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Building an orchestra for area youth

by | September 27, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: September 26, 2018 at 9:16 am

The first members of the Colleton County Youth String Orchestra started making music Saturday morning.
The members of the youth orchestra, directed by Jacksonboro resident Pam Wiley, conducted their first meeting and rehearsal in the meeting room of Colleton Memorial Library on Sept. 22.
Wiley, a resident of Jacksonboro for 13 years, previously founded the Jacksonboro Fiddle Club and a youth orchestra in West Ashley.
Now her attention is focused on Walterboro and the rest of Colleton County.
“I have been doing more and more close to home with the Jacksonboro Fiddle Club and teaching in Walterboro. I decided I wanted to put my energy into starting a youth orchestra here.”
Wiley said she decided to step away from the West Ashley group because Charleston County youngsters have numerous other options — they can take string lessons in the school district and there are a number of other organizations in place to bring the music students together.
“I believe my efforts and energy would better spent in Colleton County, where they don’t have a youth orchestra and don’t have strings in the school system,” Wiley said.
She sees the forming of the county-wide youth string orchestra as a natural outgrowth of her work with the Jacksonboro Fiddle Club and the private music classes she conducts in the Walterboro area.
“My students from Colleton County didn’t have an outlet for what they were learning in their lessons. They did not have a group to play with,” she explained.
As she conducted her private lessons in the Walterboro area, Wiley said, “I saw this orchestra in pieces. I could see that it would all go together into a little orchestra.
Interest in the Jacksonboro Fiddle Club has waned and she envisions the Jacksonboro area youngsters still interested in playing a string instrument becoming part of the orchestra. “I see it (Jacksonboro Fiddle Club) morphing into the orchestra,” she said.
“I lucked in that room at the library.” When she explained her vision of a youth string orchestra and the need to find a rehearsal space, Wiley said, “The library staff was very interested and supportive.”
Wiley said membership in the string orchestra is free. The only requirement is that those joining the orchestra are taking classes in a string instrument, either from Wiley or another music teacher. Those classes, she added, aren’t free.
“Anyone who would like to learn or already plays is welcome,” Wiley said. She is available by phone at 843-743-5322 or by email at
Wiley teaches using the O’Connor violin method. She said O’Connor has an orchestra version of his method and has penned orchestral arrangements of fiddle tunes.
The orchestra, she said, would specialize in those fiddle tunes but also perform other pieces of American music.
“We’ll emphasize American music — that sets us apart,” Wiley said. “I do some arranging. I have a great arrangement of ‘You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog.’”
The Colleton County Youth String Orchestra has its first concert lined up. They are to be on the Colleton Memorial Library Lawn on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. for a performance as part of the Fall Festival.
With limited rehearsal time before the appearance, Wiley said the orchestra will have some songs ready, “but it won’t be a full hour concert.”

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