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Hard work pays off: Pike seventh grader selected to Fort Worth Youth Orchestra

Picture of Zoe holding her viola

“My mom and dad encouraged me to practice my viola daily for at least 30 minutes. If I didn’t take their advice and make that decision every day, I don’t think I would have been selected.”

Pike Middle School seventh-grader Zoe Banis’s hard work has paid off, as she was recently selected to the Junior Strings ensemble for the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. Only six viola players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area were chosen to participate in the 50-person orchestra.

Picture of Zoe playing the viola

Banis has been playing the viola for only one year, starting in a beginner viola class while in 6th grade. Banis quickly advanced, and is now enrolled in Pike Middle School’s chamber orchestra. 

“I really enjoy playing the viola because not that many people play it,” said Banis. “I’ve learned a lot about music and playing an instrument from all my teachers here at Pike, including Mrs. Hoffner.” 

Banis was nervous for her audition with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, but she persevered after weeks of private lessons, and many takes of audition recordings. 

“My private lesson teacher Mrs. Jarvis and I would go over the two audition songs all the time,” said Banis. “I kept messing up a lot on the notes at first but, eventually I was able to do it. My dad had to record me playing so many times and it was very exhausting. During part of my song, I had to play 16th note slurs and that was probably the hardest part.”

Picture of sheet music on a stand

Banis heads to Fort Worth weekly to practice with the other 49 members of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. The ensemble is currently practicing Joust by Richard Meyer, Irish Tune from County Derry (Danny Boy) by Anthony Maiello, and Legend of the Knight by Chris Thomas. 

The Fort Worth Youth Orchestra will perform four concerts over the next year, with two in the fall — located at The University of North Texas and Texas Christian University — and two additional concerts in the spring. 

“Being one of the six violas in the Junior Strings section makes me feel like all of my hard work and dedication has actually paid off,” said Banis.

To learn more about the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, please visit