Each week, Krystal Van Der Staay packs a bag with her oboe and catches a bus for orchestra practice.
The Launceston-based student has been part of the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra for about a year and spends her Saturdays practising with her band-mates in Hobart.
When Miss Van Der Staay has performances, her parents travel south with her to support their daughter in her musical pursuits.
Music hasn't always been part of the Van Der Staay family's lives, but they have watched resilience and passion bloom in their daughter as she has learned musical notation and how to perform as part of a team.
Miss Van Der Staay and the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra has been at the centre of a 12-month study conducted by the University of Tasmania, which examined the benefits of non-curriculum-related music.
The TYO is hoping to expand its presence in the North, with a number of workshops scheduled to be held this year in Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.
STUDY RESULTS HIT THE HIGH NOTES
The study, conducted jointly between UTAS researcher William Baker and the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra general manager Michelle Forbes surveyed high school students who were part of the orchestra.
Dr Baker said the TYO wanted to understand the benefits of their program, which piqued his interest.
"I was interested in measuring exactly what benefits they were getting from being part of the TYO," he said.
The study followed students as they participated as part of the TYO and conducted regular surveys and interviews, to measure their emotions and how connected they felt.
Researchers surveyed 31 of the program’s young musicians who were also asked to collect and share images that reflected their TYO experiences.
Eighty-nine per cent of participants either agreed or strongly agreed that participating in the program helped them work with other people.
Meanwhile, 76 per cent agreed or somewhat agreed that being involved in the TYO helped them feel better about themselves.
"What it found was that along with the kids sharing emotional things together, they also developed skills like resilience, self-belief and the ability to overcome hurdles in abundance," Dr Baker said.
Dr Baker said the results were surprising in how much resilience the participants developed, in comparison with their peers who did not participate in music study.
“It was astonishing to find the value that these young people placed on highly rewarding, shared and emotional music-making experiences in their TYO groups,” Dr Baker said.
“The findings suggest out-of-school music programs provide opportunities for young people to engage with each other in ways they don’t get in other settings.”
Krystal's mother Julie Van Der Staay said she had seen her daughter improve her resilience during the time she had performed with the TYO.
"But it's not just that, it's skills like learning to work as a team, how to work with other people, and how to problem solve," she said.
Mrs Van Der Staay said her daughter had learned to overcome obstacles and had also developed great time management skills, because she has to work her schedule around her studies at St Patrick's College.
Miss Van Der Staay said she enjoyed playing the oboe with the orchestra because it offered her a "higher end" orchestra experience.
However, she said it was also the relationships she'd formed along the way.
"I've met so many great friends there," she said.
Miss Van Der Staay said she had been playing the oboe for about two years, and also plays the English horn when the music allows.
However, she has also played the flute since she was in grade three.
"I have always enjoyed playing music, you get to learn a whole new language, in Italian, it's good for maths s well as learning the music in general," she said.
She said while she hadn't been particularly involved in the study, she said a number of her friends had been involved.
Mrs Van Der Staay said the TYO offered a more formal orchestra experience, which is what her daughter had been looking for in her musical study.
"It gives them an idea of what to expect if they were to pursue playing in an orchestra full time," she said.
There is not an orchestra music program in Northern Tasmania, but there are several band programs.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE TYO AND THE STUDY
TYO general manager Michelle Forbes said the research highlighted the significance of the program for young people.
“Organisations like TYO can provide outlets that are not only creative but that support young people doing what they love in a safe and friendly setting,” Ms Forbes said.
“With state government support, TYO is working to make it easier for young Tasmanian musicians to get involved by offering financial assistance, a new Northern program, choir opportunities and year-round applications.”
University researchers will shortly apply for a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund to undertake an extension of the research project.
The study was supported by the Australian Society for Music Education, with the TYO receiving multi-year funding from the Education Department.