The NSPC is actively involved in seeking grants and gifts to assist the current String Project sites in continuing to provide high-quality education and training, and also help provide start-up assistance to those institutions seeking to create new sites. Since 1999, the NSPC has received grants totaling approximately $2.3 million from FIPSE (US Department of Education), the NEA, Knight Foundation, Psaras Foundation, Heller Foundation, D’Addario Foundation, NABIM, NAMM, Strings Magazine, the Dana Foundation, and Yamaha.
Currently, we have five emerging sites in California, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. Two approved sites are awaiting funding and we have another application round due at the end of every year.
Since its inception, the National String Project Consortium (NSPC) has been responsible for the stringed instrument education of well over 8,000 children of public school age in 43 sites around the United States. The NSPC’s teacher training program has reached over 600 String Music Education students in the sponsoring colleges and universities and assisted with the education of over 250 new public school teachers in the past five years alone.
String students and teachers are growing.
Another sign of the success of the NSPC is the growth in the total number of students and teachers involved in these String Projects over the years. Currently there are 42 active String Project sites located in 23 states. There are seven sites in Texas, four in California, and three in Georgia and Pennsylvania. The highest number of students at a String Project is 402 at Arizona State University. The average number of students at a site is 91. The figures below show the overall numbers of students in NSPC programs.
Impacting String Education.
The Success of the NSPC String Projects
One sign of the success of the NSPC is that 81% of the String Projects in the NSPC had success in increasing the number of music education majors at their school.
80% of college graduating String Project student teachers are still teaching (2015 site survey). This percentage is highly positive, as research shows that 40–50% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years (Kinsey, Riley, others)
Arizona State: An email from a parent:
“A few more positive notes to share with you and to highlight how you and the String Project touched and changed my girls for lifetime. My youngest daughter used to sit on a bucket in group orchestra because she was so young and little with her 1/2 size cello then. The older girl recently receives "the outstanding cellist" honor from her current [charter] school, for her love to play the cello and always being available to help in her orchestra class. She also plays for the Youth Symphony and is accepted to Intermediate String Orchestra by Interlochen Music Camp this year. You and the String Project offer her the opportunity to excel when we cannot afford expensive private lessons. The girls plan to start a music and art foundation to bring performing music to ill children in the hospitals. They will volunteer in music therapy and play music in children's hospitals. They will bring their youth sized cellos to give hands-on experiences. Furthermore, they will partner with school honors societies with a big goal for nationwide expansion to provide a platform for other student musicians to give back to the communities. Hence, all instruments will be available and accessible to the children. This project is already underway with solid planning and will carry out many actions in the coming years. Both of them believe in giving back to the community. You have been such a great role model and inspiration to them. I wanted to share all these with you because you and String Project truly have touched our life deeply and made so much positive and deep impacts on our children in so many ways. They appreciate music and are good citizens with commitments for excellence and volunteerism. I will keep you posted on the progress of the good work these two girls are going to bring to the community.”
We have a beginner bass student that is very enthusiastic! He came in adamant that he was going to play bass, and that bass is a cool instrument to play. His family went to a University Symphony concert. He wore a shirt with Beethoven on it and wanted to sit right in front of the bass section. He comes to every class super excited and ready to play!
This fall, two of our NSPC community student 'graduates' are attending the Crane School of Music to major in Music Education and Music Business. We are beyond happy and proud to consider that NSP was instrumental in forming their identity as a musician as well as their career path.
This year 28 of our 2nd-6th-grade students participated in the NYSSMA Solo festival - all earning outstanding or excellent ratings. Ten students are members of our after school Electric Strings group which performed with the 7-12 grade public school students at a Mark Wood workshop/concert in June.
The kids did a wonderful job performing Holiday music for a local television station and playing the National Anthem at the baseball game. In both cases our hosts could not believe how good they sounded and really congratulated the kids - they were thrilled to be in front of real crowds of people (up on the sports stadium big screens) and see themselves on TV!
Our top-level String Project ensemble, Sinfonietta, had 24 students enrolled for 2017-2018 and celebrated its fourth year being in operation. The class had its first social event at the end of the spring semester: pizza party, games, and a night with their teacher at the NKU Philharmonic Orchestra concert (the university orchestra that includes their teaching assistants and the NKU String Project Director). The Sinfonietta students (mostly 11–14 years of age) left the concert saying they had never seen such a good orchestra, so many string players, wondered how they audition for college when it's time, etc. One cellist, who had announced a few weeks prior that she would be quitting cello after the spring concert, decided right there that she was taking lessons over the summer and wanted to know how to audition for college. She's only in 7th grade!
A number of students who began in String Project several years ago are now PMAY Artists, a special support plan for 10 Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) organizations, including Temple Music Prep. The Mellon Foundation is sponsoring this initiative to increase the participation of under-represented communities in classical music. These former string project students are making great strides and participating in higher level orchestras at a rapidly increasing pace. The performances tell the story: December, 2017 Winter Concert
The SP has seen students from families in our area who would have never been able to afford string instruction for their families.
This year we had a differently-abled student in our Grade 3-5 Beginning class, which originally presented significant issues with classroom management and structuring the class for the best experience possible for all involved. We struggled with whether or not to keep this student in the class, but it became clear that the ensemble element was what engaged her and we committed to making it work. Our master teachers worked with our lead and assistant teachers in the class to come up with a weekly plan for getting this young lady through the class material, and although her physical challenges didn't enable her to put bow on string she WAS able to perform by playing pizzicato with her class in both semester-end concerts. Her parents were so grateful for how hard our teachers worked to give their daughter this experience, telling us with tear-filled eyes how much it meant to them for their child to be seen and treated as a part of the class. Our teachers learned so much in the process, too - they now feel prepared to handle a much broader variety of situations in the classroom!
This year we had a young man who was having problems with his baseball coach scheduling baseball practice on top of String Project class. After several meetings with the coach and his parents, the parents contacted us to see what else could be done. The student was devastated that this was happening and the parents wanted some help. We worked it out so that the sectional coach would give the student private lessons each week to make up for the group classes and he would attend group class as possible. He has returned to string project recently and reflected about how thankful he was for the string project and his teacher! He can't wait for orchestra in the public school this coming year!
U of Arizona:
Without our String Project, 3/4 of our students would not be learning a string instrument in our community. 77.77% of parents reported their students probably would not or definitely would not have access to orchestra if not enrolled in String Project. These results show that the majority of the students in the sample have either low or no access to private lessons or orchestra.
U of Georgia:
We had a young third grader who started on violin three years ago in String Project. He decided he didn't like the violin and started over the next year on the cello. That was a much better fit for him, but he still struggled with reading music. There was a start of a breakthrough in his understanding of what the symbols meant by the end of that second year, but we really saw him blossom this year. He started to love playing enough to practice diligently at home. It was fun to watch him make such strides in his reading and all other aspects of his playing. He was the only cellist this semester and he did a great job in the final performance.
U of Nebraska, Kearney:
One day, during beginner's cello group lesson, the student teacher was looking for me because our youngest cellist group wanted to play a piece for me. They sounded great and they seemed so happy to perform for me. It made my day!!!! It is so important that students learn the joy of playing string instruments with their classmates as a team.
U of North Texas:
From one of my students: “Our new Eclectic Styles Orchestra has been great. I have known these kids for a couple of years now and it was cool to see a few of them really come out of their shells when we improvised.”
U of Northern Colorado:
We think it is heart-warming that 1/3 of our students are on full need-based scholarship (for their participation fee), 1/3 are on half need-based scholarship, and 1/3 are able to pay full price. 5 students were able to procure their own instruments and the other 20 are using university-owned instruments for a nominal rental fee. We are very proud that we have been able to take care of all our students no matter their financial need.
U of Redlands:
One girl broke her arm early in the winter term. She had to miss over two months of the program, and I would have expected her to not return late in the term. However, with 3 or 4 weeks to go in the term she returned because she insisted she wanted to be part of the end-of-year concert program. That's dedication, and it tells me that what we're doing is of interest to the students (and their parents) in this area.
U of South Carolina:
We have a father and two brothers that spend time bonding together within the same orchestra program.
U of Texas, Austin:
This year, we have three graduating high schools seniors who have been a part of our program for many years. Two of these students will be continuing on to pursue Music Education degrees. The other student has defeated many odds and has had multiple surgical operations done on his hearing while being a part of our program - he will continue on in college to play in the University Orchestra at his new school. We love to see how our students grow throughout our program, but we especially love seeing them go on out into the world to continue loving and pursuing music!
U of Texas, El Paso:
One great success story centers on a little girl in 2nd grade who plays violin in our project. She was really struggling in school, so her mother was going to take her out of the project. However, her mother saw that the string Project was really helping her daughter with discipline and focus and that participating in the String Project at UTEP made her daughter really happy. For this reason, her mother left her in the project and I am pleased to report that she is flourishing in school and music!
Valdosta St. (South Georgia S.P.):
A SGSP parent:
The SGSP has helped our reserved daughter to come out of her shell and go onto the stage. Music has given her confidence. She is often caught talking to peers about her music or volunteering for something at school now. Math skills have doubled, and there is a scientific link between music and mathematics. She loves her violin, and SGSP has provided a cost-friendly, family-friendly way for her to meet other children who enjoy music! Her teachers have phenomenal patience and find new ways to connect to the children every day! It has been amazing to watch these children who could not tell you what a bow was at the beginning blossom and be able to read music, understand variations in scales, and play full orchestral pieces together! SGSP will be where we bring out the next "strings" child, for sure!
I have been with SGSP for a year. I play the violin. I was asked why I like the SGSP and how it has helped me and why the program is important. I have epilepsy also called a seizure disorder. 6 years ago I had a 5 hour prolong life-threatening seizure, I almost died and suffered a brain injury as a result of that seizure. For the past six years, I have had a lot of therapy to help me with problems I have because of the brain injury and seizures. About a year ago I was really struggling in school and having a lot of anxiety and frustration. I was failing the third grade. My occupational therapist suggested to my mom and dad that they get me started in some kind of music lesson and my neurologist said that music would be one of the best ways to help my brain recover. We were told about the SGSP and mom and dad looked into it. I always loved the violin and dreamed of playing someday. SGSP is so important to me because it has helped me, I went from failing to now passing the fourth grade, I went from hardly being able to read at a third-grade level to reading at a 5th-grade level. Being able to play has helped my anxiety and social skills. I will always have some things I will have to struggle with due to my brain injury but playing the violin has helped my brain to be able to start healing better and has helped me learn to cope with my disabilities. I hope to continue with SGSP for a long time and I want to say thank you to the SGSP for helping me and giving me a chance to fulfill my dream of learning the
The South Georgia Strong project is a program that teaches participants more than how to play a string instrument. It teaches about being a part of a community of musicians, supporting each other, as well as working and performing together to become better musicians. Participants have the opportunity to learn from seasoned musicians, college students studying music, and each other in this pursuit. They also learn how to appreciate and become patrons of the arts. I am so thrilled that my daughter has had the opportunity to be a part of this phenomenal program.
The South Georgia String Project has been a wonderful opportunity for our family. As parents of a boy and a girl, it can prove challenging to take both children to different gender preferred activities. Being employed full time means we have very limited free time for activities other than the children’s school, and being able to take our children to violin lessons has been the perfect option for us. They learn to love a style of music that many young people don’t have an appreciation for, the group lessons allow them to interact with other children similar in age who share this interest, and the affordable cost of the program allows people with average incomes like us to enroll their children in these classes which otherwise they would have likely not been able to afford. Thank you for supporting this program, it truly does make a difference in our community.