Playing for Keeps 

Playing for Keeps is a unique and comprehensive music education project which was initiated in 2001 by the Oregon East Symphony Board of Directors and reaches 1500 youth in our region annually. Ten programs make up the Playing for Keeps project.

The goals of the project are:
  • To help rural young people gain access to new cultural opportunities.
  • To forge new alliances between  OES and local school districts.
  • To give young people who cannot afford musical instruction and/or instruments a chance to participate in music lessons, rehearsal and performance.
  • To develop a new awareness concerning the role of a community orchestra and chorus in the cultural health of Eastern Oregon.

Music Groups
Specific information on schedules and forms for the education programs may be found here.

A Sharp Players - This preparatory orchestra is open to intermediate musicians of any age and gives  participants the opportunity to experience performing with a large ensemble. This program is directed by Bruce Walker, Assistant Conductor of the Oregon East Symphony.

Preludes - The Preludes string orchestra is open to beginning to intermediate string musicians of any age who can read music.  Lisa Robertson  and Loree Tucker-McKenna are the instructors

Symphony Strings Program-Fourth and fifth graders meet twice weekly after school to learn a string instrument. The program functions in cooperation with Pendleton School District, which provides busing and facilities for the students.   Lisa Robertson is Head Teacher along with three adult teachers, an adult volunteer and six high school students who are hired as assistant instructors.

Starting Strings Sooner - This is a Suzuki Strings instruction program for Kindergarten through third grades.  Classes meet twice weekly as Level I (K - 1st grades) and Level 2 (2nd-3rd grades).  These are taught by Lisa Robertson at the OES office. 

Additional Programs

Music Lesson Scholarships & Instrument Loan Program - Students are supported in the study of their chosen instrument through a fund that helps with the cost of music lessons and instrument rental.  In addition, beginning string players have access to appropriate-sized instrument loans on a need-basis.

Student Stipends
- Young people who perform with the symphony are provided with stipends and travel costs for each rehearsal and concert that they participate in.

Raising the Bar - A mentorship program in which highly skilled members of the orchestra are paired with student players.  Mentors provide training and support which facilitate the students' ability to participate in OES concerts

Tickets for Kids- During each concert season, OES distributes free regular season concert tickets to Umatilla and Morrow County youth through the public school system.

School Tours- As a supplement to the public school arts curriculum, OES musicians, guest artists, and singers arrange visits to area classrooms during the school year in order to deliver master classes, instrument demonstrations and ensemble performances.

Summer Music Camp - Each summer, a five-day camp features professional instruction and tutorials in a variety of musical disciplines and ends with a finale concert.  *There will be no summer music camp the summer of 2014.