Having your children in band or orchestra can be expensive proposition, but as it turns out, not always. Youth Orchestras of San Antonio has a decades-long history in the Alamo City, but YOSA Más is still new, having been officially established in January, 2013. The word más in the title has a double meaning. Besides "more" YOSA Más also stands for YOSA, Music After School. The program is modeled on the pioneering Venezuelan music education program El Sistema.
"We teach after school strings, basically," says the program's director, Aurelia Rocha. "The kids are bused to us. We provide them instruments, and then they’re broken up into three classes, so we have two classes of beginning violin and one class of beginning cello."
YOSA Más is happening at the Edgewood School District, where they are teaching primarily fourth and fifth graders. And as Rocha explains, they have an interesting technique.
"The first half of the day they have small class instruction. And during the second half of the day, from 5:30 ‘til 6:15, they have group instruction as part of an ensemble, so they all come together and we all teach them at once," she says.
YOSA Más is recruiting children in hopes that they’ll learn a lot about music, build self esteem, and stick with it.
"For many of them it’s a first-time experience for their families," Rocha notes. "It’s a first time experience going to concerts, and going to see their kids play, and it’s a lot of fun."
Asked if the program is akin to planting a seed, or tree, Rocha responded, "I think that for these kids it’s something that becomes more than a tree. It becomes a forest. This is something that they can pass on. This is something they can share with their friends, share with their entire family, and this is how we change lives through music."