String Project Brings Music Lessons to Area Kids – News – Tennessee Today

Geoffrey Herd’s passion for the violin is infectious. His enthusiasm has attracted students from China, Thailand, and throughout the US to study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. But now he is sharing his love of stringed instruments a little closer to home.

Herd, a full-time lecturer in UT’s School of Music, recently obtained a $3,500 grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Arts Building Communities program to inspire Knox County’s inner-city youth to take up stringed instruments.

Geoffrey Herd
Geoffrey Herd, lecturer

The String Project provides instruments and private lessons for students in select Knox County schools. In August 2020, the pilot program was open to Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy students in grades three through five who participate in the YMCA after-school program.

“Our goal is to bring low-cost music lessons to the children and student teaching experiences to our graduate students,” Herd explained. “There is a huge gap today in young students’ participation in string education.”

Six children—five violin students and one cello student—enrolled in the program. Their music teacher, Kirstine Andersen, is a vocal music education graduate from the School of Music. She said the students have three key obligations: they must be committed to following through with the program, bringing their instruments to school, and attending the after-school classes.