Catching a glimpse of the future

one year on in a youth string project

Anne M. Power, Sarah Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The provision of musical experiences for youth, especially in low socio-economic areas (SES), requires funded support and imaginative resourcing. This paper presents data from the Penrith (NSW Australia) Youth String Program offered in partnership by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), Penrith Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (The Joan) over a period commencing in 2015-2016. The current context for young musicians in the locality is one of inequitable distribution of educational resources and access to knowledge. Consequently, this research is framed by Opportunity to Learn theory. The program has been designed to encourage young string players in the Penrith area through a program of guided rehearsals and tutorials.
The evaluation plan incorporates the following data: student practice logs; and student, parent and tutor focus groups as well as site visit observations to capture information about the quality of program implementation. This paper reports on the research question:
What did the participants gain from their involvement in the program?
Findings demonstrate that the participants developed both skills in performance and expressive ensemble playing.
Implications are that the program has encouraged the students to be aware of their own progress and to develop personal goals, whether they are to play a challenging piece of music well or to imagine a future in professional music making. The impact of the carefully spaced rehearsals in the program, the combination of local and visiting tutors and the development of personal goals suggest avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian journal of music education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • youth orchestra
  • possible selves
  • informal learning
  • music
  • deliberate practice
  • opportunity to learn theory

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