Beaufort County students with a desire to learn and play a musical instrument in a concert band now have a unique opportunity.

The newly formed Lowcountry Youth Wind Symphony has introduced a three-part music program specially designed for area children, such as homeschooled students, who might not otherwise get the opportunity to perform in a concert band setting or take music lessons.

“This is a very exciting program that’s more than two years in the making,” said Don Jemella, music director for the symphony. “We’re trying to bring together kids from a lot of different schools and home school settings.”

The symphony’s mission states that the group is dedicated to “providing a rich, inspiring and educational environment; promoting artistic enrichment for youth musicians; and preserving the rich repertoire and cultural history of the wind band.”

Part One consists of a concert band program open to student musicians in grades 7 through 12 from traditional school and homeschool settings.

Part Two is a music lesson program for students in grades 4 through 12 who might be interested in either private, semi-private or small group instruction.

Once beginner students have achieved a level of mastery (Part Three of the program), a beginner band will get underway.

The first “open house” meeting took place Jan. 18, and Jemella and co-director Christina Randall were pleasantly surprised by the turnout. The original 19 students increased to about 24 by the second week, and organizers expect about 35 total for the first year of the program’s existence.

“We were excited to have so much interest, and the quality of the music has been amazing so far,” Jemella said.

Jemella said that other organizers, including Randall, Casi Beals and Sherry Iassaldano, also deserve credit for turning the LYWS into a reality. He added that all of them are grateful to Church of the Palms for providing rehearsal and performance space.

The symphony is planning to perform a free, public concert each semester, and the first performance is set for May 20. The time has yet to be announced.

Youth interested in joining the LYWS can sign up to participate in the rehearsals and performances at any of the weekly sessions, held Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the Christian Life Center at Church of the Palms, 1425 Okatie Highway.

Questions may be directed to Jemella and Randall via email at info.LYWS@

Shae Dalrymple is the assistant editor of the Bluffton Sun.