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 up to 285 students from 23 countries, speaking 30 languages, and it houses the district STEP program for newcomers. They are a Title 1 school where more than 50% of our students qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. 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.”

In a typical year, all 4th and 5th graders at IAA have group violin lessons twice a week for 20 weeks with violin teachers Kathleen Kono and Rachel Keyser. All 3rd graders have a 6-week introduction to strings in the spring. Soovin Kim, LCCMF Co-Artistic Director, often visits the school, and our Resident Ensemble and participants in our Young Composer Seminar also make frequent classroom visits. This program has been 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.

COVID-19

The 2019-20 academic year was the seventh year of ONE Strings (and the year that our very first ONE Strings students graduated from high school). IAA closed in-person learning in March 2020, cutting off the last 3 weeks of the 4th and 5th grade programs and cancelling the 3rd grade program. In September students returned to school on a 2-day-per-week schedule, which didn’t leave enough time during the school day for ONE Strings instruction.

ONE Strings program resumed on a limited basis in January 2021. We were also able to schedule multiple online workshops in the winter of 2020-21 with LCCMF former resident ensemble member Rebecca Anderson and her cellist partner Alan Richardson.

The 2021-22 school year had many ups and downs, but we were able to return to our original format and programming.

We so appreciate the patience and love of the IAA teachers and staff in finding time for their students to have strings instruction during these challenging times.

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.

As a parting gift to Executive Director Jody Woos on her retirement in 2021, the LCCMF board created an endowment to ensure the continued funding of the ONE Strings program. This endowment reflects Jody’s commitment to this wonderful program.

Thank you!

Many thanks to the Vermont Community Foundation, the Landmann Family Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, Valerie 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.