Help with starting a new strings program

Hope said: Jul 31, 2014
Hope Smith
Suzuki Association Member
Jonesboro, AR
3 posts

Dear Colleagues,

I have been approached about starting a new Suzuki strings program in a charter school in the Arkansas Delta. This is a highly underserved population with over 85% participation in the National School lunch program. They don’t have budgeted funding to start this program.

I am very eager to bring the joy of the Suzuki Method to this population, and so far, we have the support of the school Principle and their music teacher.

I am reaching out to you all for advice, suggestions on how to start this program, how to raise funds, as well as procure more instruments should it grow and thrive.

Thank you!!

Janie said: Aug 1, 2014
 Violin, Recorder, Viola
Glenwood Springs, CO
16 posts

Hello Hope. I teach in a school much like the one you have described. Low income, underserved, underrepresented, but eager to learn. We have several organizations in our community that support youth and/or the arts. One is a youth foundation whose mission is to serve the low income portion of our otherwise wealthy area. They sponsor an after school program that offers many “classes” the kids can participate in from the end of school until 5:00, then a bus takes them home. They pay the teachers’ wages for these 2 hours, and there is a nominal fee for the families of the kids who participate. There is another organization that purchases instruments for the school. The school retains ownership of the instruments, and the kids use them while they are in the program. The kids get group classes once a week for the duration of the school year. Before the recession, there were also summer lessons. We have another organization in the area that will pay for private lessons for students in group classes. The organization pays for 12 private lessons per year per student. It’s not like full time private lessons, but it is helpful. Some symphony orchestras will help sponsor programs like this.

The first place to look, I’m sure you have already done, would be the music teachers, music stores and any local music organizations. They might know of organizations offering this kind of help. In my state, Colorado, NPR does an instrument drive every year. They ask for people to donate instruments that are not being used, then they distribute them to groups that request them.

There are national organizations that sponsor programs like this. I don’t know any of the names, but a google search might be helpful. Local charitable groups might help, like the Elks, Rotary and the like. Each time you ask, even if you get a “no”, the person you talk to might refer you to someone else, and might eventually lead you to the one who will say “yes”. Be sure to ask any orchestras in your area, professional or community. Somewhere out there is someone wanting to help.

Our program is hailed by all as being excellent, well run and much loved. The kids are allowed to start in first grade and can continue through high school. We have no strings programs in any of our schools, so this is their only opportunity to learn a stringed instrument in our area.

I hope you make this work. Keep us posted.



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