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NYO-USA Reflections: Nothing to Lose

Applications for the 2015 season of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America are due on November 5, 2014, and are open to young musicians from throughout the United States. At first, Vermont native and 2014 NYO-USA member David Fickes didn’t think he had a shot at making the orchestra. He took a risk in applying and couldn’t believe when an acceptance email arrived in his inbox. More blogs from 2014 musicians are available here.


David Fickes NYO-USA rehearsal
David Fickes (left) rehearses with NYO-USA.

David Fickes, Violin:

I was walking down New York City’s Seventh Avenue when I overheard half of a phone conversation that went something like this:

“Look, I know what you’re hoping, but you have to remember the kind of kids who are playing in venues like Carnegie Hall have been forced to practice to the point where they never had a childhood and are now both incredibly narcissistic and neurotic.”

Having just come from an event at the hall, I naturally took a defensive stance. But then I realized something: This was the exact same attitude I held only a year ago. What caused this change? Participating in NYO-USA.

NYO-USA at Carnegie Hall 2 cr Chris Lee

Some back story would probably be helpful. I grew up in Vermont, where there always seemed to be an unspoken camaraderie among teenage musicians because we knew that, no matter how good we were by Vermont standards, there would always be kids in Boston, just a few hours away, with whom we could never hope to compete. Of course, as teenagers, we found the perfect way to cope with this perceived deficiency—the exact line of thinking that kept us from taking ourselves seriously as musicians. This line of thinking is also why I almost didn’t apply to NYO-USA.

The fact that I'm writing this blog post clearly proves that this way of thinking was flawed. My acceptance wasn’t just a fluke, either. I met so many musicians with incredible stories of how they got to where they are today, with a few even being self-taught.

So to everyone thinking about applying for NYO-USA in the next couple of weeks: Do it! I had a lot of doubts about myself, and so did many others. But none of us would have been accepted if we listened to those doubts, so give it a shot. You have nothing to lose!


Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

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