sustain it for years – no matter who is running it. With the support of YOBC’s active Board of Directors, this strong administrative team will continue to provide the groundwork that enables the artistic staff to focus on the high-quality programs and opportunities that make YOBC a special place for young musicians in Bucks and surrounding counties.

YOBC’s Office Manager to Retire at the End of the Season

On July 1, the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County will experience a major shift: After approximately 18 years of service to YOBC, Diana Nolan will retire from her job as…And therein lies the question: What is Diana Nolan’s job? Or  perhaps more to the point, what is NOT Diana Nolan’s job?

Her official role is office manager, but to the parents, student musicians, and staff of YOBC, she has earned a loftier title. “I call her the Knower of All Things,” says Amy Wilkowski, whose son Ryan is in the Wind Ensemble.
Her work includes – but isn’t limited to – managing the website and database; coordinating auditions; writing, editing, and publishing Keeping Tempo; sending out regular weekly news and information emails to the community; publicizing the concerts and other YOBC events; and handling such development work as tracking donations and sending out acknowledgments.

All this started back in 2000 when, as an innocent newbie parent, she agreed to do, ahem, a little volunteer work. First she coordinated concert volunteers, handled ticket sales, and managed sound recordings. Then she began the herculean task of coordinating auditions. “Diana is the perfect example of a volunteer who creates and performs a job so well, that when she decided to move on, the organization simply couldn’t allow it to happen,” says Joe Hochreiter, Jr., YOBC board member. Instead, YOBC snapped her up as a staff employee.

In those early days, the organization relied on a phone chain to get out information, recalls Eileen Wachtman, a former board member. “We were doing postal mailings for all registration, music, and information regarding concerts,” says Wachtman. “Diana was integral in bringing us out of the ‘stone age.’” She helped create the first website and moved the organization online for registrations and other information.

Over the years, Diana has dealt with “just about every type of issue and challenge the organization has faced,” says Hochreiter. “She is our historian, a former board member, a trusted advisor, and a delightful problem solver.”

And she does it all without cracking a worry line. “She just has a calming air,” says Heather Menci, whose son Wyatt is in Wind Ensemble and Philharmonia. “She always makes everyone feel welcome,” adds Ingrid Daubert, who has two daughters in YOBC.

What’s her secret? “Diana is one of the brightest, most organized women I know,” says Sue Busch, YOBC volunteer coordinator. Dori Clough, former YOBC board member, agrees wholeheartedly, calling Diana “a very well-organized, well-spoken and dedicated representative of YOBC.” Her skills at keeping organized have even rubbed off on others. “She has kept me on task and on target in so many ways,” says Steve Sweetsir, conductor of Fanfare Winds.
Outside of YOBC, Diana does editing work on reproductive health and girls’ education issues for the Population Council in New York, and she works with professors and researchers at the International and European Forum on Migration Research in Turin, translating works from Italian to English. (Italian is her third language after French and Spanish.)

There is one thing that Diana does not do: play an instrument. “I took a few years of piano in elementary school, but in junior high, I picked art over music,” she confesses. Her favorite part of her job is going to auditions. “You see the kids at their best – sometimes they even get dressed up!” she says. She also enjoys being backstage at concerts. “I love seeing the excitement and nervous energy.”

Most of all, she appreciates the sense of community at YOBC and the supportive atmosphere. “My favorite YOBC story,” she says, “is when my daughter had to attend a late rehearsal but had a lot of AP physics homework. She was very stressed out but then six people from four different high schools helped her do her physics. She left rehearsal at 10 PM with it completely finished.”

At YOBC’s annual fundraiser this year – with the theme “Swing, Swing, Swing!” – Diana arrived in character. “While most of us showed up in our dancing threads, Diana surprised us all by coming dressed as Rosie the Riveter!” says Colleen Sweetsir, YOBC’s executive director. “It was perfect type-casting, straight from Hollywood! As I watched her doing her swing dance steps, it occurred to me that the similarities between Rosie and Diana weren’t limited to how they were dressed. Like the Rosie in J. Howard Miller’s iconic We Can Do It poster, Diana’s ‘we can do it’ attitude has been the driving force behind all of her many accomplishments. For 20 years, Diana has tackled one challenge after another to make YOBC a special place for young musicians.…The We Can Do It poster is one of the 10 most requested images at the National Archives, but Diana is a Rosie original.”

Best wishes, Diana, Knower of All Things!

YOBC’s Newest Chamber Group: Trombone Ensemble

Among the many challenges of playing in a small music ensemble, Mitchell Beatch discovered this one right away: “In a bigger group like a band, it’s easier to hide. With an ensemble, you have to know your part.”

Beatch, a 7th grader at William Penn Middle School, is part of YOBC’s first-ever trombone ensemble, along with his colleagues, Kettner Hunter, an 8th grader at William Penn Middle School, and Dylan Waddell, an 8th grader at Unami Middle School. Coached by YOBC alumnus Bill Connors, who holds a Master of Music degree in Tuba Performance from the University of Denver, the ensemble meets every other week, providing the three students with the chance to learn leadership skills and develop their technical playing abilities. “It brings an additional challenge,” says Mitchell, “but not as big a challenge as moving up to the advanced division. It’s a good opportunity.”

While large groups like the Wind Symphony have conductors, ensemble players are on their own. They must learn to start together and choose a tempo and stick to it. They are responsible for dynamics, balance, phrasing, and playing the right rhythm, among other skills. Much like a sports team, if everyone doesn’t carry his weight, the outcome won’t be a success.

The challenges of small ensemble playing have helped the three students grow in many ways. For instance, Dylan says, “My articulation has gotten a lot better.” Mitchell, on the other hand, notes that his tone has improved over the course of the year.

Besides all the learning opportunities, playing in an ensemble is an enjoyable experience. “We play fun music, and it’s equal for everyone,” says Kettner. “When we’re done working on the music, Bill lets us randomly play new stuff. He lets us pick what we want to play and what we all agree on. It’s fun and not so serious which can be relieving.”

In addition to a master’s degree, Connors holds a Professional Studies Certificate from the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College. In 2015, he earned 2nd place in the Brass Division of the Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Solo Competition, and he has been a semi-finalist and finalist in several international tuba competitions. You can hear him play tuba and bass trombone on Aaron Tindall’s solo album, This Is My House.

Student Spotlight: Kevyn DeWees

In the first issue of Keeping Tempo, in August 2009, we shone the first Student Spotlight on Kevyn DeWees. When auditions were held that spring for YOBC’s 2009–10 season, we auditioned a number of students for our newest string ensemble, Prima Strings. Kevyn was the first Prima Strings candidate to be accepted for our new junior ensemble. Now, nine years later, Kevyn is graduating and we thought it would be fun to check back with her at the end of her time in YOBC.

Kevyn is now a senior at the Academy of the New Church. She is currently a 1st violinist in the YOBC Symphony Orchestra. She started playing violin in second grade after learning about it in an introductory music class where she got to try out different instruments. “Of course, the quality of the instrument and playing back then were sub-par, but it got me hooked somehow!” Kevyn says.

She heard about YOBC through the string program at school at the time (Bryn Athyn Church School). Some more advanced students were already in YOBC so her teacher encouraged her to audition. “I wanted to join in order to have the opportunity to play with a larger group of people who loved to play music together,” she explained. In 2009, Kevyn reported that her audition was “really easy,” and she thought that the people were very welcoming and friendly.

Kevyn currently studies violin with Margaret Dziekonski at Settlement Music School. Aside from private lessons, she is also part of the William A. Loeb String Quartet (also at Settlement) coached by Jean Shook. “And I can’t forget school!” she adds. “I play my violin in ANC’s Instrumental Ensemble.”

Kevyn plans to pursue a neuroscience major in college, “but I have yet to see where that will take me!” she admits. She also hopes to keep playing violin “in any capacity that seems fulfilling.”

Joining Prima Strings, Kevyn told us that she was looking forward to beginning rehearsals at YOBC where she hoped to meet new people like her, who also love to play music. Upon leaving this spring, she says, “I would just like to thank YOBC for everything. Yes, my Sunday afternoons were always filled with rehearsals, but the memories and opportunities were worth every minute.”

Executive Director’s Corner: Things You Might Not Know

Did you know that a raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top, or that 40 percent of McDonalds’ profits come from the sales of Happy Meals? Sometimes what you don’t know about everyday things can surprise you.

If you have been involved with YOBC, chances are you know a lot about what we do. But here are five things that might surprise you:

  • YOBC provides students with 70 hours of specialized training in classical music each year.
  • YOBC instructors have years of teaching experience, advanced degrees in music education, and hold other professional positions in music education, conducting, and performance.
  • YOBC’s Board of Directors is active in music advocacy and works with school districts to encourage the inclusion of robust school music programs.
  • YOBC’s Board of Directors has raised over $18,400 in grants this year alone, to provide access to free music lessons and instruments through our Students-in-Concert outreach program in school districts whose music programs have been cut or eliminated.
  • YOBC, along with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and over 250 other leaders in the music industry, are signatories to the League of American Orchestras “Statement of Common Cause: Orchestras Support In-School Music Education.”

YOBC recognizes the benefits that the study of instrumental music provides and works on every level to help ensure that robust music education programs are available for all students.

Where in the World Is Erica Cherry?

 Those students who have traveled on a YOBC International Tour before, or are going to Spain this summer, already know that being involved in music can take you to great places! This June I am headed on my own musical adventure; I have been selected as one of the 2018 Teaching Artists to teach clarinet at El Sistema, El Salvador for two weeks, as part of the MusAid Teaching Artist Residency.

MusAid is a nonprofit “that connects musicians across the globe through educational exchanges designed to inspire individual and community transformations.” Basically, the MusAid team supports socially driven programs around the world by sending and training young professionals to perform and educate. Being a musician (especially a young musician!) means more than taking lessons and being able to execute your scales, exercises, and repertoire – it also means being socially and globally aware of the powers of music. Think about everything that has to happen to make you a great musician – you need access to wonderful teachers, books, bows, reeds and materials, skilled instrument technicians, the list goes on! MusAid works to fill some of these gaps in programs around the world. Since 2008, MusAid has supported music schools and orchestras in Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Burma, Haiti, Bolivia, and the Philippines.

In 2015, I was lucky enough to travel to Belize, where I taught private lessons, group classes, pedagogy classes, and performed alongside students in the orchestra. I loved my time working with the National Youth Orchestra of Belize, and there were lots of similarities to YOBC, including great music-making, motivated students, and a love of snack time.

In this year’s program in El Salvador, I will be teaching, performing, and developing my group-teaching skills along with six other fellows (you can check out everyone’s bios here. Most of the other selected Teaching Artists are active performers who have experience with private teaching, private youth orchestra programs (like YOBC), or El Sistema programs.

Our host program is El Sistema, El Salvador, which provides young people with resources to become responsible musicians and citizens. I will have the chance to work with the students of this program as well as the faculty. I’ll be performing a chamber music concert with the other fellows, as well as an orchestral concert with the whole program.

In addition to teaching private lessons, I’ll be leading orchestra sectionals and teaching master classes and workshops on a variety of topics. I’ll be one of only two wind instrumentalists there, so I’m curious to see how it goes! We will have some time off to explore the city and the area, as well. I can’t wait to come home and tell our YOBC community all about it!

Erica Cherry is YOBC’s Operations Manager and Woodwinds Sectional Coach. After her trip to El Salvador, Erica will accompany the YOBC Tour Ensemble to Andalusia, Spain.

Master Classes Fine Tune YOBC Students’ Skills

In March, a dozen YOBC students had the opportunity to perform for two world-class musicians at master classes on their instrument.

In a violin master class, David Kim, Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster, gave students tips and routines to build confidence and help overcome nerves, explored how to slow down the tempo to improve muscle memory, and demonstrated tricks for a perfect vibrato. YOBC student performers representing Concertino, Ripieno, Philharmonia, and Symphony Orchestra included: Aneta Sieminski, Anna Kim, Hannah Kim, Brooke Lion, Danielle Gershman, and Christian Teufel.

YOBC trombonists attended a class given by Matthew Vaughn, co-principal trombone at the Philadelphia Orchestra. Students from all three wind groups – Wind Symphony, Wind Ensemble, and Fanfare Winds – performed for Mr. Vaughn and received instruction on breathing, slide control, and the perfect embouchure. YOBC trombonists who performed were: Catie Chalupa, Josif Collazo, Phoebe Child, Catie Smith, Dylan Waddell, and Noah Harrison. The trombone master class was open to the public and a dozen trombonists from local high schools and universities had the opportunity to sit in and absorb the lesson and ask questions at the end.

YOBC is continuing to developing its relationship with the Philadelphia orchestra in order to keep providing these and similar events.


Executive Director’s Corner: The Art of Giving

The holiday season is here, and I think I might be in a little trouble. If you are one of those people who is done with your holiday shopping, I am happy for you. But for the rest of us, panic is beginning to set in as we enter the final lap of holiday preparations.

After weeks of searching for gifts, I only have a few lackluster items to show for my efforts. My shopping list is still as long as a checkout line in a toy store and I need some serious help with holiday gift-giving. Thankfully, there is no lack of people offering free advice on how to find the perfect gift.

Pundits on TV and online tell us how to have a hassle-free holiday. “Holiday Gift Guides” confidently promise to lead us safely through the badlands of shopping. The problem is that reading a gift guide is almost like learning a new language. They recommend gifts like the “Mini Home” (which is not the same thing as a Tiny House) and Fingerlings (which are definitely not potatoes).

If “Holiday Gift Guides” don’t solve your problems, you can kick things up a notch by going straight for the “Ultimate Gift Guide.” It’s great to have all this help, but it makes me wonder why gift giving should be so hard in the first place.
Parenting is a good example of this. Parents spend a lifetime giving the gifts of love, encouragement, and time to their children. They provide for their children’s needs and give them opportunities for personal growth, like participation in sports, lessons, and special programs like YOBC. Each opportunity is a gift which requires a commitment of time, money, and effort from parents.
At YOBC we are committed to helping students develop their musical talent—but we can’t do it without the support of parents.
This holiday season, I want to thank parents for encouraging their children, providing them with private lessons, cheering them on during practice and concerts, getting them to rehearsals, giving them instruments, and   volunteering countless hours at YOBC. The gifts you give to your children every day make their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments possible.
—Colleen Sweetsir
YOBC Executive Director

Jennifer Montone: It All Started with Youth Orchestra

From winning the Paxman Young Horn Player of the Year Award in London at age 19 to receiving the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant at age 29, Jennifer Montone, principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has a resume filled with accolades. Was there a critical experience or turning point that launched her remarkable career? YOBC members won’t be surprised to hear her answer: “What really got me super into music was a youth orchestra,” says Montone.

In particular, she remembers having the opportunity to travel at age 13 with her older sister’s youth orchestra to Scotland. “The community aspect was great,” she recalls. “It’s so good for this age group to find a place where you belong.”

Today Montone is a world-acclaimed soloist, chamber musician and teacher. While performing takes up the bulk of her time, she finds coaching students at the Curtis Institute of Music “incredibly illuminating.” “They’re so talented and great, and they’re trying to figure out how to be an adult in this field—what they want and why they’re pursing it,” she says.

She’s also thrilled to work with the talented student musicians at YOBC, some of whom participated in a master class she gave in February 2017. Giving a master class—in which a student receives one-on-one instruction in front of a classroom audience—is uniquely challenging, says Montone. “You are trying to help the person in front of you but you also have an audience that you want to engage,” she points out. “You need to talk broadly enough so that other people find it relevant.”

Teaching has a profound influence on her own playing, says Montone. “When I’m at a plateau, I try to use the things I tell my students,” she explains. That’s right—even Montone gets stalled out. “It happens cyclically,” she says. “It may be the nature of the field, as it would be with anything where you are striving with single-minded focus.” Her advice to students is to surround themselves with support. “I’m very close with my high school teacher, and I try to keep in touch with people who have known me a long time,” says Montone. “That deep love and understanding is powerful.”

She also advocates taking a break during practice. “When I have a lot of negative talk in my head, I stop and take care of myself. And I remind myself that I did the best that I could do today.”

On March 11, 2018, Montone will perform the Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 with YOBC’s Symphony Orchestra at Delaware Valley University. This 19th century piece has been described as one of the most challenging works for the horn, using the highest and lowest notes in the instrument’s register in rapid succession. To play it, Montone has said, “I have to get in the mindset of nobility and joy and just bravery and the festive nature of this piece. It’s such a pleasure to listen to and to play.”

Student Spotlight: Ethan Crowell

Ethan Crowell is a sixth grader at Goodnoe Elementary School. When he was three, he went to an arts camp called Burn Brae Day Camp in Dresher, Pennsylvania. At the camp Ethan tried a lot of different things, and decided he loved playing musical instruments such as the “wonderful violin.” At the camp, the violin Ethan used was tiny. “It was adorable,” he says. From then on, he has loved the instrument and has been playing it for eight years so far.

Ethan has some older friends who were in YOBC a few years ago, and he heard about the group from them. “I thought it would be a good experience, so I tried out,” he says. “I was nervous, because it was my first time auditioning for something, and I was really excited when I found out that I made it in!”

Ethan is also in the Council Rock District Orchestra and loves playing his instrument there, at YOBC, in the regular school orchestra, and at home. He has also been playing trombone for three years now for his school band.

“When I’m not playing the violin or trombone, I’m usually singing, playing piano, banging on a homemade drum set, or just playing with sound in general.” Ethan’s parents said
that when he was younger, if they wanted him to learn something important, they would sing it to him and he would never forget it. “Music is really important to me,” he explains.
Ethan also loves using technology to help create songs. He uses MuseScore, a free composition application that helps you compose. It also helps you create and print really good-looking sheet music from your musical inventions.
Besides making music, one of Ethan’s other favorite things to do is gymnastics. He is on the High Performance Gymnastics Training Center team in Chalfont in level 4. The team competes in different states, and Ethan competes in all of the events, including parallel bars, high bar, floor, pommel horse (“my favorite”), rings, and vault. Ethan’s dad, Ryan, says, “I would say that Ethan is upside down about half of the time we see him, doing handstands, flips, etc.” He came in first place in his division in the pommel horse and third place in his division overall at a recent meet in York.
In the future, Ethan wants to be a zoologist or an entomologist who takes care of and studies animals. He has been studying and raising butterflies for the last several years by finding their host plants, waiting for the caterpillars to show up, nursing them through the transition to butterfly stage, watching them lay eggs, and starting all over.
This year, at the fall YOBC concert something crazy happened to Ethan. “My D string totally unwound during our first song on stage for some reason. I had to fake using the string and continue playing like nothing was wrong. I want to let everyone know that it’s OK if your strings get out of tune or if something else goes wrong—don’t worry because Mr. Oettle can fix it! He quickly retuned my instrument between songs and the show went on. Though you may be nervous, you can still play, so keep that in mind.”