Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

The Florida Orchestra, led by music director Michael Francis, will offer introductory violin lessons this summer to at-risk kids in some Hillsborough County recreation centers. [MICHELE MILLER |  TIMES]
The Florida Orchestra, led by music director Michael Francis, will offer introductory violin lessons this summer to at-risk kids in some Hillsborough County recreation centers. [MICHELE MILLER | TIMES]
Published May 17
Updated May 18

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.

An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for six weeks of violin instruction by orchestra musicians who will teach students one-on-one. Three violinists will teach up to a dozen students in 90-minute classes over six weeks. The grant money also will cover instruments and supplies.

This is a win-win and something to build upon. For the students, itís a remarkable opportunity to experience the joy of holding and playing an instrument. They will spend time with professional musicians they probably do not get to see playing at the Straz. Whether these kids become concert violinists isnít the point. Studies show arts education can help students become more well-rounded and indirectly learn other skills, and there is a favorable link to academic performance. Besides that, itís fun.

For the orchestra, this is another chance to continue to expand its reach and develop relationships in the community outside the regionís concert halls. That has been a priority for music director Michael Francis, and it extends the orchestraís brand while exposing more residents to the joys of music. Besides that, itís fun.

Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, once wrote the violin is the "most human of all instruments...íí That reflects the spirit of this wonderful opportunity for the kids and the orchestraís gifted musicians to connect and learn about worlds different from their own.

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