The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with the Thea Foundation, is launched the Stringed Instrument Drive.
It is aimed at collecting gently used violins and monetary donations to bring classical music back into the schools in Little Rock and North Little Rock
Paul Leopoulos, Executive Director of the Thea Foundation, says music can help children achieve academically and boost their confidence.
"We think this is a transformative program that is going to pay off in higher test scores, higher graduation rates and all that. We feel that this is economic development at its most base level and its most powerful," Leopoulos said.
The ultimate goal of the program is to infuse the arts into Little Rock and North Little Rock schools.
Mavis Cherry, principal at Boone Park Elementary, says the students have become more responsible and have developed an excitement for their music lessons.
Keith Klosky is one of the violin instructors and has seen the students grow more enthusiastic over the semester. "So right now their interest has just bloomed in terms of wanting to play more, even though the program ended. The kids at Pikeview wanted to keep right on but couldn't, because the funds ended... they really need a two day program, hopefully three days," said Klosky.
The organizers are excited about the students' increased interest, but clarify that the program is for children of all skill and interest levels. The goal is “not to produce professional musicians,” says Leopoulos, but to introduce them to the arts and the benefits it can provide. The Symphony and the Thea Foundation are currently taking donations in hopes that all students will have the chance to play the violin.