(Illustration by Reyna Yang)
Oak Park High School

High School Instrumental performance opportunities

Whether or not one plans to pursue music in college and beyond, programs beyond the classroom or private studio assist in sparking creative outlets, engaging the minds of young musicians to fashion a world anew, lighting up the stage with their shared passion for music. Ranging from local to international music programs, I have compiled a list of programs for any level of high school musician.

Ventura County Honor Band (VCHB) students in middle school and high school audition and prepare for a performance in February. Composers and professors from all over the nation serve as guest conductors at these rehearsals.

Various California Honor groups include the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association Honor Bands and Orchestras, California Band Directors Association State Honor Band/Orchestra, and California Orchestra Directors Association Honor Orchestras.

School conductors can assist students with recording auditions before mailing a packet in for the entire school, or by uploading the files online for these honor ensembles. All-Southern or All-State usually occurs over a weekend, so students may miss a couple of days of school in order to perform.


For those looking to enhance their musical education outside of a school setting with weekly rehearsals, local youth orchestras may be another option. With the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras (CVYO), students rehearse every Thursday for their concerts. CVYO Student Ambassadors can be found volunteering with the New West Symphony, and playing in their own quartets or ensembles at community events.

Downtown Los Angeles’s renowned Colburn School also has a phenomenal program for young artists, which rehearse on Wednesdays.

Students that may not be able to rehearse on weekdays also should consider the CSUN Youth Orchestras, with weekly Sunday rehearsals. CSUN Youth Orchestras perform three times a year.

The American Youth Symphony is also an alternative option for extremely advanced high school students, as most of the musicians in the ensemble are college students. For students that attended All-State the previous year, the NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles are a great way to perform more music and meet musicians from all over America.

Summer programs at Juilliard, Boston University (Tanglewood Institute), Curtis (Summerfest), and Berklee are also popular options for those considering these schools or conservatories; international music festivals are also choices to consider while making summer plans. Carnegie Hall’s very own National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America tours internationally during summer; other Carnegie Hall summer groups include the NYO2 and NYO Jazz programs. Materials are submitted through the online network Acceptd, but the audition materials and requirements are online. Young soloists could also the Appassionata Program with the Thousand Oaks PhilharmonicNational YoungArts Foundation competition, and The Music Center’s Spotlight program. Spotlight (Southern California only) and the National YoungArts Foundation offer scholarships and mentoring if accepted.

As audition season rolls into high gear, remember that your accomplishments (or results at a competition for that matter), do not define you. Take every audition, every solo opportunity and every result in stride, enjoying every moment, because high school goes quickly — before you know it, you’ll be in college! Take a deep breath and let those magical moments with friends on and off stage hang in the air before locking it into memory; remember that your personal soundtrack in life is unique. Break a leg!