Second term will start, via Zoom, on Tuesday January 12th, 2021.

New registrations are welcome for term 2 (Jan.-April 2021) in all our groups. ARYO is a strings program for young people aged 10-24 and we also include adults in our Fiddle Group. If you would like to learn violin, viola, cello or double bass as a beginner or already have some playing experience, please join us!

Format for fall 2020 and winter 2021:  Festival Theatre, where we usually teach,  is not open to community groups for now, so ARYO took the form of online Zoom sessions for first term. We are looking at the possibility of switching to in-person sessions later in second term, but are maintaining the Zoom format for January at least. Our instructors and board worked together to devise an online format that is simple and focused, with the possibility of small in-person performances in the community as the situation allows. We were happy to conclude first term with a private in-person performance for family members on Tuesday, Nov. 24th, as well as a short online concert of carols performed by ARYO instructors and a few students, for Wickwire Place Seniors’ Home in Wolfville.

Our season runs from Sept.-May and consists of  two terms of 10-sessions per term.  We welcome new students, and have something to offer for young string players of all levels of experience. Beginners are especially welcome! Adults as well as young people with some playing experience are welcome to join our Fiddle Group.  To register please fill out our online form, under “Registration”. For any enquiries, contact us by email at aryostrings@gmail.com.

If you have children who are under 10 but who would like to learn a string instrument please also contact us, as we may be able to help.

ARYO 2020-2021 SEASON


What We Offer

String clinics: For the 2020/21 season ARYO will offer two group classes of string instruction (the “clinics”), one for beginner violin/viola and cello, and a second level clinic for the same instruments. Double bass instruction is offered based on an individual/small group lesson hourly fee. Registration in the string clinics includes participation in the Introductory Orchestra, which is a separate session teaching the basic techniques of string orchestra playing.

The ARYO Orchestra: is for more advanced students. These students would generally be taking private lessons, though this is not a requirement. Our in-person program offers a half hour of fiddle group to ARYO orchestra students. For our online program, registration in the ARYO orchestra includes an optional participation in the full hour of Fiddle Group (all instruments).

*There is a possibility of movement between levels over the course of a year, if a student’s progress makes this desirable.

Fiddle group: is for students of any age, 10 and up, adults included, who are already comfortable with the instrument, and have some ease of playing, particularly in a group setting, and is based on learning traditional Nova Scotia fiddle tunes together. Fiddle group is also open to the participation of people playing other fiddle-friendly instruments: mandolin, guitar…

Music Festival: at the discretion of the instructors, selected groups may be offered the opportunity of participating in the Annapolis Valley Music Festival, which takes place the first week of May. In order to prepare for this, participating students would continue to come to rehearsals in the Tuesday time slot throughout April (at no additional cost).

Other possible offers:

Individual lessons: In future, if registration is sufficient, we may be able to offer individual/small group lessons through the ARYO portal as an alternative to the larger group clinics. If you think this option might interest you, please contact us.

Younger children: the minimum age for participation in our program is 10 years, although younger children who are experienced players may be accepted. However if you are interested in instruction for young beginners you may still contact us, as we would like to know what the demand for this might be and can refer you to other programs.

Adults: Although the Acadia Regional Youth Orchestra does not currently offer instruction to adult string players outside of our Fiddle Group,  adult string players with 2 or more years of playing experience are welcome to contact us in order to connect with other adult players in small (self-guided) chamber groups.  These groups would not be offered as part of the ARYO program, and would need to be entirely self-organized, but we would be happy to help interested string players connect in this way.

Our online schedule (via Zoom) will consist of 6 consecutive 40- minute sessions, starting at 4:15 and ending at 8:00 PM, with the following groups:

4:15 – 4:55    Beginner Mixed instrument  Clinic          Elizabeth Sircom

5:00 – 5:40    Introductory Orchestra            Elizabeth Sircom

5:45 – 6:25    Second Level mixed instrument clinic   Allison Ernst

6:30 – 7:10    ARYO Orchestra                         Keigan Richard

7:15 – 8:00     Fiddle Group                            Allison Ernst

(Double bass instruction is scheduled separately with interested students; please contact us at aryostrings@gmail.com.)

If in-person teaching is permitted as the year progresses:

If we can return to in-person teaching, our program will take place at Festival Theatre in Wolfville, between 3:30 and 6:30 on Tuesday afternoons, with Instrument Clinics and Introductory Orchestra in the earlier part of the afternoon and ARYO Orchestra and Fiddle Group  following. Some of the sessions take place concurrently.


The ARYO instruction and orchestral program fee for 2019 is $150 per student (20 instruction weeks per year, September-April), with a family rate if more than one child from the same family is enrolled, as follows:

1st family member: full program fee $ 150

2nd family member: 10% reduction $135

3rd and more family members: 20% reduction $120

Acadia students special rate: $25 per term.

The Fiddle Group fee is $50 per term (2 terms per year).

Rentals: ARYO participants may rent instruments from ARYO for the duration of the program at a preferred rate of only $100 for violins and violas, or $150 for cellos, plus $50 security deposit. Instrument rental may be continued through the summer for an additional cost of $50.

Our Partnership with the Acadia School of Music

Following an invitation from the Acadia University School of Music, the Horton Community Youth Orchestra program (HCYO), which had been offered in collaboration with Horton High school for three years, moved to the Acadia University School of Music as of September 2018 and is now known as the Acadia Regional Youth Orchestra.  ARYO operates alongside the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir and the Acadia Youth Band, very successful ensembles using the Acadia School of Music facilities as well. ARYO clinics and rehearsals are held in the Festival Theatre Lobby and Stage.

Our Mission

ARYO is a Nova Scotia registered not-for-profit society.

Our defined objectives are as follows:

  1. To provide string music education and to promote string music in the Annapolis Valley
  2. To promote string and orchestra music in local and regional school programs
  3. To associate with the province of Nova Scotia’s post-secondary Music Education program through the Acadia University School of Music
  4. To collaborate with other musical groups in the Annapolis Valley Region
  5. To promote and preserve the Nova Scotian heritage of fiddle and folk music through instruction and performance

Our Instructors

Elizabeth Sircom is our 2020/21 Program Director. She works with our Introductory Orchestra and is instructor of our cello clinic.

Allison Ernst is conductor of the ARYO Orchestra and instructor of the level 2 mixed strings clinic.

Shawnee Paul is our Fiddle Group instructor.

Keigan Richard  is the instructor of the beginner violin clinic.

Join Us!

We really hope you will consider joining us at ARYO!  Our first three years at Horton High School and two years at Acadia were very successful, and we are very much looking forward to continuing our mission of offering the opportunity to learn string instruments and to play in string and full orchestra to as many students in the Annapolis Valley region as possible.

You are welcome to contact us with any questions or for more information at aryostrings@gmail.com

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ARYO recognizes the support of the Province of Nova Scotia. We are pleased to work in partnership with the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage to develop and promote our cultural resources in the Annapolis Valley region.