Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps is a comprehensive music education project that was initiated in 2001 by the Oregon East Symphony Board of Directors. The goals of the project are:
  • To help rural youth gain access to new cultural opportunities.
  • To forge alliances between the Oregon East Symphony and local school districts.
  • To give young people who cannot afford musical instruction and/or instruments a chance to participate in music lesson, rehearsals and performances.
  • To develop an awareness concerning the role of a community orchestra and chorale in the cultural health of Eastern Oregon.

Eight activities make up the core of Playing For Keeps programming:

  • Symphony Strings, an after school beginning strings program for 4th and 5th grade aged students. This activity is a collaborative effort between the Symphony and the Pendleton School District.
  • Two preparatory orchestras: the introductory level Preludes Orchestra and the intermediate level A Sharp Players. Both orchestras rehearse on a weekly basis and perform at least three times per season.
  • Raising the Bar, a mentoring program for advanced high school musicians. Students are paired with professional musicians for performance in Symphony concerts. Raising the Bar functions as the confluence of the Symphony's performance and education streams of programming.
  • The Oregon East Symphony also provides an Instrument Loan program and Private Lesson Financial Assistance for students who lack the financial means to purchase or rent an instrument and/or afford private lessons.
  • The Young People's Concert; a concert programed by Symphony Conductor and Artistic Director Dr. Beau Benson designed to introduce area 4th and 5th grade students to the fundamentals of music, instruments with a symphony orchestra, and proper concert etiquette.
  • Summer Strings, a weeklong strings instruction day camp held in August focusing on building individual playing technique and ensemble performance. Classes are led by Symphony teaching staff and adult musicians, many of whom are alumni of the Playing for Keeps program