I was very nervous when I first joined PYS. I had just moved to Phoenix and only barely knew one person in the orchestra. It’s definitely the best orchestra I’ve ever been in, and at the first rehearsal I felt intimidated. I was not used to being around so many great high school and middle school musicians. I did not even know where to sit, afraid there was already an assigned seating list I didn’t know about. I saw a girl without a stand partner and tentatively asked if I could sit with her. I told her I was new and didn’t know where I was supposed to sit. She enthusiastically told me that she was also new and that I could of course sit with her. I felt a bit more relaxed–until I found out that Kei would be rotating the seating throughout the rehearsal, meaning that I would eventually have to sit in the front.

But I soon realized that, although the talent of all these kids was intimidating at first, they certainly were not intimidating people. The orchestra is full of nice people who make rehearsal fun. And throughout my time in PYS, Kei’s seating arrangements have given me experience playing in so many different parts of the orchestra (including a bit in the wind and percussion sections during experimental rehearsals). It has taught me that it really does require different skills to be able to play in different parts of the orchestra, including leadership and the ability to play in time with the rest of the orchestra while sitting farther from the middle.

I have had such a great three years in PYS, and I know I will really miss it. We are so lucky to have such an amazing conductor as Kei at the podium. I’m so excited that I still have a few concerts left with PYS and Kei this summer in Germany! It is an amazing opportunity that I really look forward to!