Resources for Youth

Which Instrument is the Best?

Instruments of the Orchestra

The String Section is by far the largest in the orchestra; including violin, viola, cello, bass, and harp. Watch these musicians move their bows across the strings, making sounds as soft as a trickling stream or as loud as a thunderstorm. The harp makes beautiful sounds by plucking or stroking the strings.

The instruments of the Woodwind Section (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and sometimes saxophone) are long and tube-like, with rows of holes, played by blowing into them, often with a reed.  Woodwinds can sound light and airy, or dark and scary.

The Brass Section instruments (French horn, trumpet, trombone, and tuba) are long tubes of shiny gold metal, bent and twisted into shapes that make them easier to hold.  These instruments boom and blare!

The Percussion Section has the greatest variety of instruments; snare drum, bass drum, gong, triangle, xylophone, timpani, and piano, among many others. They are played by being struck or shaken.  Watch as these musicians move around to play many different instruments during a concert.

The Conductor helps the musicians all start and stop together, and guides them to play faster or slower, and louder or softer, as they perform each piece of music.  The conductor also shows the character of the music to the orchestra players and to the audience through her gestures.  The conductor plays a very important role in a symphony orchestra, even though the baton makes no sound!     

Meet Our Youth Musicians

High School Musicians Perform with the DSO

Our featured musician for our summer Cantigny concert is percussionist Kyra McComb. “Percussion has always been my calling,” said McComb, “it’s a light inside me.” Kyra is a 2022 graduate of Downer’s Grove North High School and will pursue a music degree this fall at the Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University, a prestigious and highly competitive music school. She will work toward earning a Bachelor of Science in Percussion Performance.

The DSO’s June 18 performance at Cantigny Park is Kyra’s first time performing with the DSO. “I’m excited to perform outdoors and get to see the audience’s reactions to the performance.” 

Film favorites have top billing on the ‘Hollywood Heroes’ concert, performing popular themes from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the flying theme from E. T. (The Extra-Terrestrial).

“I love the ‘Hollywood Heroes’ theme,” said McComb, “especially the Superman March, which I performed with the Chicago Youth Symphony. It gives out so much energy, no matter what instrument you play. It reminds me of my childhood.” 

McComb is particularly eager to perform Wonder Woman and showcase a female superhero, as well as female protagonists in the To Kill a Mockingbird Suite and Jane Eyre Suite, also featured on the June 18 concert. 

Highlighting women’s significant and often overlooked contributions to music is a prominent discussion for contemporary ensembles. “It’s inspiring to work with Maestra Barbara Schubert and I’m enjoying the experience. She gives advice to the percussion section on how to produce the sounds as she envisions them. It’s exciting to work with a female conductor; growing up, it helped me to know that conductors and percussionists can be female and it’s helping me to live my dream,” reported McComb. Under Maestra Schubert’s skilled direction, the DSO was honored as the Illinois Council of Orchestra’s Community Orchestra of the Year in 2021 and 2013. 

Rehearsing with the DSO has helped Kyra prepare for a professional music career. “I’m just inspired! Getting to work with such amazing and experienced musicians has encouraged me so much already,” said McComb. “It’s not ‘here’s how to do this’ but directions like ‘make this sound more dry.’ Hearing suggestions from different perspectives helps me to create and explore different sounds.” 

The DSO’s percussionists have enjoyed working with Kyra for this concert and find her to be hardworking and driven, with a bright future as a musician and educator. “My learning is never going to end!” said McComb. 

Music has the power to get us through even the most difficult of life’s circumstances. This is what Waubonsie Valley High School (WVHS) senior Meredith Stemm has come to find out. Meredith’s grandpa had a stroke, but music provided something amazing: the ability to sing. For a man who loved music so deeply, this provided a special way to bond with his grandchildren. Little did she know, seeing her grandfather cope in a healthy way with his diagnosis would help her down the road.

Drawn to music since childhood and preceded by siblings who were part of music at Waubonsie Valley, it was only a matter of which instrument she would play.

Every winter WVHS puts on a big winter concert called Prism which incorporates different groups and pieces moving seamlessly around the entire auditorium. One year and one person in particular vividly jumped out at Meredith during Prism; there was a percussion concert, and Meredith felt drawn to the marimba, a large instrument with wooden bars with a gentle, resonant tone. She recalls watching the girl playing and feeling that was what she wanted to do.

Since committing to percussion, Meredith has performed as a part of the WVHS Marching Band and as part of a percussion quartet with friends. She loves how percussion allows her to move around and play diverse instruments. One of her proudest musical achievements includes practicing and performing Percussion Quartet by Danny Elfman: “I felt proud because we only worked on that piece for a month. We did really well and got a lot of compliments on it.”

At the beginning of her senior year, Meredith was involved in a car accident. A long-time soccer player and part of her school team, she was unable to return to her beloved sport right away. What she did have was music. Lessons from her grandfather rushed back and helped her as she grieved, healed, and moved forward: “I wanted to get back to marching band really badly and that was motivation to keep going. Music helped me have a positive outlook.” She went on to add, “I use music in every aspect of my life. When I am sad, it helps me grieve and move through processes. When I can’t put something into words, a song will help me do that.”

Triumphantly returning after a challenging start to her senior year, Meredith will forever cherish her last Prism concert. “All of the orchestras, bands, choirs are playing and everybody is crowded into this compact setup. Choir kids run in from the sides singing and as a senior this is a really special concert where we wear a Santa hat and throw them up into the air as a final farewell.”

Meredith’s musical path hasn’t ended with WVHS. Performing with the DuPage Symphony on March 19 as part of “Our Talented Youth” will be Meredith’s first time playing with an orchestra. She expressed her excitement to meet older musicians and learn from the best. She’s already met fellow percussionist Bill Jastrow, who serves on the DSO Board. “[Bill] was so welcoming. He gave me tips and pointers that were encouraging and helpful.”

Meredith was especially impressed by Maestra Schubert, for whom she has high praise: “I haven’t had a female conductor since junior high and I was initially intimidated by her serious demeanor. The more I observed her the more I noticed how supportive and fun she is.” Looking forward to Sunday, Meredith can’t wait to put the whole piece together in the beautiful Wentz Concert Hall and play her heart out.

Leaving us with a word of encouragement, Meredith hopes anybody wanting to learn an instrument will “Just try it out! It doesn’t hurt to try and experience everything and do all the things you want before it’s too late. Time goes very fast; I’ve learned that as a senior.”

Young Artists Auditions

70th Annual DuPage Symphony Orchestra | Young Artists Auditions
Date: Sunday, January 28, 2024

The DSO strives to encourage serious study and musical excellence among young musicians through its annual Young Artists Auditions. The audition experience is designed to be both educational and rewarding for the participants. All entrants will be evaluated by experienced judges and will receive written comments and suggestions based on their individual performances.  

The First Place Winner will receive a cash award of $500.00 and the opportunity to appear as a soloist performing for 10-15 minutes with the DuPage Symphony Orchestra during the 3:00 PM concert on Sunday, March 17. The Second Place Winner will receive $300.00 in cash. 

The 2024 Young Artists Auditions have past. Click on the button below to view current and past winners.

Open Rehearsals

Open Rehearsals are an ideal way to check out classical music, especially if you’re uncertain about committing to a concert. These 60-minute casual rehearsals are a great way to introduce children to the orchestra. Be sure to RSVP for our open rehearsals by clicking the date listed under “When can I attend?”

An Open Rehearsal is the final dress rehearsal before a concert, usually the Friday evening prior to a Saturday concert. You can expect to hear about half the music we’ve scheduled to play at the concert. This is a unique opportunity to see the orchestra at work in a casual setting. Maestra Schubert aims to perform entire individual works without stopping, but you’ll likely see her stop to make corrections and communicate with the musicians. This is a fun way to view the conductor/musician relationship and witness some of the nitty gritty of making impactful music. 

Open Rehearsals are free and open to the public!

The Open Rehearsals are scheduled typically from 7:30-8:30 PM, without intermission. 

From 8:30-9:00 PM, the orchestra takes a break to visit with patrons in the lobby. You’re encouraged to ask questions and share your comments with Maestra and the musicians- we love your feedback!

We offer complimentary desserts (usually brownies) and beverages for all attendees, graciously furnished by My Chef Catering, our In-Kind Sponsor.

Most Open Rehearsals feature a “Musical Instrument Petting Zoo” display by one of our sponsoring music stores. You will have a chance to hold and handle instruments, learn how to produce a sound, and ask instrument specialists how these instruments work.

Join us for our ’23-24 Open Rehearsals! Upcoming dates, locations, and the RSVP link are listed below.

“Springtime Celebrations'” with DSO’s 2024 YAA Winner, Henry Auxenfans, violin

  • When: Thursday, March 14, 2024 @ 7:30-9:00pm
  • Where: Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College – 401 E Franklin St, Wheaton, IL 60187
  • RSVP here.

“Modern and Melodious” with special guest, Mary Elizabeth Bowden, trumpet

  • When: Thursday, May 16, 2024 @ 7:30-9:00pm
  • Where: Wentz Concert Hall – 171 E. Chicago Ave, Naperville, IL 60540
  • RSVP here.

Support the DuPage Symphony Orchestra