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.
By November, the school district decided to move to 4 days per week of instruction, and we began planning with the IAA staff for a strings program that could be safe and inclusive for everyone. As a result, we started a compressed ONE Strings program in January 2021. That consisted of 6 weeks of in-person instruction once per week for all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. This is testimony to the value the classroom teachers place on ONE Strings – that they are willing to give up instruction time when it is so extraordinarily precious!
In the winter of 2020, students at IAA had wonderful sessions with LCCMF former resident ensemble member Rebecca Anderson and her cellist partner Alan Richardson. This 3-part Zoom series supplements the strings program at this critical time.
As of fall 2021, IAA is open for in-person learning with masking required for all students and staff, and protocols to return to virtual learning for intervals in the case of a COVID exposure. 4th and 5th graders at IAA will receive 16 weeks of string instruction, and all 3rd graders will have a 6-week introduction to strings in the spring.
El Sistema is a new model for social change, with music at its heart. In a parking garage in Caracas 46 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 organizations, 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.
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 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.