Music is immensely important in the awakening of sensibility, in the forging of values and in the training of youngsters to teach others.
— Jose Antonio Abreu, founder, El Sistema
This is the most rewarding musical project in my life; I imagine that ONE Strings will have potent long-term ramifications for those students’ lives.
—Soovin Kim, Festival Artistic Director
The Integrated Arts Academy (IAA) at the H.O. Wheeler School is an arts magnet school, one of six public elementary schools in Burlington. The school has 300 K-5 students from 23 countries, speaking 30 languages. ONE (Old North End) Strings provides in-schools strings instruction and related activities for students at the school, seeking to eliminate traditional barriers to instrument instruction. The program is inspired by El Sistema, a worldwide educational movement that has been called “the future of music.”
The 2018-19 academic year was the sixth year of ONE Strings. All 4th and 5th graders at IAA have group violin lessons twice a week for 20 weeks with violin teacher Kathleen Kono. All 3rd graders have a 6-week introduction to strings in the Spring. This program is made possible thanks to a series of grants from the Vermont Community Foundation and the Amy B. Tarrant Foundation, as well as the support of private donors and of the school’s PTO.
Soovin Kim, the Festival’s Co-Artistic Director, visits students a number of times during each school year. In celebration of LCCMF’s 10th anniversary and our Young Composers Seminary, 3 composer alums will lead composition workshops with the 5th graders this year: Nick DeBerardino, YCS ’18, in November 2018; Alistair Coleman, YCS ’17, in February 2019; and TJ Cole, YCS ’14, in April 2019.
In spring 2019, ONE Strings expanded to the Sustainbility Academy at the Lawrence Barnes School, the second magnet school in the Burlington School District, also located in Burlington’s Old North End. The 3/4 grade classes had 8 weeks of group violin lessons. This collaboration between the school and LCCMF marks an exciting expansion of this program.
What is El-Sistema?
El Sistema is a new model for social change, with music at its heart. In a parking garage in Caracas 33 years ago, Dr. José Antonio Abreu gathered together 11 children to play music. El Sistema was born. It now teaches music to 500,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them. Drawing on the work done by many El Sistema-inspired, we are building a program that is uniquely suited to the Integrated Arts Academy and to the school’s diverse community in the Old North End of Burlington.
We are currently working on assessment tools, increased curriculum integration, and professional development and training for school staff in order to build a project that is sustainable. We are renting instruments currently, but plan to begin building a library of student instruments at the school.
The Role of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival
The staff and board of the Festival are deeply committed to ONE Strings as a key part of our mission to inspire a passion for chamber music by encouraging and providing educational programs for schoolchildren.
Many thanks to the Vermont Community Foundation, the Landmann Family Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, Valerie and Bill Graham, Jody Kebabian, the school’s PTO, and our generous donors for helping to make this project possible. Thanks to Kathy Reilly and Vermont Violins for instrument rentals and to the PTO at IAA for a grant to pay for the rentals.
On March 6, 2014, representatives from the collaborating organizations discussed ONE Strings on the Commissioners’ Corner program. Participants included Rosina Cannizzaro, ED of the VYOA, Kathleen Kono, ONE Strings violin teacher, Joe Cleary, parent of two IAA students, Bobby Riley, Principal, and Victor Prussak, Coordinator of Magnet Schools for the Burlington School District.