Testimonials & Reviews
My name is Shannon Ferrara. I am a parent of a participating student for 7 years as well as in-school band director and/or private lesson teacher for some students. Also, as of this past year, I have become more involved with the organization as a conductor. I cannot say enough good things about the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey and the opportunities they provide students. I’ve seen numerous instances of the great work they do both as a parent, as a school and private music teacher, and as a conductor in the organization. I have personally observed the musical growth and confidence of playing and as a person overall of my own child as well as students with whom I work in school and privately. YOCJ provides opportunities to young musicians they can’t otherwise get such as performing in small chamber ensembles. Because of the small ensembles in which the woodwind, brass, and percussion students play, they learn to be more self-reliant in their playing. Often times, these students would rely on the safety of numbers in their school ensemble, but while playing in the chamber group, they might be the only one on their part and are challenged to play with confidence. This then translates to more confidence in their school ensembles and they become leaders within their groups. I am proud to have supported this organization and now to be a part of it. And I am proud of the YOCJ students’ hard work and dedication to the betterment of their musicianship.
Sanjay Kaushik, Violinist: I have been playing the violin as a member of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey for the past six years. I have had numerous special opportunities that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere, which constantly inspire me to practice and play the violin with a true passion. I had the privilege of participating in masterclasses with the incredible David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Basia Danilow, concertmaster of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, I played for Midori as part of her Orchestra Residencies Program, I was taught to analyze music through the eyes of the remarkable Rob Kapilow, and learned directly from skilled professionals through YOCJ’s partnership with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Each interaction left me in awe of these super talented musicians who are also warm, kind and funny!
In 2019, when YOCJ announced its first Chamber Music Recital, I was excited to form a string quartet as I wanted to try playing Chamber Music. I immediately chose my friends from YOCJ to join me. With advice and encouragement from Mr. Pugh we began practicing together regularly. Following 3 years of consistent effort, including through the pandemic, this spring our quartet was selected to play in Alice Tully Hall as part of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Young Musicians Program. It was another wonderful experience that was possible only due to my involvement with YOCJ. Now with newfound appreciation for chamber music, many of my friends are forming small ensemble groups and practicing together! YOCJ is an amazing community led by dedicated and patient conductors/staff who inspire us everyday to be our best selves on and off the stage.
“We want to take this time to say thank you for all you have done for our little girl, Selma Cheeks. YOCJ does more than just teach and train youth to be great musicians, it also teaches them those values that are lacking in our communities and in our young people today. A few examples of these principles are: showing up 15 minutes before practice, being responsible, practicing at the end of the day, being committed, and most importantly, respecting those in authority and adhering to what they’re being taught. These are ethics that all individuals must have, for him or her to be able to cope with today’s fast-paced world. It is our hope that Selma will carry into adulthood everything she has learned from YOCJ. Your organization is definitely needed in today’s ever-changing landscape, with social media taking over young people’s lives with no other healthy choices to take. YOCJ is an excellent resource which our kids have, to safely navigate the chipping waters of today’s culture. Thanks to all the directors for taking time out from their busy schedule to work with our children. My family will never forget all that you have done for Selma and what you are continuing to do for all the children in your organization. May God continue to bless your continued efforts.” ~ Selma’s parents, Eugene and Roseline Cheeks
“I would like to express my gratitude for the hard work and dedication of everyone involved with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey. My husband has been a conductor with the organization for many years, and my children and I have enjoyed many concerts. As an audience member, I was always astounded by the level at which these young musicians performed.
This year, our older son auditioned and became a member of the String Preparatory Orchestra. His participation with the YOCJ has enabled him to challenge himself and further his skills as a young musician. The highlight of this year was the trip to Germany, where the students not only performed and interacted with local musicians and conductors, but were exposed to musical history. For me personally, I never could have imagined that I would witness both my son and my husband performing on the same stage in another country! This was an amazing and unforgettable experience.
As I am now attending YOCJ concerts as a parent, I am thankful that these talented young students are part of an organization that teaches them to appreciate music, and exposes them to so many opportunities that go beyond the boundaries of simply playing an instrument.” ~ Amy Woodward