NYLSO-New York Late Starters String Orchestra

My husband took up the violin 3 years ago, after having learned to read music and play the piano in his 40’s, dropping it, and starting up again in his 60’s. He took to the violin quickly, considering how difficult an instrument it is to play. You must read the music, place your fingers on the correct string, hold your bow correctly and in the proper place on the violin and then move the bow correctly in order to get a desired result. Read: no screeching noise. He continues to take lessons once a week. Unlike piano, the violin lends itself to playing with others, ones timing can be improved and the music itself is far richer when playing with other people and he has been looking for an opportunity to do so.

We discovered there is an “orchestra” in New York City specifically designed for “late starters”- those who learned to play a string instrument as an adult, or perhaps learned as a child and dropped it and resumed playing as an adult. They are called the New York Late Starters String Orchestra. There is no test to get in, everyone is welcome. They meet for 6 sessions in the fall and again in the spring. A selection (repertoire) of music was emailed before the sessions began. The music includes pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Enya, along with traditional songs like Greensleeves and Morning Has Broken. My husband decided to try it out and yesterday was his third session. The first hour is spent with real beginners who are given some instruction and helped with tempo and staying on key. The 2 hours after that a much larger group convenes along with a conductor and they play for 2 hours. The ages seemed to range from 30’s to 80. I attended with my husband and after the first session they asked if anyone knew someone who would be willing to take some photos for their Facebook page. My hand went up, as I was glad to have something to do during the 3 hours there besides just listening. I also have little experience with photographing people and was glad for the opportunity.

The group consists of violins, violas and cellos, and everyone comes together to play and enjoy playing with others. If you can’t keep up, take a break and sit it out, no one cares. If the sound is a little off key, it doesn’t matter. Not everyone comes every week, the faces change, the group anywhere from 20 to 30 people. The conductor leads and stops to go over things, to improve where the timing may be off, or to discuss the bowing, but there is never criticism. I found it awe inspiring to watch the orchestra in action, the uniting of this group of musicians coming together with their love of playing and determination to do so together. Music the great unifier.

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18 thoughts on “NYLSO-New York Late Starters String Orchestra

    • There is a level of comfort knowing they are all in basically the same boat, and he does stop playing if he feels he can’t keep up and doesn’t want to mess anyone else up- there is safety in numbers!


  1. What a great group to have for those who begin later in life and still want to be a part of something special. Good for him. I give him all the credit in the world. That’s a very tough instrument to play.


    • Thank you for the links- that was quite a listen- good for them!! Thanks for the compliment on the photos- I usually try to watch for things in the background of a photo messing up the photo- but in the close quarters of the studio it was hard to shoot without getting things I didn’t want in the background. I also found it helpful to stand on a chair to take in the whole room- figured they do it at weddings with a ladder to get the crowd!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome Lisa. Next it will be a step ladder to get the whole orchestra lol. Looking at the background is essential isn’t it? You are doing so well I am sure they are delighted with the results 🙂


  2. I need a LOVE button….this is so wonderful. Absolutely. I play in a community band, it’s similar, the faces change, not everyone comes to every rehearsal which frustrates our director, but still…we’re a bunch of people that used to play a long time ago and then stopped for years and now have the opportunity to play again. Sometimes we sound good. Sometimes we need to practice more. And sometimes it’s so beautiful that I tear up.

    But, to be able to learn a new instrument as an adult…that’s stunning. I always wanted to play cello, but there was no string program in my school. What an opportunity for your community, to give people the chance to try out their dreams. Amazing.


    • I remember you writing about playing Dawn- so you really know the feeling one gets from playing with a group. Now that you’re retired maybe you’ll try out that cello!! I have to say it is a beautiful instrument to listen to.


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