Playing for Keeps

"Our Pre-K through 12 youth classical music education program"


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.

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.

Our core programs are:

Starting Strings Sooner

A Suzuki Strings Method course for preschool and kindergarten aged children and their parents that aims to create a family culture that promotes music performance in addition to providing rudimentary string instrument playing technique.

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.

Preludes Preparatory Orchestra

The Preludes string orchestra is open to beginning to intermediate string musicians of any age who can read music. This program is directed by Lisa Robertson.

A Sharp Preparatory Orchestra

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

Raising The Bar

A mentoring program for advanced high school musicians where 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.

Private Lesson Financial Assistance

The Oregon East Symphony provides financial assistance to students for private classical music instruction.

Instrument Loans

The Oregon East Symphony provides loan instruments for Playing For Keeps participants who do not have the financial resources to purchase or rent an instrument.

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 week long 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.