Gaining music for life through OURchestra |

Gaining music for life through OURchestra

Leia Larsen
Joan Shaw instructs strings students, from left, Bixby Doughtery, Nikki Dresen and Zane Morales during an OURchestra practice on Friday morning, Oct. 11. Joan and her husband Roger have been heading the youth orchestra to give local youth an opportunity to play in a string ensemble.
Leia Larsen |

TABERNASH – Every other Friday, the sound of strings drifts from the musical room at the Church of the Eternal Hills.

Professional musicians Joan Shaw, 80, and Roger Shaw, 79, eagerly hoped to share their expertise with local children, especially after learning Grand County schools don’t offer a string program. Four months ago, they formed a small classical ensemble, calling it “OURchestra.”

“It’s a life skill,” Joan said. “I’m hoping we’ll find more kids who need an outlet.”

The OURchestra currently has four students: Zane Morales, 10, Nikki Dresen, 12, Morgan Shaw, 13, and Bixby Doughtery, 14. Bixby’s older sister, Lily, also briefly performed with the group before leaving to study abroad in Europe. Most of the kids take private lessons from Lynn Gamble, a violinist who comes up twice a month from Conifer. The Shaws knew Gamble from playing at weddings together.

“These kids have stuck to it,” Joan said. “I was so impressed, but realized they had no place to play and no group experience.”

The OURchestra offers one of the few opportunities for young kids to gain that experience locally.

The Shaws met in high school orchestra. They’ve lived in Buffalo, Chicago and St. Louis. As professional musicians, the couple performed in classical orchestras, string ensembles, Dixeland bands and big bands. They moved to Grand County to retire 17 years ago and began performing for local weddings.

The Shaws welcome all ability levels to the OURchestra, as long as students can read music and have basic playing skills.

“I like how all the different instruments create a really cool sound,” Nikki said.

The young musicians all agree finding time to practice is the hardest part about playing in an orchestra. But they also agree practice pays off.

“It’s rewarding after you put effort into to it, to hear what comes out,” Vixby said.

For the Shaws, learning to read and play music takes effort, but is an important and positive part of youngsters’ education.

“The kids who take orchestra are a cut above, it’s a positive association,” Roger said. “It’s a lifetime fun activity.”

Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.