MESSAGE FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR
There is a need
for the non-professional orchestra in each community. Hundreds of persons
who studied a musical instrument as youngsters have achieved a high level
of proficiency and wish to continue playing and/or improving their skills—i.e.
for decades the New York City and Long Island schools have trained many
student in band and orchestra instruments. The fact that as adults these
people wish to spend their leisure time making music is by itself an indication
that the school system’s instrumental music education has been successful.
For those who reach a high level of proficiency and wish to pursue music
as an avocation, there should be a music organization available to them.
As the title of
John Holt’s book indicates it’s Never Too Late. Many individuals come to
an instrument late in life, it comes a s a means to fulfill a lifelong
urge to be creative, or to fill what seems to be a void of time as one
approaches mid-life and later retirement. There is no longer the need to
say, “if only I had when I was young…
The QFO/FHSO offers
an invaluable service to the community at large. We do not turn anyone
away from membership and encourage him or her to improve. We offer a program
that I of interest and of value to both senior citizens as well as students.
Music is chosen from several points of view: (A) level of difficulty to
challenge and encourage without swamping, (B) orchestra member and audience
interest in playing and hearing the selections. The most important factor
is the feeling of accomplishment and success!
The QFO/FHSO has
had players as young as 9 years and as old as 92. We have had handicapped
musicians. Physical, visual, even aural problems should not be an excuse
to not participate in making music. Each as brought something of value
to the organization. Each enriches the other crossing the age barrier through
common goals with anticipation, enthusiasm, commitment, satisfaction, and
dedication. The camaraderie and mutual support push personal problems and
aches and pains away for, if only, a few hours.
In recent years,
articles based on gerontology studies indicate that playing a musical instrument
can not only improve mental ability, but also in advancing age keep the
mind young and vital. Old age maladies such as Alzheimer’s disease can
be positively affected. Playing a musical instrument uses more centers
of the brain than almost any other activity one can participate in during
the average day.
This program has
the possibility of giving more meaning to the participant’s lives than
anything else they may have done in the lives!
Many symphony orchestras
have been created for the past 50 years as “community” orchestras—for non-professional
players. In their search for greater funding each of these amateur symphonies
have been advised to become more professional, thereby turning the community
player aside. Budgets as a rule become gigantic and the board of directors
fundraising abilities are tax to the extreme. As a result, the failures
to private individuals and businesses, large and small, for their funding
possibilities. On a small scale this is possible. As problems occur in
the larger community (small or catastrophic) many sources of financial
aid have given their art monies to agencies, organization, or consortiums
to distribute these funds elsewhere which cut into the fundraising prospects
of the smaller, less able arts organizations. When grants are considered,
whether they come from the Federal, State, County, or City sources, or
from the Consortiums or Co-sponsorships, they are for special projects
above and beyond the fiscal budget, but not for general fiscal maintenance.
This puts the small groups at a disadvantage because extra projects and
programs are a physical, financial, and programming drain on all the resources
of the group. For the performing group, the project may be beyond the technical
abilities of the group and the talents of the individual members. Financially,
a grant never pays the full amount of the project putting the organization
deeper into debt. Non-profit groups need basic fiscal funding before special
projects should be considered.
The AFO/FHSO offers
a service to the community at large. We do not turn anyone away from membership
and encourage them to improve. As our charter states, we are educational.
We offer a program that is of interest and of value to both senior citizens
as well as students. This program is enjoyed by the musicians in the orchestra
as well as by the community of senior citizens and students who come as
an audience. We work ten weeks for each of three concerts a year from Labor
Day to early June. Extra concerts with less than then preparations is not
feasible. Forcing us to hire more musicians for a concert only causes resentment
and ill feeling among the regular unpaid players. Requiring the organization
to play more difficult or newly composed music places a burden on the musical
tastes of the players and audience. In the long run, all these funding
ideas do not improve the symphony and effectively build the membership.
Budget m maintenance is the most important item to be faced by the organization.
A program which will not be discussed here for lack of space but which
will cost a large among of money and long term funding commitment is being
worked on. It will further our educational service and stabilize our musical
In the meantime,
the utmost question to be faced is, how can we maintain our basic budgetary
needs? Is there financial aid, grants, gifts for budget maintenance from
Federal, State, County, and City sources as well as foundations, businesses,
and private individuals for budget maintenance to ensure that this type
of organization can continue to serve the community or musicians who are
looking for a symphony to play in and the local public who wants to hear
that symphony of friends play.