But with the average performer in the second and third grades, she concedes, “It’s a very young, adorable group.” Pascale created the youth orchestras six years ago, when she moved from New York to South Pasadena, and found that the local schools had no orchestra program before high school. Her Strings program also oversees the public South Pasadena Middle School Orchestra as well as private training and advanced-level orchestras. Two years ago, Pascale secured the South Pasadena Middle School Orchestra a spot in a Carnegie Hall performance, which she calls “the biggest thrill of everybody’s lives.” Most of those students had worked their way through the ranks of the elementary school orchestra. “It was really amazing,” said 13-year-old Elise Blnilla-Myers, a South Pasadena Middle School eighth- grader. “I never expected I would play in such a great hall.” And in 2009, she will be taking another group of her best students back for an encore performance. On a Thursday afternoon, the elementary orchestra assembled in their music room at South Pasadena Middle School amid much fidgeting and whispering. Then Pascale reminded her musicians about Carnegie. Suddenly, the slouching violinists and cellists were sitting ramrod straight, everybody ready to play. Once the music began, it became hard to believe the room contained the same small children. Eight-year-old cellist Riza Weinstein is working toward joining the elementary orchestra soon. She had no problem deciding on her instrument, which is not much smaller than she is. The deep sound of a cello appealed to her, and more importantly, “with violin you have to hold the thing up.” Weinstein said she loves playing with her peers. “It gives me the feeling that I have a lot of fun,” she said. In the third grade, “I feel like I’m like finally a musician.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300 Ext. 4494160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The private orchestra, run by the South Pasadena Strings program, is one of the few in the region providing musicians under the age of 10 the opportunity to try out for and perform in a full-fledged orchestra. “It’s real fun,” said Nemiro, now a third-grader at Marengo Elementary School School. “You get to play with the group.” Orchestral programs were among the first casualties of budget cuts in many California school districts during the past three decades of belt-tightening. Today, training young musicians has largely been left to outside providers. Still, there are few opportunities for the youngest children, some of whom are just as talented as their slightly elders – even if their feet don’t reach the floor during performances. “There are so many gifted children – it’s not by age, it’s by ability,” said Susan Pascale, founder of the Strings program. SOUTH PASADENA – Sara Nemiro first heard the sound of a violin on a car radio and instantly knew she had to play. But her mother said she would have to wait until she was older. So she started at 4. Nemiro is now one of 37 pint-size performers who perform with the South Pasadena Elementary School Orchestra.