• Submitted by: The 10 Smiths

    Our story begins three years ago. Our then 12 year old son, joined the Flagler Youth Orchestra playing the cello. This was the instrument of his preference, although never having played one before. He began in Mr. Justin’s class, bringing with him 1 1/2 years of private keyboard instruction and a basic foundation in reading music. After being in his class through the first concert, he was able to advance to Mr. May’s orchestra. Under the guidance and instruction of Mr. Justin and Mr. May, Austin developed a desire for becoming a better cellist.

    The FYO program allowed for our son to utilize a scholarship instrument…which permitted him to get an instrument in his hands, that may not have otherwise happened. Over the course of time, his love for learning and diligence in practicing at home daily grew a desire to work toward investing in his own cello (which he was able to purchase this year). This county offers a program MANY other counties have cut over time due to budget deficits ~ what a blessing that our county stands behind the arts and desires for all students residing here to have opportunities to develop skills in music!

    What began with Mr. May’s desire to “light a fire” for loving music in his students and getting instruments into their hands, has grown into a “refining” under Mrs. Umbarger’s instruction of becoming the best instrumentalist possible: from the importance of how to properly handle the instrument to performance etiquette. We look forward to seeing this community grow in its embracing for raising up fine musicians…musicians that Flagler County can be proud of! Our family is thankful for the many opportunities that Austin’s participation in the Flagler Youth Orchestra has provided him, the “light” that was sparked early on through the obvious love for music and this program through the FYO staff and believe that any student who is willing to be diligent in their studies can achieve great things! We are thankful for the exposure to great composers, a variety of genres of music that some would not ever consider an orchestra being able to play and for friendships forged over these years through this program.