Westchester Junior Strings Orchestra

2020-2021 Information

General Information

Arrival Time: Arrival, check-in and setup: 4:30 pm - 4:50 pm, Please head for Entrance Door A: Gymnasium, Rehearsal Time: 4:50 PM - 6:30 PM

What to bring to In-person rehearsals: chair with protected feet, folding music stand, music folder (supplied) containing ALL the music, sharpened pencil, cellos and bassists - rubber tips installed on both their end pin and rock stop.

All musicians must come to rehearsal wearing a mask that will be worn throughout rehearsal.

All musicians other than bassists should also have a mute – I recommend the rubber “Tourte” type. Be sure you don't get a "practice mute;" that's for a different purpose. Links for purchasing mute at right.

Rehearsal Notes


Dear Junior Strings musicians,

I will be holding on-line sectional rehearsals this Monday night (yes, even if you have no school!).

Here's the schedule:

5:00-5:25: Cello and bass

5:30-5:55: Viola

6:00- 6:25: Violin II

6:30-7:00: Violin I

Please be tuned to A=440 and have the Dag Wiren and Mendelssohn ready to play. Try to be in the Zoom waiting room before your assigned time. PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS A NEW ZOOM MEETING, please contact your conductor or liaisons if needed.


Hello, Junior Strings families,

This is a quick note to let you know that we are postponing our reopening to Feb.1st; we will not rehearse this coming Monday, Jan. 25th. This decision was made by the GWYOA Board with the advice of medical professionals about in-person rehearsals with mixed cohorts from different parts of the county. As we hope that positivity rates continue to trend downward, we are planning to begin on the 1st.

We are also scheduling a rehearsal on Presidents' Day, 2/15, so that we will have as full a semester of rehearsals as possible.

Violin I section:

Here's the music to our new piece, the Marcia (4th movement) from Swedish composer Dag Wiren's "Serenade." Please print this out for yourselves and have a look at it prior to our rehearsal next week.

Here's a video link to get you started, complete with beautiful Swedish scenery:


We'll also be delving deeply into the Mendelssohn Sinfonia again, so plan to have that in hand.

Meanwhile, keep practicing, keep healthy, and keep your spirits up! My fingers are crossed for 2/1.


Jacqueline Stern 🎶


Happy New Year, Junior Strings members and families!

As you may have seen on our website, the GWYOA Board has decided to postpone our re-start of rehearsals until January 25th, due to the continued spike in infection rates. We continue to take a conservative stance on in-person rehearsing to keep us all as safe as possible. At the same time, we are making plans for an out-of-doors concert at the end of our season; something to really look forward to. I will keep you apprised of the date and other details for that event.

In these intervening weeks, I strongly encourage you to take out our music and review what we have done. I'll be adding to that repertoire soon. I'd like to draw your attention to the Piu Presto at the end of the Mendelssohn Sinfonia (that is measure 352 in your part), which we have read once but not yet worked on together. (Cellists and bassists, this is not a difficult spot for you.) My ultimate tempo goal is half note=124. I direct you once again to this video; you'll find the Piu Presto at 10:03.


Junior Strings Contact Information:

Conductor: Jacqueline Stern: jacqueline.stern@gwyoa.org

Parent Liaisons:

Laura Chmielewski: laura.chmielewski@gwyoa.org

Sujatha Thalappillil: sujatha.thalappillil@gwyoa.org

Junior Strings Links:

2020-2021 Junior Strings Music (T/C)

2020-2021 Junior Strings Waiver

You must complete and submit this waiver before your first in-person rehearsal.

Mutes from SharMusic.com: Violin / Viola / Cello

Virtual Rehearsal Notes

Hello Junior Strings musicians,

I want to give you some guidance on participating in our remote rehearsals.

Plan to be in the meeting by 5:00 pm. If you know you will be late, let me know beforehand so I can make certain that someone will be there to admit you.

Be pre-tuned to A=440. Please mute yourself when coming in and remain muted during the rehearsal. I recommend that you listen with earbuds or headphones - it makes it easier to hear the orchestra while you’re playing along, and also improves the quality of the sound.

I will be taking attendance, and please leave your video on if at all possible. However, knowing that you may be experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” you should feel free to take any breaks that you need. I would suggest that sometimes you might want to silence the audio and use some of the time to practice a spot of the music. I invite you to be creative while you’re in the rehearsal - play with us when we’re all playing together or when I am rehearsing with your instrumental section; work on a spot (or go get a cookie) when I’m working with a different section. I will be giving a verbal outline of the rehearsal right as we start to help you work independently if you need to.

I also would welcome your thoughts and ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Let’s collaborate to make this less-than-perfect medium as effective and enjoyable as possible!

Tuition Payment:

Full tuition for the 2020-2021 Junior Strings season is $555. Families with multiple children in the GWYOA are entitled to a 10% tuition reduction off of each child's tuition (Sibling Discount). Please list musician's first and last name in Description box: Make Tuition Payment

Refund policy for In-person/remote hybrid musicians: 100% refund before the 1st rehearsal*; 75% refund after 1st rehearsal*; 50% after 2nd rehearsal*; 25% after 3rd rehearsal*; no refund after 4th rehearsal. In the event of a mandated complete shutdown of our season due to Covid-19, a pro-rated refund will be offered*.

Refund policy for Remote only musicians: 100% refund before the 3rd rehearsal*; 75% refund after 4th rehearsal*; 50% after 5th rehearsal*; 25% after 6th rehearsal*; no refund after 7th rehearsal. In the event of a mandated complete shutdown of our season due to Covid-19, a pro-rated refund will be offered*. - * minus $50 processing fee

Mendelssohn - Sinfonia X in Bminor - YouTube

Opus One Chamber Orchestra University of Massachusetts - Amherst Department of Music and Dance

If you look at the lower right corner of the video you will see a gear icon. Click on that, and you will see "playback speed" on the menu that pops up. Click that, and you can change the speed from normal to 0.75; I encourage you to practice with the recording at the slower speed. Try it at "normal" when you're ready. (I don't advise going slower that 0.75 as it's too distorted to be useful. A metronome is still a great, low-tech tool!)

That's all for now. You'll hear from me again before our first 2021 rehearsal. Please reach out if you have any questions.

Stay well and warm!

Jackie Stern


Greetings, musicians,

Preludio - we worked on the piece through the end. Careful of intonation in measures 207-234. Be sure you maintain the pulse in that section as well as the corollary spot towards the beginning, measures 64-92. Note that there's an accelerando at the end; we haven't done it yet, but we will next week! We will play it at quarter note=130 this week; do practice it with the metronome.

Mendelssohn Sinfonia - work through measure 319. The Adagio at the beginning looks easy, but it isn't. Pay attention to the pitch, dynamics, phrasing. Practice 202-319 slowly, for intonation. Here's another wonderful video of the piece conducted by one of my favorite violinists, Leonidas Kavakos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY-iNlx9tC4&feature=youtu.be

Here's the second half of the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-nDATtyQv8&feature=youtu.be

Libertango - in particular, measures 34-50 (especially violins). Cellos and 1st violins, be sure you have the correct rhythm at meas. 30 (and 13, 'cellos). Basses, don't lose the pulse at the end.

Kalinnikov Serenade - we didn't get to this on Monday, but please practice through letter E.

I will meet with violas again from 6:30-6:45 on Monday. We'll work on the Mendelssohn, especially the Adagio, the beginning of the Allegro, measures 108-132 and the 1st and 2nd endings, just as we did last week. Be sure you know where the notes A# and B# are!

Thanks, all, and stay healthy,

Jacqueline Stern


Dear Junior Strings musicians,

I think we're getting accustomed to the sound at St. Gregory, at last!

Here's the assignment for next Monday's rehearsal:

Preludio: prepare up to #247. Keep the staccato notes real short. Watch intonation from 207-204.

Libertango: we will work on meas. 34 (with pick-ups) to end.

Kalinnikov: please work up to letter D.

Mendelssohn: we worked up to the recap at #230. Watch the articulation of the quarter notes (with speed & slight separation), and the eighths, as in measure 88. I'd like to take it at quarter note=134 next week - at the Allegro, of course. Let's keep it light and spirited.

Next Monday I will have another 1st violin sectional from 6:30-6:45. (Violas, you'll be next...)

If you'd like me to send you the Zoom link to the recording or the Youtube video that Grace Baccay kindly made of our rehearsal, let me know. jacqueline.stern@gwyoa.org

Happy week!

Ms. Stern


Thanks for a fine rehearsal last night. I made a Zoom recording, so if any of you would like me to send it to you, let me know.

Important: I will be having some short sectionals after our rehearsals beginning next week. First violins, please plan to stay until 6:45 for some 1st violin-centric time - mostly on Mendelssohn. The week after, I will do the same with the B cohort first violins. Other sections, I will let you know about your future sectional time.

Here are some practice notes to guide you this week:

Preludio: practice up to #183. Carefully observe all the articulations - staccatos, sfz's, etc. and all dynamics. Try it at quarter note=112 (beginning from measure 9). Remember that at passages like #64 we need different articulation: fast, light bow, slightly over the fingerboard. (But don't let it slow down here).

Libertango: Concentrate on #34 to the end; be sure accents are played accurately - they really make this piece. Cellos, remember you are tacet (meaning, don't play) until the 1st ending (meas. 16); then really juice it up!

Mendelssohn Sinfonia: have this in hand through measure 202. Be able to play at quarter note=112 with solid rhythm and intonation. Separate the bows in both the quarter notes and eighth notes.

Here are some video links for your pleasure:

Libertango: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ2VAoOd-5s&feature=youtu.be

Preludio: https://vimeo.com/339487425

Mendelssohn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Neks_D9yQfA&feature=youtu.be

Mendelssohn - Sinfonia X in Bminor - YouTube - Opus One Chamber Orchestra University of Massachusetts - Amherst Department of Music and Dance

21-May-2019 Preludio by Paul Whear - Emmett Drake, Music Director. William H. Hall High School Concert Orchestra. West Hartford, CT.

Libertango by Astor Piazzolla/arr. James Kazik - YouTube - To purchase print edition or for more info: http://goo.gl/PtQTUR To purchase, download and print instantly: http://bit.ly/3awT7zH Pop Specials for Strings

Happy Halloween! - Ms. Stern


We worked on three current pieces, and here are the portions I'd like you to work on for next rehearsal:

Libertango - through measure 34

Preludio - through measure 162

Mendelssohn - through measure 88

The Mendelssohn is by far our most challenging piece right now. Here's a video to help and inspire you:


Thank you, as always, for your good will and musicality!

Jackie Stern