Junior High Orchestras

For students completing grades 5 – 8

Designed for junior high string students, the primary focus of this program is developing individual musicianship through a large ensemble setting. Students will audition and be placed in either the Junior Orchestra or Junior Strings. Classes include full ensemble and sectional rehearsals, masterclasses, and elective courses. Wind and percussion students must sign up for Junior Band, and placement into Junior Orchestra will be based on audition during the first day of camp. Wind and percussion students that place highest in auditions and indicate interest will be selected to perform exclusively in the Junior Orchestra during their camp experience.

Up to two junior harpists will be accepted into the Junior Orchestra Harp Program.

Here is what a typical day in the Junior Symphony Orchestra program will look like:

  • 8:15- 10:30 am: Full Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 10:45- 11:45 am: Sectionals
  • Noon- 1:15 pm: Lunch
  • 1:15- 2:15 pm: Full Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 2:30-3:30 pm: Technique Class
  • 3:45- 4:45 pm: Electives
  • 5:15 pm: Dinner and evening activities
  • 10:30: Lights out

Click Here for Program Costs.


Junior Orchestra - JoAnne May
, Elmhurst College

Joanne May is Assistant Professor of Music and director of the Philharmonic Orchestra, chair of the string department, and music education instructor at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. During her tenure at Elmhurst College she founded the annual Elmhurst College World Music Festival, assisted in writing the course String Improvisation for Educators, added four new string faculty members to the department, began a secondary instrument string orchestra for music education students, developed the string chamber music program, started an electric string ensemble, conducted the Philharmonic at the Illinois Music Education Conference and in Millennium Park for the Chicago World Music Festival, and set up annual performance tours to high schools in several states.

Prior to teaching at Elmhurst College, May retired with 33 years in the public schools in Illinois and Missouri teaching strings, orchestra, band, choir, general music, and serving as music department chair at Glenbard East High School in suburban Lombard, IL. She received numerous awards for teaching, including the Mary Hoffman Award for Teaching Excellence by ILMEA, Glenbard Township High School District Distinguished Service Award, Educator of the Year and Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois American String Teacher’s Association, and Teacher Recognition Award for the Presidential Scholar Program in Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Department of Education.

Joanne is compiling editor of The String Teacher’s Cookbook: Creative Recipes for a Successful Program published by Meredith Music Publications, distributed by Hal Leonard, author of the book Homeschool Music: A Guide to Music Instruction for the Homeschooled Child published by Meredith Music, and author of numerous articles in state and national professional journals. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, Past President of the Illinois American String Teachers Association, Past Chair of the Orchestra Division of ILMEA, and is currently Chair of the Council for Orchestral Education for the National Association for Music Education.

Junior Strings – Aaron Kaplan, Glenbrook High Schools, Glenview, IL

Aaron Kaplan, conductor and cellist, enjoys a multifaceted musical career as a conductor, musical director, cellist, music educator, and arranger. Aaron earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the tutelage of Donald Schleicher. He earned his bachelor’s degree in cello performance and bachelor’s degree in music education with high honors also from the University of Illinois. Aaron is currently the assistant orchestra director at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High Schools in Northbrook and Glenview, IL where he co-teaches the orchestra classes, is the assistant conductor of the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra, writes arrangements for both schools’ annual variety shows, and conducts the annual Glenbrook musical. He is also on the faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago where he conducts the Preludio Orchestra, is the assistant director of the Chicago Suzuki Institute, and recently appeared on 98.7 WFMT’s Introductions conducting the Music Institute Cello Choir. Previous positions include: Interim Conductor of the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestras and Music Director/Conductor for the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and Community Orchestra in Springfield, Illinois. In 2013, Aaron stepped in at the last minute to conduct the opening night performance of The Nutcracker with Sinfonia da Camera and the Champaign Urbana Ballet. Aaron has continued his conducting studies at workshops in the United States and in Europe with Gustav Meier and Larry Rachleff, and has conducted the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the New Symphony of Bulgaria in Sofia. A passionate advocate of the American musical theatre, Aaron has been the music director/conductor for over 45 musicals (with complete orchestration) including West Side Story, Les Misérables, RENT, Chess, Guys & Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Producers. He was invited to conduct the orchestra for the Illinois High School Theatre Festival All-State Production twice; in 2013 for Memphis (premiere amateur production) and in 2017 for Sweeney Todd. Aaron also conducted the musical productions for the Allerton Barn Festival (Monticello, IL) in both 2013 (Of Thee I Sing) and 2014 (On the Twentieth Century). An active cellist, Aaron is currently a member of Sinfonia da Camera and the Heartland Festival Orchestra. He has previously performed with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Quad City Symphony, and Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Aaron has served as a guest cello and conductor clinician for the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra, Urbana Chamber Music Workshop, Allerton Chamber Music Symposium, Illinois Summer Youth Music and the Chicago Suzuki Institute. Aaron began studying cello at the age of 5 with Holly Compton, and then continued with Blake Brasch, Ani Aznavoorian, and Brandon Vamos, and chamber music with Stefan Milenkovich and the Pacifica Quartet. His conducting mentors include Gustav Meier, Larry Rachleff, and his teacher, Donald Schleicher.