It should be no surprise that these expense categories are the first to be reduced when non-profit boards are confronted with budget shortfalls. What was surprising to me was the lack of any formalized inspection regimens and the potential for accumulated neglect which, viewed together, are an obstacle to orchestral sound and individual student progress. Program directors and string teaching staff are good people but they lack the training and equipment needed to address what historically is outside the purview these roles. Further, while 10-year-olds can easily recognize a deflated soccer ball, they have no comparative experience with string instrument functionality. They sadly internalize a lack of sound progress as a shortcoming on their part.
Integral to this discussion of program value is this Youtube from the neuroscience department at Northwestern University on music education specific to poverty population children and their academic readiness and what music education can provide.
The second primary function of StringWizards is college readiness for our volunteer interns. We are a collegiate level, inter-disciplinary, social entrepreneurship experience edited for a secondary school setting. There are three course outcomes for the shop participants: 1) to learn violin repair, 2) to manage the business side of a music and arts service organization dedicated exclusively to inner city chamber and symphony orchestras, and 3) to publicize shop output, and create for themselves an opportunity to practice and simultaneously acquire résumé writing skills and build college admissions collateral, all while being exposed to how the arts educators reach out to the ENTIRE community.
SW shop time is divided between violin repair and creating promotional material for a digital world. Sample grant inquiries and guest speaker invitations are sent to major Chicago arts foundations requesting mentorship–not funding. Responses have been positive to date and more are planned.
Several energies coalesced to create this service. Basic violin setup, or cleaning and re-stringing can be mastered by an interested teen. This in turn provides the teens and their school or hosting orchestra with positive public service publicity—not to mention a possible reduction to their own in-house maintenance costs. Another surprise to me was the ease with which the local violin trade stepped up to cooperate when asked with used parts and surplus inventory.
Overview of planning and execution process for this project
Sponsors/charities/volunteers/ other groups involved in the project and the benefits to each.
Here is a webpage on StringWizard donors: http://www.thestringwizards.org/thankyou-list.html
Specific Budget Breakdown
The apprentices run a tight budget. For grant writing purposes they keep a strict accountability for parts and labor. All work is invoiced using a student managed database. Completed instruments are cataloged and individually leased (rent free) to participating orchestras.
New or recurring project?Recurring
How did you update/change this project from its previous occurrence?