ASTRO is performing on the Chapel stage as the teacher-conductor conducts in front of the ensemble.

The Academy String Orchestra (ASTRO) is for students in grades 5-8 who wish to begin to perform orchestral music. Emphases include the development of reading and ensemble skills. ASTRO's schedule includes weekly rehearsals (two 10-week semesters) and a performance in November and March. ASTRO is the preparatory orchestra for the Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra program; administrators and teacher-conductors in each organization work together to ensure the highest quality opportunities for students in the Fox Valley region.

As a general rule, students spend a minimum of two years in ASTRO before moving to the Fox Valley Symphony's Philharmonia Orchestra.  This is particularly true for students whose schools teach strings in small group lesson formats rather than in full orchestral settings, and for students in grades 5 or 6.

Students registered for Academy ensembles are also expected to participate in a curricular (during the school day, for credit) performing musical ensemble when available; ASTRO should not substitute for curricular music programs.

Auditions and Registration

Auditions for the 2020-21 season will be held on Sunday, April 26. There is no cost to audition. Click the button below to register for an audition. Click here to view the audition requirements.

Request an Audition

Returning ASTRO students need not register for an audition and may register for the 2020-21 season by clicking the button below.

Register (Current Students Only)

Tuition assistance is available to families who demonstrate financial need.


  • Practice Suggestions
    • Fiddles Out West
      • "Hooked" bowings in several spots in all parts
      • Key change from measure 29 to 37
    • Two Songs of Newfoundland
      • "Swallow"
        • position shifts in cello:  ms. 15-32 & ms. 49-53
      • "Soiree"
        • 6/8 time signature
        • position shifts and extensions in violin 1 (ms. 40), cello and bass (ms. 49-52)
    • Rollin' Along
      • Lots of "pizzicato" for all instruments; note especially the "pizz/slap" in cellos and bass and left-hand pizzicato in violin and viola
      • Position shifts and extensions in cello (ms. 22-33)
      • Key change at ms. 33
    • Night Shift
      • Position shifts in violin 1, viola, low strings
      • Pizzicato in all parts
      • Playing each quarter note as four 16th notes from ms. 37-40 in all parts
    • Saturday at the Symphony
      • ​"Hooked" bowings in all parts:  sometimes with 2 quarter notes and sometimes dotted quarter note paired with eighth note

2019-20 Calendar

Click the button below to view a draft of the 2019-20 ASTRO calendar. Please note that the calendar will be updated in the fall.

2019-20 Calendar

Policies and Materials

Registration in an Academy program indicates your understanding and acceptance of our guidelines. In addition to the Academy guidelines, please click through the subjects below to read about ASTRO-specific policies and required materials.

Electronics Policy
Cell phones, iPods, electronic readers, and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited during ensemble rehearsals and back stage during concerts. If a family emergency takes place during a rehearsal or concert, please contact the ensemble manager.
Orchestra Materials
  • Students should bring their folder and a pencil to all rehearsals.
  • All folders and music are the property of the Lawrence Academy of Music and should be returned at the end of each semester or when the student leaves the ensemble.
  • Students new to the program will receive a tote bag that becomes theirs. 
  • Additional or replacement bags can be purchased through the Academy at the cost of $8 plus tax.
  • Violinists, please have an extra E string in your case.
  • Cellists/bassists, please have a rock stop.
Concert Attire
  • Students should wear a white shirt (elbow-length or longer) with black or dark bottoms; no jeans or tennis shoes.
  • If a student wishes to wear a skirt, the skirt should be knee length or longer when seated and non-patterned.
  • Students may wear ties.

A smiling student plays pizzicato on her string instrumentthree cello students play pizzicato during the ASTRO concertTwo students leaning up against their string basses, posing and smiling for the camera