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UPDATE 3/17/2021

Although SDYS will continue virtual rehearsals until further notice, we are looking forward to positive changes that will affect our coming 2021-22 season.

To all currently enrolled SDYS students and families, thank you for your commitment to SDYS this past year. As we open registration for next season, we hope to offer clarity and reassure you that SDYS is actively preparing for a safe return to in-person rehearsals in the fall. To do this, either in Balboa Park, or outside the Park in another adequate rehearsal space, the following criteria must be met:
According to San Diego County and Parks & Recreation Guidelines:
In order to hold outdoor rehearsals, we must be in the red tier.
In order to hold indoor rehearsals, we must be in the orange tier.
To ensure the safety of all students, and based on the information currently available, SDYS will enforce the following:
  • All students must have a signed SDYS Covid Waiver from their parent or guardian prior to their first in-person rehearsal.
  • Student temperatures will be taken by an SDYS staff member prior to entering the rehearsal space. Any student with a temperature above 100 degrees will be asked to go home.
  • Masks that cover the nose and mouth are required at all times.
  • Students will be required to maintain a six-foot distance in rehearsals.
  • Wind and brass players will be required to use SDYS-provided instrument PPEs. (These will be provided at rehearsals. WInd and brass players should wear their own mask to the Casa Del Prado).
  • Conductors and staff will be fully vaccinated.
  • Students should not congregate in areas such as courtyards, bathrooms, doorways, or hallways before or after class.
  • The only people allowed into rehearsal spaces will be SDYS staff and students.
  • Eating and drinking in rehearsal is prohibited.
These guidelines are based on the best current information that we have and are subject to change. Thank you for your continued flexibility and patience, and we look forward to you joining us again in the fall! Please visit for more information.

UPDATE 1/8/2021

SDYS plans to continue virtual rehearsals while California is under a stay-at-home order. We continue to make plans for a modified return to in-person rehearsals, and will only be able to consider it once San Diego County has returned to the red tier.

UPDATE 10/30/2020

Dear SDYS Families,

Thank you for your support, your trust, and your understanding these last several months. We’re extremely proud of the work the students have accomplished since September and look forward to celebrating their achievements on Saturday, November 14 in final rehearsal share-outs (parents are strongly encouraged to attend). We also look forward to our virtual conference on Sunday, November 15. Student attendance is expected but there is an experience for everyone, including parents! Please visit our conference webpage for more information:

As promised, we wanted to update you with our plans for the upcoming concert period. We want to be as transparent as possible about both our educational priorities for your students and what we believe is in everyone’s best interest. Our first priority is, and will remain, the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff.  We are monitoring the rise in case numbers, the onset of cooler weather, and the fact that San Diego County has only just stayed in the governor’s red tier, indicating “substantial risk”. As such, we feel a sudden return to in-person rehearsals is not advisable. To that end, all November and December rehearsals (3 in total) will remain online.

Looking ahead:

  • SDYS is developing a variety of hybrid instruction models and scenarios which would allow periodic, in-person, smaller-sized rehearsals to resume when it becomes safe to do so.

  • These models and options will also include weekly virtual instruction so that any family may continue to do learning from home for as long as they wish. There is no pressure for any student to return to in-person learning.

  • Regardless of the setting, we will do our best to maintain the current rehearsal schedule and to provide the best possible ensemble experience for your students.

We would like to have an in-person option available as early as the spring. Any option for hybrid instruction will need to happen slowly and carefully, as part of a long-term reopening plan that properly prepares students and families for what they should expect at rehearsals, while continuing to follow the Governor’s guidelines. Our ability to do this will depend on the pervasiveness of the virus, how quickly a vaccine can be developed, and where San Diego is on the Governor’s tier system at that time.

We will be back in touch with families by January 8 with further details.


Dr. Michael Remson, President and CEO
Jeff Edmons, Music Director
Dr. Lauren Rausch, Conservatory Program Manager

UPDATE 8/3/2020

Dear SDYS Friends and Family,

We hope this letter finds you well and doing your best to cope with what continues to be one of the greatest disruptions most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. We miss seeing you and hope that the day we can come together at concerts and events happens soon.

After a busy spring, where we successfully transitioned all SDYS programs online, and then a quieter summer than normal, canceling the International Youth Symphony program as well as plans to offer new summer classes, this is a good opportunity to reconnect with you and share SDYS’ plans for our milestone 75th Anniversary season.

Like many local school districts, SDYS will begin the year with virtual classes to protect the best interests of our students and staff. While we initially won’t have traditional concerts, the good news is that we have developed an outstanding plan for ensemble classes, making use of state-of-the-art technology to facilitate meaningful music-making experiences for our students. We’ll also be offering special student opportunities as well as online enrichment classes. Even though we can’t meet in person, the music doesn’t stop, and neither does SDYS’ new vision to enrich lives through music. This work will culminate in an online celebration for our community in November.

We are planning to resume in-person operations no later than January and can’t wait to welcome you back to performances. A 75th Anniversary postcard will arrive in the mail soon that highlights some wonderful events we are currently planning, including guest artists, collaborations, outdoor performances, and a very special celebration for the 25th anniversary of music director Jeff Edmons. After a planned season-ending celebration in June, we’re looking forward to bringing back the International Youth Symphony program as well as offering new classes in Summer of 2021.

Our theme for the upcoming season is to “Celebrate 75 Years of Families” at SDYS and we are grateful to all of you for your continued support. Many non-profits and arts organizations are facing challenging times and uncertain futures. As we look to the next 75 years of service to young people and their families, you are vital to helping us fulfill our mission and change young lives across San Diego County. If you are able to support our efforts, we appreciate anything you can do to help us meet our goals.

We’re starting the countdown now to a joyous 75th Anniversary. Don’t forget to mark your calendars when you get the postcard and look for a special birthday video on September 6 to kick things off.

Stay healthy and safe,

Dr. Michael Remson, President & CEO


UPDATE 7/30/2020

Dear SDYS Families, 

Thank you for your patience as we have continued to plan for the best possible programming at SDYS this fall. We have taken into consideration both the governor’s recent closings and the vast majority of schools in the county deciding to start the school year virtually. Their guidance makes it abundantly clear that virtual programming is, indeed, the safest option for students this fall. 

We have decided to offer our Conservatory students virtual programming through our first ten-week period, ending on November 15. Though we understand that many of our families have been looking forward to SDYS resuming in-person instruction, we feel it’s in the best interests of the entire SDYS family to take the safest option

Thank you to those of you who stayed with us for the spring semester as we worked to lead meaningful online rehearsals. We are all aware of the challenges of rehearsing online, but we wanted to give you an idea as to what you can expect this fall in order to maximize our ability to play together this fall:

  1. Ensembles will meet together weekly on Zoom. Ensemble meeting times are subject to change based on enrollment. Each ensemble will receive one link for the entire fall period. Students will sign in and register each week in an effort to keep accurate attendance records. This fall, SDYS will utilize Zoom breakout rooms for part of the rehearsal to separate into smaller groups/sectionals, while also continuing to prioritize online safety for our students. All information about weekly rehearsals will be available on our password-protected website. 
  2. Students will be provided with access to software to facilitate meaningful music making. This technology will include but is not limited to Smartmusic and Soundtrap. Our conservatory team and conductors will be helping students and families get comfortable with this technology, beginning at our virtual Season’s First Downbeat on August 29. We will have more information about this for you in early August.
  3. Each ensemble will plan to learn, prepare, and record at least one piece together for the fall concert period. Families will be invited to the last zoom session of the concert period to share students’ final recorded performance and celebrate their significant achievements. 
  4. All SDYS Conservatory students should also plan to participate in an SDYS-wide collaborative performance piece.

In addition to weekly meetings, SDYS will offer a variety of online opportunities to further enhance and open the virtual experience to our entire SDYS community, at no cost. SDYS conductors, staff, and guest artists will lead zoom sessions on a variety of topics, including technology training, how to record yourself, how to practice, how to choose a private teacher, college prep, and more. SDYS hopes to further engage students and parents by offering these educational virtual sessions, which are largely based on feedback we have received from parents and the educational needs of our students. 

Additional enrichment classes, to deepen your children’s conservatory experience, will be offered as well. Currently under consideration are classes like music theory, composition, and chamber music. Costs for these particular classes will be lower than our usual enrichment class fee, considering that they will be offered in a virtual format. We will notify you about which classes are to be offered by early September. 

Because of this significant shift in programming, we are extending the tuition deadline to August 15. For Ovation students, the Carson Kemp application deadline is also extended to this date. After August 15, a $20 late fee will be added to tuition payments, up until Season’s First Downbeat, on August 29

We are also including an option to join us starting the second concert period. If you choose this option, you will be able to defer your tuition payments until November 1 with a reduced rate shown here. All Ovation Chamber Orchestra leadership (merit award) musicians are required to register for the full season. All Ovation Camerata Orchestra musicians are strongly encouraged to register for the Ovation program for the full season. Any student who chooses to defer will be placed in the back of the section at the beginning of the second concert period.

We will let all of our families know by October 26 whether or not we will resume in-person instruction or a hybrid of in-person and online instruction for our second concert period. It is our genuine hope to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is our hope that you will join us on this new journey of online music making. We are confident that we can provide a quality musical and educational experience by learning from this past spring, by leveraging the possibilities of technology and supplemental online offerings, and by continuing to thrive together in this new educational landscape. 


Lauren Rausch, Conservatory Program Manager 

Jeff Edmons, Music Director

Michael Remson, President & CEO


UPDATE 7/1/2020


SDYS’ Health & Safety Precautions for 2020-2021

Due to Covid-19, we have explored a variety of options for the upcoming season in order to deliver the kind of instruction and quality you have come to expect from SDYS. In the event that we return to in-person instruction, the following is a detailed plan to ensure the health and safety of all of our students, faculty, and staff. Please review this information carefully.


Fall 2020 Rehearsal Period

All students in Ovation, Showcase, and Symphonic Strings are placed into groups of no more than 54 students each. Overture Winds, Overture Strings, and all Prelude-level students will be in groups of less than 30. This has been done so that we may promote the following health and safety guidelines:

  • Occupancy Codes: We have reduced the occupancy of all SDYS rehearsal rooms to 35% or less of Fire Marshall guidelines. This is consistent with both CDC and State of California guidelines for churches, restaurants, etc.
  • Physical Distancing: All students will be seated a minimum of six feet away from one another during rehearsals. We have also slightly shortened rehearsal times to minimize gathering time (per CDC recommendations).
  • Ventilation: All rehearsal rooms will keep doors open as often as possible and we have been told by San Diego Parks & Recreation that our HVAC controls are set to circulate air as much as possible in all rehearsal rooms.


In addition, the following guidelines will be required of all students:


Preventative Health Measures

  • Students, faculty, and staff who have exhibited any symptoms of cold or flu or who have been around a family member showing symptoms are asked to stay home and report an illness to SDYS. SDYS will enforce our regular attendance policy for the 2020-2021 season, keeping in mind that flexibility is needed surrounding any Covid-related symptoms. We will provide virtual options for students who are unable to attend due to Covid-19 on a case-by-case basis.
  • All students, faculty, and staff will be temperature checked before entering rehearsal rooms. Students will be asked to line up for temperature testing at rehearsal room entrances. Anyone with a reading over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter.
  • We are suspending the sale of snacks for this season until further notice. Students should come to rehearsals having eaten.
  • We will no longer provide water at rehearsals. We ask that students hydrate themselves before and after rehearsal once they are outside of Balboa Park. 
  • We recommend that students use the bathroom and wash their hands before they arrive to rehearsal, as there will no longer be breaks. Students will continue to be able to access the bathrooms in Casa del Prado if necessary.
  • Rehearsals will be closed to all visitors, including families, until further notice.
  • We ask that parents not congregate on the second floor balconies in order to support physical distancing.
  • Our performances will take place in room 207 and will be live streamed and recorded for rebroadcast and viewing.


Rehearsal Rooms, Physical Distancing, and Student Movement

  • All SDYS classrooms will have designated entrance and exit doors through signage. The east stairwells may be used to go up to the second floor and the west stairwells may be used to exit down and out of the building. Students should follow appropriate signage at all times.
  • All students will be placed six feet apart from one another in rehearsals. All group sizes will be limited to no more than 54 students (room 207 will allow for this set-up with six foot spaces. Rooms 204 and 205 will accommodate up to 27 for smaller ensembles).
  • All students will be required to wear masks that cover their noses and mouths. Masks may not be removed at any point while in Balboa Park, with the exception of wind and brass students. Wind and brass students may remove their masks only when playing. If students need to get up or walk around for any reason during rehearsal, they must wear their mask.
  • Any student who arrives without a mask will not be allowed to participate.  They may purchase a mask for $1.
  • All conductors will wear protective face shields while on the podium in rehearsal. Masks will be worn when conductors interact with students and staff outside of rehearsals.
  • All wind and brass students will have partitions to manage the flow of aerosols. Wind and brass students should not clean their instruments in rehearsal rooms. Brass students must empty condensation onto pads provided and then discard pads at the conclusion of rehearsal. Hand sanitizer will be kept on the front desk near the trash cans for students to use after discarding pads.
  • Doors remain open in all classrooms during rehearsals to facilitate ventilation, unless ensemble rehearsals are interrupting each other. All HVAC fans will run during all rehearsals.
  • Students will be dismissed from rehearsal by rows and are expected to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance when leaving rehearsal.


Sanitization Protocol

  • All chairs will be sanitized by SDYS staff members after each rehearsal. Percussion equipment will be treated the same as can be accomplished without damaging the instrument. 
  • Students will be assigned an SDYS music stand that they will take home between each rehearsal (if they do not have their own). Students who do not bring a music stand to rehearsal will be charged $1 to borrow one. Students should not touch each other’s instruments, stands or related gear. Students should not share any supplies.
  • All students will be responsible for extra cleaning of instruments. Instruments may not be shared under any circumstances nor may supplies be shared.
  • Students will have on-going access to cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer and, in bathrooms, soap and water.
  • Signs including this and more detailed information are posted outside of all Casa del Prado classrooms for the duration of the 20-21 season.


Students who do not follow these new policies will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from SDYS. Thank you for adhering to these policies that contribute to the safety and well-being of all SDYS students.


We hope that this information helps you feel confident that SDYS is doing everything in its power to balance the desire to make music and the health and safety needs of the entire SDYS family. We recognize that this is going to be a big adjustment for our students, but to maintain the program and to ensure health and safety, we ask for your continued cooperation.

UPDATE 5/1/2020

A Message from Dr. Michael Remson, President & CEO 

Dear SDYS Students and Families,

I’m writing, first and foremost, to say “thank you” for your continued support of SDYS. On behalf of the entire team, I can’t tell you how much it means to us. When the Governor’s stay-at-home orders were announced, SDYS faced one of the most important questions in its nearly 75-year history: “How do we stay connected and support our families?” Here are just a few ways you have inspired us:

  • Conservatory ensembles continue to meet virtually, continue to make music, and are overcoming obstacles by making music matter. Roughly 80% of Conservatory students are attending weekly get togethers and virtual activities. In addition, weekly private lessons for tuition assistance students have also continued.
  • Students are preparing for their auditions and receiving many types of support from SDYS conductors and teaching artists. And yes, auditions will happen in May and June (using the Accept’d online platform).
    SDYS’ early childhood program ChIMES has gone virtual, sending twice-weekly videos and activities home to hundreds of families from both our Balboa Park classes and through our partnerships with community groups around the county.
  • SDYS’ Community Opus Project is providing private lessons and video-based instruction to hundreds of students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and is providing teacher training to help teachers adjust to distance education.

Wow. In six weeks, you have inspired us to do a lot. And, one SBA emergency loan later, we’ve done it without furloughing any full-time employee or artistic staff. So thank you again. I know that it’s difficult not to make music and some of you may even be wondering why we keep meeting – this article here from the Washington Post sums it up beautifully. It’s all about the role music plays in our lives and why it matters even more at times like this. I hope you’ll take a look.

We also promised a May 1 update on planned activities. As it is for you and your family, SDYS is working diligently to manage the same uncertainties and unknowns; so please understand that some of these plans might change… but here is what we’re hoping to do at this time:

Spring 2020

Students in ensembles, music theory classes, and sponsored lessons will continue to meet and engage in the activities they have been doing for the last several weeks.
We are planning an SDYS Virtual Community Celebration, featuring every SDYS ensemble as a culminating event for the 2019-20 season. Your ensemble directors will be speaking to the students about this over the next few weekends. Currently planned for Saturday, June 13, we’re looking forward to having every SDYS family join us online to celebrate your accomplishments.

Sponsored lessons students will perform in four different virtual recitals on May 16 & 17.
Auditions for our 2020-2021 season will be from May 8 to June 5 using the Accept’d web portal. Specific instructions (other than those provided in our Audition Handbook) will be made available on May 8. Thank you to the 550 families who have already signed up. If you haven’t registered, you may do so here.
We are also holding our annual scholarship fundraiser, Encore! but taking it online! On Saturday, May 2 at 5:00 pm, please join us for a brief program of music and interviews showcasing everything that SDYS does for our community. Many students are also featured! Everyone is welcome and there’s no charge! The link to join us is here.

Summer 2020

As soon as Governor Newsom and local health officials outline the guidelines that will allow us to re-open safely, we are hoping to offer optional summer activities for students. These might include free week-long “get back into shape” programs for all levels. We’re also hoping to offer affordable second instrument camps and a percussion workshop.

More information on these programs, including locations and the health/safety precautions we will require of all participating students, will be available over the next several weeks, pending county health notifications. We appreciate your patience while we finalize details.

Fall 2020

At this time, we are planning to launch our 75th Anniversary Conservatory Program the first weekend after Labor Day. What exactly that looks like will depend on Governor Newsom and current social distancing restrictions. We are developing plans so that every SDYS student can join us either in a large group, a group of 50 or less, or a group of 10 or less. To do this, we are working closely with Balboa Park, the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation, and our fellow organizations in the Casa del Prado to ensure that the health and safety of every student comes first. This will almost certainly mean regular clean-ups and potentially fever monitors at rehearsals. It may also mean closed rehearsals and virtual concerts, at least to start the year. Our goal is to make music and ensure everyone stays safe.

We are hopeful that we will have more complete information on gatherings and social distancing requirements by our July 2 placement mailing. We ask for your flexibility with SDYS’ commitment that we are doing our best to ensure the smoothest and safest possible start for our anniversary season.

We hope to resolve any remaining questions you have in the coming weeks. Thank you all again for being a part of SDYS.

Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

UPDATE 3/27/2020

On behalf of everyone at SDYS, we hope you and your families are staying healthy as we adjust to life with COVID-19. We miss seeing our students and families every week, but more importantly, we miss HEARING you make music together.

As events related to COVID-19 change daily, we are continuing to monitor the situation and have the following updated information for the SDYS community (listed chronologically).

SDYS offices in Balboa Park are closed until further notice by order of the CIty of San Diego. We will announce reopening dates as soon as we receive word from the City that it is safe and healthy to do so.

Registration for SDYS’ 75th Anniversary 2020-21 Season opens on April 6 (rehearsals begin in September). For current families, please watch for an email in the next few days with details. Information for the broader music education community will be posted on the SDYS website on or before April 6.

SDYS’ April 19 Ovation performance at Copley Hall is postponed. The SDYS Box Office will be in touch with ticket holders to discuss options on or before April 1.

As the situation changes daily and some good news emerges on the global front, SDYS is hopeful that we can save the end of the 2019-2020 Conservatory season. A final decision regarding resuming the season will be announced on or before May 1.

In the meantime, we hope all Conservatory students are receiving our communications with regard to practice tips, audition preparation, and how to keep your musical activities going at home. Sponsored lesson teachers are scheduling online lessons, the music theory and composition class is meeting via Zoom, and many conductors will be holding online or phone sessions for students.

Our annual fundraiser, Encore!, will be held on May 2 as scheduled but will now go virtual! We’re excited to share details of this with you in the coming weeks. Current ticket holders will be contacted by April 3 to discuss options.

Auditions for the 2020-21 season will begin in mid-May as scheduled. We are currently exploring audition options, including on-line, that will safeguard the health of all students and staff. Look for announcements regarding auditions on or before May 1.

Situation permitting, we are exploring options for limited summer programming. We hope to have announcements to you on or before May 15.

Our most sincere thanks goes out to everyone in the SDYS community for your ongoing encouragement and support. Together, we’ll keep the music going!


Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

Jeff Edmons
Music Director

P.S. We hope you’ll consider following us on our social media channels to enjoy the positive messages we’re sharing there.  Facebook is our main channel, with additional postings on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


UPDATE 3/16/2020

As all of us continue to take necessary precautions during this fluid situation, we want to let you know that the SDYS office is now closed at least until March 31. In the interest of the health and safety of our office staff, we are working remotely from home. Please know that we are still available via email and able to check any voicemail left for us in the Balboa Park office.

We hope to provide some alternative programming for our students to offset the disruptions we are all facing. We will do our best to continue to offer quality instruction and resources to our students until we are able to resume normal operations in Balboa Park.

In an effort to give families the time needed to adjust to the current conditions throughout San Diego, we will postpone registration for the 2020-2021 season until early April. At this time, auditions are still expected to take place from mid-May to mid-June. Please email the programs team at with any further questions.

Please note that currently ALL events, rehearsals, and community activities are currently suspended until further notice.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time. We look forward to resuming programming as soon as it is safe to do so, and we will continue to be in touch with any new updates.



Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

Jeff Edmons
Music Director

San Diego Youth Symphony