Youth Rock Orchestra Brings Out Inner Rock Stars in Local Teens By Lindsay Irvin - 4/1/2010 Little Rock Family Staff
Locally, one organization – the Youth Rock Orchestra – is offering teens a modern musical opportunity that is educational and hip, and just might propel a number of them into a legitimate music career.

Rocking to a Different Beat The Youth Rock Orchestra is the brainchild of Heather Isbell, a former member of the Mark Wood Experience and co-owner of Izzy's Restaurant. In 2007, award-winning composer and former Trans-Siberian Orchestra violinist, Mark Wood brought his "Electrify Your Strings" program to Mills University Studies High School in Little Rock. Through the program, Wood taught the school's music students how to use their instruments (violin, viola, cello, or bass) in creative new ways. During this two-day workshop, the teens practiced "rock orchestra" techniques before performing a public concert with Wood and members of the Mark Wood Experience.

The students' enthusiasm compelled Isbell to apply for, and eventually receive, a grant to start a rock orchestra for Mills High School and Fuller Middle School music students. Twenty five students were a part of the inaugural Youth Rock Orchestra, but now the program accommodates more than 65 students in grades 8-12. Those 65 are mostly Mills and Fuller students, but string players from other public, private and home schools are welcome to audition.

Youth Rock Orchestra students aren't the stereotypical "band geeks." Instead of the matching jumpsuits and boxy hats, the young musicians are able to embrace their own styles on stage. They aren't marching on a football field or sitting on a stage. Instead, they are on their feet moving, dancing and entertaining the audience.

Joining the orchestra is easy. Here are the requirements:

• Participants must be 13 or older to try out and must attend 80 percent of rehearsals to perform in concerts.
• Rehearsals are from 4-6 p.m. every other Friday (depending on school schedules) at Mills University Studies High School
• Cost: Approximately $20/year to cover the expense of sheet music and sometimes there are extra charges for special workshops.
• For info:

Little Rock Family, Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved.