Twelve-year-old Selin Oh has been a part of the Butler University community longer than most Butler students.
For three years, Selin’s mother drove her to Butler every Saturday to rehearse and study music through the Butler Community Arts School.
The BCAS is an initiative of the Jordan College of Fine Arts that provides instruction in music, dance, theater and art to young people after school, on weekends and throughout the summer.
Selin played for the BCAS’s Children’s Orchestra. For two of the three years she played in the orchestra, she also took private lessons.
“Every Saturday at 11 a.m. was a very precious time for me,” Youngbok Hong, Selin’s mom, said. “That whole hour, I could just sit and listen to the kids practice with the other parents in the back row.”
The music program has been a part of BCAS from the very beginning in 2002 and includes private music lessons, summer camps, a youth jazz program and beginning piano lessons for both children and adults.
About 1,800 students and 101 teaching fellows—Butler students and alumni—make up the BCAS music programs.
“Part of our mission at BCAS is to make the arts accessible to everyone,” BCAS director Karen Thickstun said. “Many children don’t have access to an orchestra. We are trying to fill a community need.”
The children’s orchestra is a predecessor to the youth orchestra, which is for older students.
There are other youth orchestras in Indianapolis, but Thickstun said the BCAS created one in order to give students who are too old for the children’s orchestra a place to advance at this university.
She said that a secondary outcome of the BCAS programs is that students and families become very comfortable at Butler.
Sophomore Erica O’Brien went to the Strings Scholars Camp the summer before her senior year of high school.
“I had gone to some Butler Symphony Orchestra concerts, and I wanted to be a part of it,” O’Brien said.
She got to know Richard Auldon Clark, BSO director and viola instructor, through the camp.
“He is a really awesome person,” she said. “My experience at the Strings Scholars Camp was half of the reason I decided to go to Butler.”
O’Brien is now a music performance major. She plays for the Butler Symphony Orchestra, takes viola lessons with Clark and even helped out with the Strings Scholars Camp and Strings Camp last summer.
Selin said she knows Butler very well and has enjoyed her experience, speaking fondly of the friends she made and of her time with the orchestra.
“At first, I only played by myself,” she said. “But after playing with the whole orchestra, I learned about putting the different parts of the whole piece together. It really sounded nice.”
Selin, who is not playing this semester, hopes to return to the BCAS youth orchestra in the spring.
Rehearsals begin on Sept. 15.