Youth Orchestras

Youth Orchestra Member Portal

Coached by NJSO musicians, the NJSO Youth Orchestras give qualified middle- and high-school students—especially Black and Latinx youth in the Greater Newark area—unparalleled opportunities to achieve personal and musical excellence.

Announcing the NJSO Youth Orchestras 2021–22 Season!

Youth Orchestras rehearse on select Saturdays from October—June. Depending on ensemble placement, activities take place between the hours of 9:30 am–3:30 pm.

In 2021–22, in-person rehearsals will take place at John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in person. There is a virtual-only option for students who are not vaccinated.

Students interested in joining the program should email to inquire about openings. There are opportunities for students in grades 4-11 ranging from beginner ensemble to advanced symphony orchestra.

Watch an NJSO Academy Orchestra Virtual Performance


Go behind the scenes of the NJSO Youth Orchestras through a spotlight series presented by M&T Bank.

Program Benefits

The NJSO Youth Orchestras bring together students of all skill levels who share a passion for music. In addition to great music making across four performing ensembles, benefits include:

  • Coaching by NJSO musicians
  • Saturday rehearsals with flexibility for students in marching band
  • Volunteer opportunities and mentorship training
  • Additional performance opportunities for advanced students
  • Complimentary tickets to select NJSO concerts
  • Supportive peer-to-peer environment
  • Individualized instruction and musicianship training

Rehearsal Days & Locations

Youth Orchestras rehearse on select Saturdays from October—June. Depending on ensemble placement, rehearsals take place between the hours of 9:30 am–2 pm.

In 2021–22, there will be a combination of in-person rehearsals and virtual classes. Students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to participate in person. There will be a virtual-only option for families unable or unwilling to receive the vaccination.

In-person rehearsals will take place in Montclair, NJ. Exact details will be provided prior to registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should my child/student prepare for the audition?
Audition requirements and orchestral excerpts will be posted to our website when the applications are made available. While you are waiting for excerpts to be posted, your child should be working on his/her solo piece. We recommend that he/she prepare by playing the notes accurately and following dynamics; that the artistry and interpretation of the piece is appropriate; and most importantly, that he/she play with confidence! 

What should my child/student play for his/her solo piece?
A solo piece should be a piece that best represents his/her current playing abilities. Please review the audition requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. The solo piece does not need to be memorized, and will be performed unaccompanied (there is NO piano available.) Solo pieces should be 2–3 minutes in length. Longer movements for more advanced students are fine, but please be aware the adjudicators may stop the student before the movement is complete, for time’s sake.

Will my child/student need to play all of the orchestral excerpts?
Your child/student should prepare all of the orchestral excerpts listed under the requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. It is up to the adjudicators’ discretion whether or not all excerpts will be played during the audition. 

Is there an audition fee?
No. There is no fee to audition for the NJSO Youth Orchestras.

How much does the NJSO Youth Orchestras program cost?
For the participation fee structure for 2021–22, please contact

Do you accept students with little or no playing experience?
The NJSO Youth Orchestras offers beginner/preparatory strings instruction to students in the Greater Newark area only, through our Training Ensemble, which provides individualized instruction, subsidized instrument rentals (only a $20 instrument fee is charged per student) and musicianship training.

What if the audition deadline has already passed?
Occasionally, there will be openings during the season for select instruments. Contact to find out if there are openings for your instrument.

Join the NJSO Youth Orchestras Alumni Network

Are you among the program’s alumni? We would love to reconnect with you!

We invite you to fill out this brief questionnaire and join our Facebook group.


Related Programs

El Sistema New Jersey Alliance

Funded by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, El Sistema New Jersey is a unique alliance of El Sistema-inspired music-instruction programs across the Garden State. Keys 2 Success, the Paterson Music Project, Sister Cities Girlchoir (Camden), Trenton Music Makers and Union City Music Project are the anchor programs of this network. The aim of El Sistema New Jersey is to provide collaborative training, performance and professional-development opportunities that empower participating families to come together in a statewide musical community.

NJSO Academy Artistic Leadership

A group of dedicated professionals lead the NJSO Academy Programs.

Meet the Team

Sponsors make this program possible. Thank you!

  • BD
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Merck Foundation
  • M&T Bank (Youth Orchestras Winter and Spring Concerts Sponsor)
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Turrell Fund
  • Wells Fargo
NJSCA-logo.jpg DJA-logo.jpg

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The NJSO Training Ensemble is supported by the following sponsors, in addition to those listed above:

  • Broadridge Foundation
  • Ken and Susan Fahrenholtz
  • The Leavens Foundation
  • The Harold I. and Faye B. Liss Foundation
  • Verizon
  • Victoria Foundation