Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • Spring-Summer 2021 • Circulation 5000

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YONA-Sistema Music Program Deals with COVID-19

In the February 2020 issue, Boyle McCauley News described the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA)-Sistema program at St. Teresa of Calcutta School. This remarkable program of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has been offering great musical training and experience to Edmonton-and-area students since 2013.

But then in March of 2020, COVID-19 arrived, and the school, parents, and community had to figure out how to adapt to the changes the pandemic presented. The YONA-Sistema team reached out to families, asking them if they would still like to be involved in YONA in a different capacity. The response was a resounding, “Yes!”

So, YONA Online was launched. This involved more than 100 instrument deliveries/pick ups, online group and private lessons, peer group phone calls, and other innovative approaches to the new normal.

One Grade 3 student was new to the program this January and had only a few months’ lessons on his viola before lockdown occurred. He opted to continue online. He says the weekly half hour lessons are hard, but he is determined. He told his teacher that his dad’s birthday was coming up and he needed to know how to play “Happy Birthday.” That was quite a challenge, but he managed to play a version of the song, and his family did not care if his performance was worthy of Carnegie Hall.

Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.

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