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Greenville County Youth Orchestra helps students find joy in music

Detaching from phones, computers and video games after school might be painful for some teens, but immersion in music can help them find joy and passion that can last a lifetime.

The Greenville County Youth Orchestra is one arts opportunity that helps young people hone their skills and develop community.

“The Greenville County Youth Orchestra started back in the 1970s,” said Holly Caprell, executive director of Greenville County Youth Orchestras. “It was the after-school orchestra for the Greenville County School District.”

While GCYO is still the district’s after-school orchestra, a large portion of its funding now comes from donors to the nonprofit. About 300 students, most in grades 6 – 12, participate in GCYO’s five orchestras. Students come from public, private and home schools.

“The five orchestras are leveled,” Caprell said. “Our top group, the Young Artist Orchestra, is a fine group. They easily play on a college level.”

Students progress from beginners, who are typically sixth graders but may be younger, through high school depending on their individual level of commitment. Students can get involved by starting with an audition. This year, younger levels will audition on June 1, while older, more advanced musicians will audition May 4 and 5.

Extra-curricular activities can be a burden on families, but GCYO makes every effort to keep this one as easy as possible.

“Any kind of music is expensive for kids and parents,” Caprell said. “We do provide scholarships both for fees to participate and also for private lessons for kids that really show a drive to excel, if the parents can’t do that.”

Last year, GCYO was able to provide nearly $10,000 for camps and lessons.

“The over-said adage of ‘it takes a village’ really is true,” Caprell said.

Busy families benefit from the fact that rehearsals and performances are only during the school year, and rehearsals for all orchestras are weekly on Mondays at the Fine Arts Center, Wade Hampton High School and League Academy. Performances are held at the Peace Center.

Learn more about performances and applications for upcoming auditions at