For Ximena and Alejandro Rojas, music means more than just learning how to play an instrument.
“We think that music is very important,” said Alejandro Rojas, whose children are part of the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO). “We’re convinced that having music as part of their every day life helps them in other areas in terms of education, art and culture and athletic activities.”
The Rojas family has been part of the Patel Conservatory since they moved to Tampa from Chile four years ago.
“Music is a good way to communicate our feelings. There is definitely no language barrier,” said Alejandro, a former athlete who competed on the Chilean Olympic row team.
“I had the honor to represent Chile in many international championships including in two World Championships and two Olympic Games,” said Alejandro. “Rowing is about constancy, discipline and team effort...The reward is enormous and it gives you tools for life.”
His wife, Ximena, took years of piano and also enjoyed chorus and dance. The two have passed their love of both athletics and music to their children with the belief that both provide lifelong lessons of teamwork and discipline.
Alexia and Leonardo Rojas, 13-year-old twins, play competitive soccer and have played with Coleman Middle School’s orchestra for the past two years. They will both be joining PCYO this fall.
“My two brothers play violin, so I wanted to do something different,” said Alexia, who plays cello. “It can be a lot some nights when we have concerts and practice, but I enjoy it. I don’t like having extra time on my hands."
Her older brother, Mauricio Rojas, 15, a sophomore at Plant High School, started in PCYO’s String Sinfonia. This year he’ll be joining the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra, the PCYO’s senior level.
Alejandro feels his kids benefit from being part of an orchestra because they thrive on being part of a team.
“When you have just private lessons with an instrument, you don’t see the long-term picture,” said Alejandro, a veterinarian who specializes in aquaculture. “When you combine private lessons with orchestra, they get to see where it’s going...When they play together, you can see in their faces, they have a greater sense of accomplishment.”
Educational or not, for the kids, it’s just plain fun. Leonardo’s excited to be challenged in PCYO’s Intermezzo Orchestra.
“I like faster music,” said Leonardo, who also plays classical guitar. "At school, not all the kids can play at the same level, so they can't teach harder pieces. The [PCYO] is more formal and organized. It teaches students better music."
The next auditions for the 2011/12 Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra will be August 22 and 23. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813.222.1273 for an audition appointment.