CYSO Grads Offer Wisdom & Advice

At the end of every season, we ask our outgoing seniors to impart a bit of wisdom to our new and returning CYSO students. By the time a student reaches the end of their CYSO career, they’ve acquired quite a bit of experience both with their instrument and as an orchestral player. We asked this year’s graduating seniors to share their best advice for a new CYSO student. With answers ranging from practical to poetic, these seniors as clearly the experts.

What advice would you give to a new CYSO student?

Don’t be afraid and don’t question the fact that you deserve to be in CYSO! It can be scary to make friends at first and even more difficult to play at your best if you’re worried that other people might be more advanced than you or already have friends in the orchestra. Even if they do, that’s okay—you always have the chance to improve and your peers will welcome you as their friend if you only give yourself the chance to take a step forward.

Gloria Baek, Symphony Orchestra

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the practices and procedures of a more professional orchestral setting so that you don’t get caught off guard. And enjoy your time playing with great musicians, playing challenging repertoire, and pushing yourself.

Tanner Carlson-Huber, Philharmonic Orchestra

It’s all a new learning experience. You can spend as much time as you want being nervous, but if you just play your best and always have confidence in yourself, you will grow!

Alec Fiden, Jazz Orchestra

Ask about anything and everything! The staff and conductors aren’t as scary as they may seem—they’re always looking to help and to share their knowledge with us. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for literally anything, whether it’s music recommendations, practice advice, or even just life advice in general.

Athena Deng, Symphony Orchestra

Your musical ability and passion are not defined by your seat in the orchestra!! Even if you are last chair, there is still music to learn and concerts to prepare for. Don’t let a bad audition deter you from having a fulfilling season. Have a pencil out during rehearsal, enjoy the maestros’ brilliance, and mingle with others during breaks! You are still important to the balance of the ensemble. Seeing your name at the bottom of the audition results sheet might be disappointing, but it is NOT the end all be all. Playing in an orchestra is about playing together. Everyone knows that you are at CYSO because you put your effort and love into music.

Henry Park, Symphony Orchestra

Take some time to get to know the music you’re playing. From there, you can build a real connection with the piece. The more you play, the more you internalize, and the more you enjoy practicing.

Yaseen Qureshi, Symphony Orchestra

Making friends with people who play the same instrument as you is nice, but it’s really cool to learn what other sections play too. Also, even if the maestro is not talking to your section, listen to what they’re saying; you can often stand to learn from what they’re telling another section and can apply it to your own playing.

Samantha Irwin , Kaiso Steel and Philharmonic Orchestra

Enjoy the time you have here because the experiences are so valuable, but the time flies by so fast!

Nicole Moravec, Philharmonic Orchestra


Marisa LinMarisa Lin is a violinist soon to be in CYSO’s Concert Orchestra and rising junior at Lyons Township High School. Marisa wrote this post as part of her role as CYSO’s Summer 2023 Marketing Intern. When she’s not practicing, you can find Marisa developing new recipes for her baking blog or taking goofy pictures of her dog.

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