We offer group strings classes from beginner to advanced, orchestra ensembles, group piano, and music production.
Registration is open for the 2023-2024 year! Sign up here!
Information about class tuition and instrument rental fees.
Find out about our scholarship program. We want every child to have an opportunity to study music.
We offer low-cost, quality rentals to our students. We also take care of school-owned instruments for some of our school-based programs.
Read here for information about indicators of a child's readiness to study stringed instruments in a group setting. We find that 3rd-4th grade is about right for many children.
The heart of our program, the AYO Music Center was established in 2021, and is located next to Browsers Bookstore here in Albany! Here, we offer many classes, including our orchestra classes, piano, choir and Pre-k music classes. We also offer orchestra classes at many local schools, including North Albany Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, and South Shore Elementary.
Oct. 2 FIRST DAY OF CLASS
Nov. 10 NO CLASS (Veteran's Day observed)
Nov. 23-24 NO CLASS (Thanksgiving break)
Dec. 18-Jan. 1 NO CLASS (Winter break)
Jan. 15 NO CLASS (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
March 25-29 NO CLASS (Spring break)
May 24, 2023 LAST DAY OF CLASS
**NOTE: the classes held on school campuses will not take place on no-school days such as grading days and conferences. Classes held at the AYO Music Center will take place on these district no-school days. GAPS Academic Calendar.
We teach students in group classes of 8-25 students. Students must be 3rd grade or higher. Classes include violins, violas, cellos and basses all together unless otherwise noted. Each level goes for eight months (October-May) and new students are accepted only at the beginning of the year. Most classes are before or after school.
For 2023-2024, we have classes before and after school at North Albany Elementary (music room), Oak Grove Elementary (music room), South Shore Elementary (music room), and our AYO Music Center at 1405 Pacific Blvd next to Browsers' Bookstore in Albany.
For students 3rd grade and above who are just starting out, and for students who want to strengthen and improve their skills before advancing to the Level 2 class. Due to high demand in some schools, 3rd graders will be accepted on a space available basis.
Using the first Essential Elements for Strings book, you will learn the basics of playing your instrument, from correct posture to how to hold the bow, to forming notes on the fingerboard. Learning how to read music is introduced once students learn the basics of playing the instrument. Daily study of the class material at home is necessary to acquire the skills needed to play well.
For students who have successfully completed Level 1 and are ready for new challenges. Using the second book in the Essential Elements for Strings series, you will finish learning the notes on the fingerboard in first position and playing in several different keys. Other techniques include more advanced slurring, complex rhythms, and a variety of time signatures. Students who complete Level 2 successfully are ready to join Junior Orchestra to learn ensemble playing.
Level 3 class is for students who have successfully completed Level 2. Using the third book in the Essential Elements for Strings series, we will continue position work, advanced bowing techniques, and more challenging ensemble playing. The techniques learned in Level 3 are essential to preparing for Chamber Orchestra.
We have two large string ensembles for our students. These include violins, violas, cellos, and upright basses, and each instrument plays a different part. These ensembles complement our group classes by focusing on ensemble playing skills such as listening to other instruments, playing differing notes and rhythms confidently, and following a conductor.
We have a 2 for 1 deal for our ensembles. Students who are enrolled in Level 2 or Level 3 can join JO or CO for free!
In Junior Orchestra, students learn and develop ensemble playing skills and continue to advance their technical skills on their instrument. NO AUDITION is required to join this group, but you need to have skills equivalent to those acquired in Level 2 to be able to play the music in this group. If you can understand and play most of the level 2 book at a slow pace, you would be ready for Junior Orchestra. Follow the link for a sample of the music. Conductor: Jasmine Lumpkin.
Tuesdays 6:30-8:00pm at AYO Music Center
Chamber Orchestra is for the most advanced players. The repertoire is challenging and FUN. Players must have prior ensemble experience in a group such as Junior Orchestra. An audition is required to join. Auditions are on Thursday, Sept. 28th from 6:30-8:00pm. All players must audition each year for placement. Conductor: Cari Howat.
Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm at AYO Music Center
Our piano classes go through the whole school year, from October through May. These classes provide great piano instruction and advancement. All sheet music is provided. Books are not provided and must be purchased. We will be doing solo music pieces, as well as book work. Classes are 45 minutes, once a week, at the AYO Music Center at 1405 Pacific Blvd.
Instruments are provided during class, but students will need to have their own keyboard at home for practicing on. There are many affordable and adequate keyboards available. Please make sure the instrument has full-size keys and at least 61 keys total (of a possible 88 for a full-size keyboard).
Intro to Piano
Learn to read music and play with each hand on the piano! Various grade levels.
AYO Beginning Piano (3rd-6th grade)
For students who know how to read piano music and play with both hands.
Accelerated Beginning Piano (7th-12th grade)
A beginning piano class for older students.
Engage in the world of music through choir! Learn vocal technique through classical and traditional folk songs. Class is held at the AYO Music Center. All sheet music provided.
Sing and learn rhythms in a musically enriching environment! Taught seamlessly in both Spanish and English with songs in both languages. For kids 3-5 years old. Class is held at the AYO Music Center. Cost: $10 per session, schedule and pay monthly.
You can choose to prepay the whole year, by semester, or be billed monthly.
Strings and Choir Classes (meet twice a week)
Junior and Chamber Orchestra Ensembles (meet once a week)
$72 per month tuition ($288/semester, $576/year)
Group Piano Classes (meet once a week)
$48 per month tuition ($192/semester, $384/year)
Pre-K Music Classes (3-5yrs)
$10 per session, schedule and pay monthly
$24 per month ($96/semester, $192/year)
We believe that music should be available to every child, regardless of that child's current family resources. Our scholarships are funded by generous donations from Gerald and Margery Koll, major supporters of Albany Youth Orchestra and music education, and by many other individuals who believe in the power of music for children. The standard scholarship provides a 50% discount on tuition and rental fees, and extended scholarships may be available for those with greater financial need. The scholarship applies for the current school year September-August, including the summer session. Scholarships are awarded to those demonstrating financial need and a motivation to learn.
Families who receive assistance such as free and reduced lunches, Oregon Trail/SNAP/WIC, and Oregon Health Plan automatically qualify for our scholarship. Other qualifying conditions include major changes in employment, family healthcare challenges, COVID impacts, and family income under 300% of federal poverty guidelines, as well as other possible conditions. The request for financial assistance is contained in our class registration form. Please reach out to us -- we are here to help your child get the music education they want!
We have quality rental instruments available to our students for very affordable rates. All of our rental instruments are the same price to help make sure the cost of a particular instrument, such as cello or bass, is not a barrier to a child's choice. We encourage you to rent rather than buy low-quality instruments, at least until your child is ready for a full-size instrument.
We also manage the school instruments that are used in our programs. These are the same kind of high-quality instruments in our own rental program.
Stay tuned for more information about picking up your rental or school instrument in late September.
When you register for class and indicate that you will be using a school or AYO instrument, you will sign a contract stating that you are responsible for your instrument. Please tell your instructor immediately if something breaks. You will need to pay for replacing or repairing the instrument or bow. We do many repairs in-house to keep costs down, but be aware that the standard replacement cost for a violin or viola is $200 and a cello is $600. If you break a string, you will need to purchase a replacement string.
Bows which are dropped or overtightened and snap off the tips will need to be replaced. Bows regularly "shed" a few of the horsehairs, but if you break most of the hair, you will need to pay for a replacement bow from AYO, which ranges in price from $20-$40 depending on instrument and size.
Please contact us about repairs for our instruments. We will do our best to get the most affordable repair done. If you rent an instrument from a music store, you must take it to that store for repair.
Because most elementary students play on smaller-sized instruments, we recommend that you rent rather than purchase an instrument until the child has grown into a full-sized instrument.
We recommend purchasing only from a reputable music store or dealer. Expect to budget at least $300 for a violin or viola and $600 for a cello. Quality used instruments can be found, but they should be checked out by a knowledgeable repair person or a teacher before you purchase. We are happy to recommend local and online resources if you contact us!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not purchase the cheap instrument outfits found at major online and retail stores and at fairs, eBay, Facebook marketplace, etc (i.e. violins/violas for $30-$100 or cellos under $300). There are too many brand names to list. Most are not even playable due to poor quality and improper setup, you will spend more than what you bought it for to have someone make it playable, and these instruments have zero trade-in or resale value. In addition, your child may acquire poor playing habits trying to avoid bad sounds that are the fault of the instrument.
Our program is open to children beginning in third grade. Traditional orchestra programs often start in fourth grade. Many children have acquired skills by third grade that they need to succeed in orchestra class, but some children acquire them later, even into fourth or fifth grade. Many fine musicians didn’t start until sixth or seventh grade. Here are some characteristics of children who are “ready” for orchestra:
Obviously, that would be the mythical perfect child, and we understand that kids are kids. However, if a child is still just developing several of the “ready” characteristics, we recommend waiting a year and reassessing. If a child is having difficulty consistently managing behavior and following directions, we may ask the parent to attend class.
We want to emphasize that our program is open to ALL students, not only the highest achievers!! Music has been proven to improve learning skills while providing an enriching personal and social experience. We ask parents of children who benefit from educational assistance at school to talk to us about what helps your child learn. Due to privacy laws, the school cannot release information unless the parents authorize it. It has been our experience that the accommodations that help a few students are often beneficial to many others as well.
Mid-Valley Prelude Sinfonia is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide affordable strings education to youth in the greater Albany area. Mid-Valley Prelude Sinfonia receives support from the Oregon Arts Commission, a state agency funded by the State of Oregon and the National Endowment for the Arts and is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon's arts, humanities and heritage and by the Linn County Cultural Coalition.