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NYO-USA: A Parent's View

David Alexander, a horn player form Houston, Texas, has a special fan in the audience during the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America’s tour of China this summer. His father, David Alexander Sr., finds himself on a business trip in China and will be able to see a few of the orchestra’s concerts. Below, David’s father reflects on NYO-USA from the perspective of a parent.

David Alexander, Sr.
Father of NYO-USA Horn Player David Alexander

I was fortunate to be able to combine a work trip with the NYO-USA tour of China and will have the opportunity to see the orchestra’s performances in Beijing and Hong Kong in addition to the concert at Carnegie Hall.

I would not recommend walking in Beijing in July wearing a shirt, tie, and jacket. My moo goo was gai panned, well and truly steamed before I even got to the venue. I made the concert with five minutes to spare and was suitably rewarded. As I am sure you are not surprised to hear, the kids were fantastic even though there were a few yawns circulating the stage. This is a whirlwind tour with lots of cultural events, a 12-hour time difference, and lots of hard work, so it is truly amazing that they can perform to such a high level just two days after landing in China.

NYO David Alexander at Consulate
David Alexander, Jr. celebrating the start of NYO-USA's tour at the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York City

My 16-year-old son, David, is one of the French horn players and seems to be thriving with this group of incredibly talented young musicians. When he was first selected for the orchestra, he couldn’t keep the smile off his face. He was so excited over the next few days that he almost forgot to send in his acceptance! The opportunity to play with some of the best young musicians in the country, learn from some of the best professionals in the world, play at Carnegie Hall (Practice, practice, practice!) and then to tour China would be beyond belief if I were not witnessing it with my own eyes.

This will be the first time David has played the same repertoire in multiple concerts in close succession. When coupled with the “touring” aspect, this provides a rare firsthand look into the professional orchestra experience and is invaluable as he starts to prep for college auditions and thinks about a career in music. It is only worth the effort if it is a true passion. What has amazed me and my wife about our son, and I am sure this is an observation shared by all of the parents, is how much he loves music and performance. When he was first “allocated” the French horn in 6th-grade band, I was sure it was only because he was first in the alphabet, while he claimed it was because he could buzz well. In the intervening six years he has buzzed his way to the experience of a lifetime.

While we tend to focus on the performances and the talent of the orchestra, equally important are the bonds of friendship and camaraderie that are being formed. When David talks about his fellow musicians in NYO-USA, as well as in the other music programs he has attended in the past, he talks mostly about how well everyone gets along, how willing everyone around him is to help each other, and how much fun they all have. This, to me, is even more important than the music.

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

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