Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a community orchestra?
A Community Orchestra is a musical ensemble/organization made up of volunteer (non-paid) amateur musicians in a particular geographic area.

Who are the players in the orchestra?
The orchestra is made up of people with different backgrounds and abilities.  They are people in the community who have an interest and ability to play an instrument perform in an orchestra.  Orchestra members are not professional musicians; they do not make their living primarily from their musical pursuits nor are they paid for their participation in the orchestra.  They may or may not have had some professional training and background in music, or may simply have taken lessons on an instrument in their youth, have gone on in life into other activities– like raising a family or developing a career outside of music, and now wish to re-experience their love of playing great music.

How do I found out more about playing in the orchestra?
Contact our music director or the Castro Valley Adult School.

Depending on our concert repertoire and existing instrumentation, we may not have a space for you to play with us for an upcoming concert.  Generally speaking, string players (violin, viola, cello, and bass) are more likely to find spots as there are more strings in an orchestra than other instruments (flutes, clarinets, etc.).  This does not mean you should not inquire!  We are always looking for instruments of every category.

How well do I have to play in order to play in the orchestra?
You should certainly have played your instrument at an intermediate to advanced level in the past, or aspire to play at a more advanced level.  A good way to see if you would fit in is to come to one of our rehearsals so we can hear how you play, and you can see if, with a little practice, you can perform with us.  We generally play standard orchestra repertoire (Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) but also are known to go out on a limb and play contemporary and not-so-well-known composers.

You do not have to play perfectly. Your enthusiasm and passion for music are also an important component is fitting in.

What is the relationship between the Adult School (CV Career and Education) and the Orchestra Association?
The Castro Valley Career and Education (Adult School) is the post-high school educational arm of the Castro Valley Unified School District.  The Orchestra is a class of that school.

The Castro Valley Orchestra Association is an independent California 501(c)3 (non-profit) corporation that manages the orchestra and works with the Adult School in the operations of the class.

Can I simply make a monetary donation to the Orchestra?
Yes, we love donations. Since the CV Orchestra Association is a California 501(c)3 organization, any donations to the Orchestra Association are tax deductible (see your tax advisor for any details!).  Donations to the Association are used strictly for the orchestra’s benefit; renting music or paying honorariums to soloists, or to underwrite partial class fees for musicians who would not otherwise be able to play in the orchestra.

How do I get in touch with the Orchestra Association?
We can be reached by email at, or, or call the Adult School office (510-886-1000).  Someone from the orchestra will be in touch with you shortly!