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Fourth and fifth graders get inspired by String Project and Joshua Bell

Music education students share their passion with Joseph Keels Elementary

To further inspire children who studied violin at the University of South Carolina String Project, co-sponsored by the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, 20 fourth and fifth graders from Joseph Keels Elementary (JKE) got to attend a Joshua Bell concert in Atlanta and meet him afterwards, inspiring the children at a whole new level.

The partnership, a vision of Mrs. Alvera Butler, JKE's principal, and Dr. Gail Barnes, USC's music education professor, was launched to provide underserved students with violin instruction and concurrently to provide music education undergraduates experience in teaching children with diverse backgrounds.

JKE is a Title 1 school with a high concentration of students whose parents may not have the means to fund this extra activity. Students in the program have not only learned to play an instrument, they have also learned how to work and collaborate with others as part of a team, enhancing their communication and social skills.

Research shows that students participating in music lessons have increased scores in many subjects compared to non-music students. JKE violin students, selected by lottery, increased four percentile points in reading scores and had higher attendance than many students who did not participate in the program.

Dr. Barnes hopes to expand the program to other high-need schools that lack early access to stringed instrument instruction in area schools. The cost to sponsor a child for the USC String Project is only $300 a year. This includes twice weekly instruction and provides a rental instrument.