Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra

The Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra is the only youth orchestra in the Roaring Fork Valley region. There are no K -12 public school orchestra programs in the valley. The RFYO fundraises to offer need-based scholarships for lessons and tuition and to make orchestral playing accessible to all students.

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Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra


Arts, Culture & Humanities 


Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations
Children (4-12 years)
General population


The Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra (RFYO) brings together more than sixty student musicians, ages 5 to 18, from Aspen to Rifle, to learn how to play and perform in an orchestra. The RFYO works to make classical music instruction and orchestral playing accessible and affordable for all students. Currently, no schools in the Roaring Fork Valley offer continuous K-12 orchestral music or strings programs. The RFYO works to fill this gap through its after-school youth orchestra program and by providing need-based scholarships for private lessons. The RFYO provides musical opportunities to all students regardless of their ability to pay.

RFYO students play violin, viola, cello, bass, winds, brass, and percussion, and participate in weekly rehearsals and private lessons, as well as eight concerts or outreach events each school year. Without the RFYO, many of these students would not be able to afford private lessons, or would not have the opportunity to play with an orchestra.The RFYO offers free family friendly educational outreach concerts in community settings, such as libraries and nursing homes. In these performances we seek to engage audience members, both children and adults, with stories of the music and composers.


Evidence of Program's Success

The RFYO was created in 2011 by a group of parents and music teachers in order to bring together young musicians to play in an ensemble and be a part of a larger musical community. The growth of the RFYO from eight students in 2011 to more than sixty students in 2018 demonstrates the success of the RFYO and the ongoing need for this program in the Roaring Fork Valley region. The RFYO has also grown to include three levels of ensembles in three locations to make the program more accessible to students throughout the valley. Students advance from one level of the RFYO to the next as they progress on their instrument. This indicates that the side-by-side teaching model and low student-to-teacher ratios are achieving the desired goals in the RFYO program.

The RFYO communicates with school music teachers, private instructors, parents, and students to identify how to adapt and develop the RFYO to best meet the needs of the community. This musical network supports the RFYO and helps to build a community of students, teachers, and families around the program. The RFYO conducts surveys to gather input from families and students to ensure the future success of the program. Feedback is generally very positive from participants and re-enrollment numbers support this. Audience feedback at concerts is also very positive and events are well-attended.

Almost every staff member who helped to start the RFYO in 2011 still works with the program today. All RFYO teachers are professional musicians who are highly trained in performing and teaching classical and orchestra music. The dedication of the staff and their broad range of backgrounds and experience are invaluable to the program.

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