Fairbanks Youth Orchestras Handbook

The Fairbanks Youth Orchestras operate under the auspices of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

Statement of Purpose

To provide an opportunity for students to participate in symphony orchestra activities;
To foster community awareness and support for music and related cultural activities, particularly string and symphonic programs;
To supplement the school music programs and to provide an opportunity for students to play music that is more demanding than that usually performed in school groups; and
To provide training and experience in preparation for possible membership in the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra.

Read descriptions of Orchestras


Musicians up to Senior year of High School are eligible to audition for Fairbanks Youth Orchestras. Placement and seating in ensembles are decided exclusively by the conductors.


All musicians must audition once each year. Auditions are in late August or early September at the University of Alaska Music Department. Audition information is available in August through the website, or an FYO council member. Musicians are notified with the results of their auditions as soon as possible. Limited auditions are available in January for new players. Students who audition after the designated period may be seated in the back of their sections.

Seating Policy

Seating in all sections of the orchestra will be determined by the conductors. The conductor may change the seating arrangement at any time and all decisions of the conductors regarding seating are final.

Seating in the String Orchestra is based on the following considerations: Music reading ability, physical comfort (musician’s size), and balance of sound. Overall the objective is to foster a cooperative atmosphere in which every student feels important.

Youth Symphony and Concert Orchestra: Seating in all sections of the orchestras will be determined by the conductor, who will base his or her decisions on the musicians’ live auditions.

Moving to the Next Orchestra Level

Please consider the following questions with your musician, his or her private instructor, and the conductor about possibly moving to the next orchestra level:

  • Has your musician expressed an interest in moving to a new ensemble?
  • Is it apparent that he or she is not being challenged?
  • Has the musician’s personal initiative matured such that he/she will be able to assume the increasing responsibilities that come with participation in the more advanced orchestra (i.e., longer rehearsal time, larger sections, and older peer group?)
  • Have their music reading and technical skills matured to the level required for the more advanced orchestra?
  • Is your musician committed to other activities? Will he or she or be able to devote the time needed for the more advanced orchestra requirements?

Requests to move during the orchestra year will rarely be considered; however, it is at the discretion of the conductors.


Rehearsals for all ensembles take place on Saturday mornings at the UAF Music Department.

Conductors ask that students arrive at rehearsal at least fifteen minutes early. All musicians are expected to help set up and take down chairs and stands for their ensembles. If a musician needs to leave early, they need to let the conductor know prior to rehearsal starting or at a break time. All groups have a break time. There will be occasional conflicts with rehearsal locations, so please ask your musician for current information and check your email. All FYO musicians receive a folder and music that must be returned in good condition at the close of the season. Musicians who do not return their folders and music will be charged a $30 replacement fee. Musicians are expected to practice their parts regularly. Every member should bring mutes to rehearsals if parts require them. Students should carry maintenance materials such as rosin, corck, valve grease and spare parts such as reed or strings at all times and bring a pencil to each rehearsal.

Cold Weather Policy

Rehearsal will be cancelled if the temperature given at the FYO website at 8:00 a.m. on Sat. is –35 degrees F or lower.


Cash, check and credit cards (VISA and MasterCard) are accepted. Credit card installments are an option. We are pleased to continue our FYO Tuition Fee Assistance program for families in financial need. Applications will be available during auditions.

Scholarships and Grants

- The FYO Tuition Fee-Assistance Program covers orchestra participation fees to encourage players to join FYO who otherwise might not be able to for financial reasons. Applications are available at the time of the auditions. Parents should pay part of the fee and the grant may cover the balance.

- Private Lessons Grants are offered when FYO funds allow for musicians in need to help cover the cost of private lessons. Applicants who are chosen to receive a grant are given a set amount of money to use for private lessons only. Applications are available in the spring. The application can be found on the FYO website during the years that scholarship funds are available.


FYO hosts one or two formal recitals to showcase student talent. All FYO musicians are encouraged to perform. Both solo and chamber music selections are welcome on the program. Because these recitals must take place in a limited amount of time, applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The families of the performers are asked to contribute refreshments to the receptions following recitals if located at the Noel Wein Library. Students will be notified about sign up information for the recital through email. Any appropriate outfit may be worn.

Additional recital opportunities are offered for FYO members through a series of outreach recitals at the care facilities in Fairbanks, usually at Raven's Landing, Pioneer’s Home and Denali Center. FYO provides a piano accompanist for all outreach recitals.  Representatives will be chosen and their contact numbers made available in September.


It is very important to attend all rehearsals and concerts. Musicians should notify their conductor about absences as far in advance as possible. Contact information can be found in the back of the handbook. Musicians are allowed two excused absences per semester. Missing more than two rehearsals may jeopardize the musician’s seating in the orchestra. If a large number of players expect to be absent at one time, the rehearsal may be cancelled.


Orchestra members should keep in mind that they are guests at UAF or at any other facility used and need to respect the facilities. Safety and appropriate conduct are expected from all members. Playing in an excellent orchestra demands dedication and enthusiasm from everyone. Students must show respect for their conductors at all times. Cooperation is key to success, and courtesy, respect, and consideration for others are essential.

Parental Involvement

Parental help is needed for Saturday morning rehearsals, concert receptions and fundraisers. You will receive FYO news via email. Announcements are often made at rehearsals, so check with your child each week. Parents are welcome to attend rehearsals.


FYO presents two annual concerts in the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall. The first concert is in December and the second one is in May. All members of the orchestras must perform in these concerts. Families of FYO members are asked to bring finger food or juice for the reception following the Winter and Spring Concerts.

Youth Symphony Members Only: We perform at the International Friendship Day Celebration  in October at Pioneer Park. All members of the Youth Symphony must be available for this annual performance.  There will two additional concerts per year (one per semester) with details to be announced as available.

Concert Dress

String Orchestra - "Sunday Best" clothes of any color are appropriate.

Concert Orchestra - Girls should wear white top and black bottoms, black hose or tights and black shoes. Boys should wear a white shirt, black dress pants, black shoes and socks, and a dark tie.

Youth Symphony - Boys wear a black shirt with a black dress suit, shoes and socks. Girls wear all black: mid-calf length or longer skirts or long pants with black hose and shoes. Shirts should be three -quarter length sleeves or longer, no bare midsection. Modesty is the standard.


The Fairbanks Youth Orchestras are partially funded through donations and participation fees. The remainder of funding is earned throughout the year from various fundraising events such as coat check during the Fairbanks Symphony Organization concerts, Barnes and Noble book fair and gift wrapping events and sales of t-shirts, stickers and other FYO merchandise. Parental help is always needed for these events. If you have any ideas for FYP fundraising events and are willing to put some time into making them happen, please contact a council member.

Youth Orchestras Council

The council is a board consisting of about 9 adults and 2 student members. It is responsible for the smooth functioning of all three orchestras. The members are always receptive to ideas and suggestions, and they appreciate help. Their goal is to make FYO an enjoyable and enriching experience.

Council meetings are held on the first Saturday of each month from 10:00am to noon.  All meetings are open to the public.

There are currently vacant positions on the council. If you are interested in serving on the council, please contact one of the council members.

Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra

Jenni Warren
FSO Executive Director
PO Box 82104
Fairbanks, AK. 99708