Testimonials & Reviews

Henry Tsai, 8th grade violinist:
“My experience working with Dr. Flanders was amazing! I enjoyed both the online Rounds and Canons class and the Midori Concertino project. I learned a ton and had a great time!”
Regards, Henry
 
Prisha Bagchi, 7th grade Violinist:
I was in the chamber camp this summer. I had an amazing time with Dr. Flanders coaching our group! She was really fun and also gave us great suggestions and tips for our piece, which made it a lot better. Her analogies were really easy to understand too, and I learned a lot from her. It was truly a unique experience for me. 

Nicholas Epps, 12th grade violinist:
“Even during these unusual times, PSO’s partnership with YOCJ ensured we could still make music during the 2020-2021 season. Despite our virtual limitations, Dr. Flanders hosted a wonderful online course where we played Bach’s Musical Offering. And during the summer, the in-person chamber music Summer camp was exceptional. Our coach, Rajli, helped us take our piece to the next level.”
 
Nikhil Das, 12th grade cellist talks about his experience with PSO coaches during the 2021 Summer Chamber Music Camp at Rider University:
 
“Some coaching advice that was really helpful was making sure we were listening to each other at all times. Jichen Li had us play with our eyes closed, without music, and with the room pitch black at different times to help us listen to each other. I think this definitely let us hear each other more and the direction the music was supposed to take us. I also appreciate the subtle differences that he explained even with simple notes one of my favorite lines was as a cellist when we have easy parts we have to “create our own work” so even in parts in the Mozart he taught me how to phrase quarter notes that seemed very boring and spaced out at first. 
 
Working with other musicians who were also very into the music as well definitely helped me regain my love for cello playing and also the rehearsals with just the group I think allowed us to work on what we wanted to present during our coaching sessions which lead to more fruitful discussions and coaching rehearsals. I also loved the Master Class, and I think it’s great to help the little kids work on their playing.
 
I just really really loved Jichen’s coaching. I thought Jichen was spectacular as he made rehearsals very fun, interesting, productive, and he also had a great sense of humor.  He also made us feel like real musicians with chamber music protocol for performances as well as addressing every musician’s nerves of performing. One of my favorite memories was right before the concert he let us all go around individually and talk about what we do when we get nervous and then he offered us solutions to these different problems and that was some of the best advice I have ever received.  He is definitely a coach I will never forget and I would love to work with him in the future.”
 
Angela Li, 12th grade violinist talks about her experience with PSO coaches during the 2021 Summer Chamber Music Camp at Rider University:
 
“Jichen Li really helped in ensemble related feedback. He said that one of a chamber group’s biggest challenge is playing in unison, and a way to help is to make eye contact while cuing so everyone stays together. On performance day, he also gave advice on how to not be nervous while performing. He said that the reason why we are nervous is because of the audience, and that if we focus on the beginning of the piece and to play that part well, then the rest of the piece would come along well. Jichen also gave us some advice with sight-reading: when sight-reading with a group, always communicate with each other especially when it comes to tempo and also the repeats (whether or not the group does the repeats or not). 
 
Rajli Bicolli is also a really great coach. He gave me advice on how to play the Dvorak piece in a “playful” style and also helped the others out with rhythm and balance and dynamics etc. Rajli also shared about his professional gigs, and I think it really helped double bassist Laura because she is really interested in going into jazz in the future. Rajli also brought in his electric cello and a couple of electric violins because he had a gig later on one of the days of the camp, and we got to play on them after our rehearsals. Personally, I found Rajli a “fun” coach who was very immersed in conversing with us.
 
Both Jichen and Rajli are great cellists and coaches, and if there was an opportunity for them to work with YOCJ again, that would be awesome. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to play at the chamber camp!”

“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

Brian Woodward

“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