The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras (SSYO)

Since 1944 both the SSO and Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras have been woven into the fabric of our communities. Throughout the area we serve, the SSO strives to provide young musicians – and young listeners – with exposure to classical music and live performances that can educate and inspire.

The SSYOs are two merit-based orchestras sponsored by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, for talented young musicians (up to age 19) living in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The SSYO will perform three Sunday afternoon concerts and two free concerts for young children. These events offer the perfect family-friendly way to introduce your children to the magic of live orchestral music. Additional opportunities such as sectionals with members of the SSO, an annual field trip, and our concerto competition provide an engaging musical environment for young musicians.

Auditions for both the Springfield Youth Sinfonia (an introductory orchestra that develops ensemble skills), and the Springfield Youth Orchestra (an advanced orchestra that cultivates standard orchestral repertoire) are held several times during the calendar year.

Live Virtual Course Offerings Fall 2020 – Session 2 Now Open to SSYO Members and All Students Grades 6 – 12

Until we can meet safely in person, we are continuing our education program virtually during Fall 2020, with live virtual courses led by an exceptional professional faculty. Join us and expand your musical horizons!

Classes will meet weekly in four-week sessions, with Session 2 beginning November 21 & 22 for SSYO members and all interested students in grades 6 – 12. If you have questions, please contact Education Director Kirsten Lipkens at

SSYO members only: Pre-register: Nov 4 – 8
Open Registration: November 8 – 17

Check out the course offerings for Session 2 below — more details, including instructor bios, syllabi, and registration link, available here.


Introduction to Music Composition

Instructor: Haneef Nelson

Level 1: Have you ever wanted to learn how to compose music but do not know where to start? Have you ever thought: “I wish I could write my own songs?” Would you like a starting place in the journey of becoming a composer? This 4-week session will introduce music composition through an exploration of several styles of writing music.

Level 2: Students should have some basic knowledge of music theory, have taken SSYO’s Beginning theory, or Intro to Composition. This class will introduce music theory instruction/concepts and apply them to composing music. Students will write and arrange compositions with melodic lines and harmonic structures. If you have any questions, please email Kirsten Lipkens:

Click for more details and registration information

Reading the Signs: An Exploration in Score Study and Repertoire

Instructor: Cailin Marcel Manson

Section A: This course presents students with an eclectic spread of concert music repertoire, inviting them to recognize both the obvious and subtle features of a score. Students will practice the skills of critical and analytical listening, reflect about what they perceive aurally, and pair these reflections with discussions on context and analysis to inform their own ideas about interpretation.

Section B: This second session of study will require that students visually and aurally examine one piece of orchestral literature each week in order to be prepared for class discussion. Each week will contain both an online lecture/discussion and a supplemental watching or listening list. The lecture/discussion will focus on assigned piece(s) of orchestral literature; the supplemental list for enrichment that will contain an audio playlist for students to juxtapose to the week’s presented piece(s).

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Beginning Music Theory

Instructor: Kirsten Lipkens

Level 1: This introductory course for any music student will start with the basics and create a strong foundation in Music Theory. We will go over the basics: clefs, intervals, rhythmic values, time signatures and begin to touch on chords.

Level 2: Theory 2 will begin with a review of intervals and move directly into building triads and 7th chords, and learning complex meters and rhythms. Each class will include written and aural skill training. Students will be able to actively participate during the class – using online tools and their own instruments. Printable worksheets will be provided for practice between classes as well as fun assignments that will fit into a student’s regular practice time on their instrument.

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Small Ensemble/Group Coaching

Coaches: Springfield Symphony Orchestra Professional Musicians
This is open to all SSYO members, and all instruments. Please contact Kirsten Lipkens directly to register for this class:

Join the SSYO for the 2020-2021 Season!

Openings in both Ensembles! Scholarships available! Auditions for the 2020-21 Season will be BY VIDEO.

Click the button below to register and read how to make your video.

Benefits of Membership in the SSYO

  • Great repertoire, fellowship with other talented musicians
  • Complimentary and discounted tickets to SSO concerts
  • Concerto Competitions, sectionals, masterclasses, and coaching

Youth Orchestra Concerts

The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras perform at least 5 times per year. Three of these concerts are full ticketed programs, with both orchestras performing symphonic repertoire in the spectacular Springfield Symphony Hall. These concerts are enjoyed by all ages, families and the public that prefers Sunday matinee performances.

Extra concerts offer shorter programs and are scheduled in unique spaces around Springfield and across the region. These concerts, free to the public, highlight the SSYO’s chamber groups, or just one orchestra and are designed for a younger audience. These include:

  • Hoops and Harmony, a yearly event in the theater at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Small group performances during intermission or pre-concert for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra
  • “Thank an Artist” with the Springfield Cultural Partnership in the MGM Springfield Courtyard
  • Family Fiesta at Tower Square in Springfield