Music Enrichment & Extra-Curricular Opportunities

In addition to the 20 different music classes which are offered at Walnut Hills, there are a host of other opportunities to play, perform, or compete in musical endeavors. Some of these will be school related activities, such as class trips. Others are community venues, which our music teachers encourage students to participate in as a way of enhancing their skills and expanding their musical horizons.

Students, particularly in the upper level classes, are strongly encouraged to participate in the adjudicated events sponsored by the Ohio Music Educators’ Association (OMEA). Solo & Ensemble events, for junior and senior high ages, are excellent opportunities to push skills and receive constructive critiques from top notch music educators in our area. Audition entry events, such as Honor Bands, and various youth orchestras & symphonies, are also an incredibly enriching experience.

Additional information on these opportunities is available from your music teacher.

Included here is information about the primary activities & venues we can connect you with. Others often come up about which your music teacher can give you details.

OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association)

Serious music students are strongly encouraged to participate at least once in a music competition or adjudicated event. Such an experience can give a student that extra “push” to take their skills to the next level. Most of these opportunities include constructive critiques of their performances by experienced music educators or musicians. Below are some of the most accessible and common opportunities in our area.

OMEA hosts a number of events throughout the year, for various age groups. Most of these are “adjudicated” events, which means that students are heard by a judge, or group of judges, and given a performance rating, along with commentary. The students are in essence competing against themselves – i.e. there is no 1’st, 2nd, or 3rd place per se. Below is general information about their primary events, or you can find out more at their website Click on “events” tab in the navigation bar to access details about adjudicated events.

Solo & Ensemble

The Senior High Solo & Ensemble Competition for our district (14) takes place on a Saturday in late January or early February. Registration forms are due to the Music Office in mid-December (with fee!). At this level, students must select a piece to perform from an approved song list (which can be found at the OMEA website). There are various events based on level of difficulty. Students can choose to compete individually in solo events, or put together a small group for an ensemble (most students participate in the solo events). There are both instrumental and vocal events. Soloists usually use a piano accompanist. A private teacher or class teacher can help with song selection and setting up the accompanist – the music department has two or three we commonly retain, who are familiar with working with students.. It is the student’s responsibility to pay the accompanist for their time – usually $40 - $50, to cover the day of the event, and one or two rehearsals beforehand. We make a concerted effort to arrange rehearsals during the day and at school a week or two before the competition. Download the competition entry form.

Junior High Solo & Ensemble is held later in the spring – March or April – registration forms are due late February or early March. The structure is similar to the senior high event, with the exception that you do not need to pick a piece to play from a song list – just specify a composition from a method book or recent performance which demonstrates your skills. Again, it is advisable to use an accompanist, and we can help you set that up. Download the competition entry form.

Rating is done on a scale of I to V, with I being “superior”, the top rating. Walnut participants consistently receive scores of I or II.

N.B. Be sure and check your calendar for potential conflicts (e.g. SAT testing) before signing up, as the entrance fee is non-refundable once submitted.

Southwest Regional Orchestra (SWRO)
SW Regional Orchestra is an assemblage of young musicians from southwestern Ohio high schools, selected by audition. They can be string, woodwind, or percussion players. This is a three-day event – a read through, one day of rehearsal, and a fall concert. Top seated string players in this orchestra will qualify to participate in the OMEA All-State Orchestra concert held at the OMEA convention later in the year. Auditions take place in early fall – visit for application forms, excerpts, and schedules, or you can see Mr. Caliguri for additional information.

Honor Band
This is an extremely worthwhile experience for the serious music student. Participants are accepted by audition, and then meet with some of the best young instrumentalists in the greater Cincinnati area over the course of three intensive rehearsals, culminating in a final public performance. The event takes place in either December or January, for both Junior High and Senior High students, who rehearse separately, but perform at the same final concert. Auditions take place well before that, so contact your band director during fall semester if you are interested in participating.

Honor Jazz Band
An even similar to Honor Band, but designed for young jazz musicians. Students interested in participating should see your band director for details.

Special Performance Groups

Below are some of the ensembles which are open to students in the Cincinnati area. Young musicians who are interested in finding additional performance groups to participate in are encouraged to check these out.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO)
The Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO), under the direction of CSO Assistant Conductor Gene Chang, is made up of students in grades 9–12 who represent over 30 high schools in southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, and northern Kentucky.

Founded in 1964 by former CSO Music Director Max Rudolf and area music educators, the CSYO is dedicated to the cultivation of student talent, and provides outstanding young instrumentalists the opportunity to perform repertoire not normally available through their school music programs.

Rehearsals Students attend weekly rehearsals at the College-Conservatory of Music, are invited to attend CSO concerts at Music Hall, study with CSO musicians in sectionals held several times throughout the season, and give concert performances, often with peer soloists chosen through the CSYO Concerto Competition.

Joint Concert with CSO An annual highlight of the season is the CSO/CSYO Joint Concert performed at Music Hall.

Participation Talented band and orchestra students are selected by audition at the end of August for the upcoming school year to participate in this year long performance group, mentored by the Cincinnati Symphony

CSO Nouveau Chamber Players
This is a new classical ensemble program launched by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, designed to encourage minority students to participate in classical music performance, and serve as a possible springboard for careers into classical music. It is a part of their outreach program Sound Discoveries: Music for Career. This select six person chamber music group is open by audition to area middle and high school students – for more details and contact information visit: .

College Conservatory of Music

Below are some of the audition-entry programs run out of the CCM Prep Department. Their audition dates will be at the end of summer or right at the beginning of the new school year, so if interested begin planning at the end of the previous school year.

Starling Chamber Orchestra
A 25 member ensemble of top young performers pulled from the Cincinnati Starling Project, under the direction of Kurt Sassmannshaus and associated with UC’s College Conservatory of Music, this prestigious group practices and performs year round. They are world-renowned and travel internationally to perform and record. For additional information and enrollment contacts, visit

Cincinnati Junior Youth Wind Ensemble (Jr CYWE) and Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble (CYWE)
Junior CYWE is open to 7th & 8th grade band musicians, and is designed to supplement their school band experience. They meet throughout the school year on Sunday evenings for mandatory rehearsals, and participate in two full concerts (late winter and early spring). Auditions take place early in September. There is a registration fee, and participants are strongly encouraged to take private lessons as well. Schedules and details can be found at their website:

CYWE is the only extra-curricular wind ensemble for high school students (grades 9-12) in the Cincinnati area. The group is under the direction of Dr. Ann Porter, and students will develop and further enhance their musical talents through participation in full rehearsals, small group sectionals, and chamber ensembles. Also operated under the auspices of CCM’s Prep Program, they likewise meet for rehearsals on Sunday evenings during the school year, and participate in joint concerts with JrCYWE. Please visit their website for additional information about auditions, schedules, and fees:

Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky Youth Orchestra (NKYO)
An audition-entry large symphony orchestra for string, wind & percussion players, grades 7-12, operating out of the NKU Music Preparatory Department. For additional details visit:

Walnut Hills Extra-curricular Performance Groups

Walnut Hills offers students opportunities to participate in a number of performance activities beyond their classroom experience. Several are listed below, but others may come up during the course of the school year.

WHHS Pit Orchestras
Walnut has the student talent to draw upon to be able to use live orchestras for our musical productions. Orchestra teacher Mr. John Caliguri is usually the director for these pit orchestras – contact him at if you have an interest in participating in any of this year’s productions.
US News - America's Best High Schools - Ranked 65th in USA and awarded Gold Medal status.
Newsweek - America's Best High Schools 2010 - Walnut Hills Ranked 66th in USA and #1 in Ohio!