Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ's
  1. How do I join Sinfonia or the Youth Symphony?

    We have auditions in the late spring, typically early May. We also give auditions at the beginning of each concert series (mid-August, mid-Nov, and mid-February). For more information go to our auditions page. To sign up for an audition complete our audition form.

  2. Does NVYS offer scholarships for tuition? How about lessons?

    Each season we offer a limited amount of tuition assistance to students based on need. If you are interested in applying you will need to complete an application and submit your parents most recent tax documents or annual pay stub. You will find an Tuition Assistance application here on our Forms and Documents page.

    We also offer partial lesson scholarships for students based on need. You will find the Lesson Scholarship application here.

  3. Can I participate in sports and a NVYS ensemble?

    Sports and NVYS do not have to be mutually exclusive. If games and practices conflict with NVYS rehearsals, you’ll have to talk to your conductor ahead of time about whether it is possible to contribute adequately to both groups. Most sports only conflict with part of the NVYS season, so it is possible to participate in some, but not all, of the concerts throughout the year.

  4. My child is really excited about music but does not play an instrument yet, can they try out?

    NVYS doesn’t currently have any ensembles appropriate for starting an instrument. We invite you to look at our list of private teachers who our students have enjoyed working with and who can help your child establish basic music skills before joining a music ensemble. Any of them would be qualified to get your student the fundamental skills necessary to perform in an ensemble such as String Sinfonia or Wind Sinfonia. Many students begin their musical journeys with school band and orchestra programs and then broaden their experiences with private lessons and ensembles such as NVYS.

  5. How often does my child need to practice to be in NVYS and Sinfonia?

    There is no defined requirement of practice time to be a member of any of the NVYS and the amount will vary from student to student, and from week to week. In general, Sinfonia students should plan to spend one to three hours a week on their Sinfonia music, and NVYS members should plan to spend three to six hours per week. Note that this is not just playing the instrument in another ensemble but working on technical challenges presented by the music for NVYS or Sinfonia.

  6. What are “seating auditions” and why do you have them?

    Seating auditions are when each orchestra member auditions for a small group (2-3) of judges who decide where they will "sit" in the orchestra. This is typically when the Concertmaster and Principal violinist are selected.

    NVYS has seating auditions in September at the beginning of each season. Sinfonia and Wind Sinfonia students are seated based on their season audition in May.

    We have seating auditions for our older students so we can utilize the strengths and weaknesses in a group and to produce a balanced sound in performance. It is important for the director have a clear concept of each student’s abilities so the student can be placed where he or she will provide the most he or she can to the ensemble and where the ensemble will benefit the most from the student’s participation.

  7. Does my child need to take private lessons to be in a NVYS ensemble?

     Private lessons are required of NVYS students but not required of Sinfonia and Wind Sinfonia students. Sinfonia students hoping to move up to NVYS in the near future should definitely take lessons in order to build the necessary skill base for the higher level of technical challenge presented by the music performed by NVYS.

  8. Can my child only audition for Youth Symphony or Sinfonia?

    When students audition we place them in the ensemble that is appropriate for their current musical level. However, if students are only interested in auditioning for one particular ensemble please let us know prior to your audition and we will keep that in mind. If you are unsure about which group is best for you, we invite you to schedule an audition so we can discuss the ideal placement with you.

  9. How much time is required to be a part of NVYS?

    Sinfonia groups require 1.5 hours of rehearsal weekly and NVYS requires 2.5 hours. In addition, students are expected to practice their music outside of the rehearsal between three to six hours a week depending on what is needed to prepare passages for performance.

  10. What do I do if my student isn’t enjoying their experience in NVYS?

     Above all, NVYS should be an enjoyable experience for students. Please contact your ensemble’s director directly, or speak with Artistic Director, Tristan Arnold at, or Executive Director, Shelley Surh


  11. Can I visit a NVYS rehearsal?

    Parents and prospective students are always welcome to observe an NVYS or Sinfonia rehearsal. We rehearse on Sunday evenings at Napa Christina Academy (2201 Pine Street, Napa). Please contact our Orchestra Manager,Meeghan Pavelin at to schedule a visit.

  12. What differentiates a Sinfonia and a Youth Symphony musician?

    Our NVYS Skill Sheet.pdf outlines the skills needed for each ensemble. This document is also on our Audition page.

  13. Do students move from Sinfonia to NVYS when they enter high school?

    Movement from Sinfonia to Youth Symphony is based on the results of the Youth Symphony audition, held each spring. Students must demonstrate a high level of technical expertise in this audition and age is not a factor in promotion to Youth Symphony. It is not unusual for a student to audition multiple times before acceptance and you are encouraged to ask for feedback from your audition to understand the areas in which you need to work.