On Assignment | Kids’ Orchestra | 225

One of the biggest excitements in my early life was anticipating violin lessons.

Yes, I realize this sounds a little strange, but bear with me. My sister and I are youngest members of our family on both sides, so growing up, we were surrounded by older cousins who got to do cool things. (Or cool things by our standards as little kids.)

Alana Kyser, 10, plays the recorder during the Kids Orchestra practice at Capitol Elementary on Wed., Nov. 16, 2011. The children are learning to play the recorder, the drums on paint buckets and the violin. (Erin Parker)

Alana Kyser, 10, plays the recorder during the Kids' Orchestra practice at Capitol Elementary on Wed., Nov. 16, 2011. The children are learning to play the recorder, the drums on paint buckets and the violin. (Photo by Erin Parker / 225)

My aunt owns a music store in Memphis, and my sister and I followed her three children – our cousins – into classic music lessons.

When I was five years old, I got my first violin. I learned my first song. I played my first recital. And as I grew older, I continued to play, memorizing all kinds of classical music. (That I can still recite to this day.) My sister also started taking lessons. And between our piano-playing cousin, our other two violinist cousins and us, we had a fantastic little group to play at various events throughout the year, including playing Christmas carols at our church and playing at various weddings.

My violin career finally came to a stop when my time balance between after school sports and music became strained in high school. And while I am no longer taking lessons, I still appreciate and love what I learned while taking violin.

In November, I was informed of a group here in Baton Rouge bringing music into the schools and teaching students of different ages and backgrounds instruments. I spent a few practice sessions with the group – led by volunteers, some of whom have musical backgrounds and other who don’t – and got the opportunity to document children learning to love music.

Kids’ Orchestra is a unique program in Baton Rouge, and I am honored that I had the chance to spend so much time photographing their practice sessions.

This semester marks Kids’ Orchestra’s second semester in the schools, and I am excited to see where this program takes kids involved with it.

To read Jeff Roedel’s cover story on Kids’ Orchestra, check out Orchestrating Lives.

To read more about Raul Gomez, an acclaimed international conductor and a visionary volunteer, who works with the Kids’ Orchestra, read Meet the Maestro.

To learn more about Kids’ Orchestra and to get involved, head on over to their website.

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