For 15 years, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's Strings in Our Schools program has brought the music. The public education initiative, which provides free violin instruction and access to violins to elementary school students, presents concerts this week at Sweeney Elementary School and Tesuque Elementary School. ---

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival executive director Steven Ovitsky feels that teaching music is but one facet of Strings in Our Schools' far-reaching positive impact.

"The goal of the program is not to create the next great violin soloist. If that happens, great, but we feel the importance of exposure to music goes beyond that," Ovitsky says. "It's been proven time and again throughout the country that children who work in performing arts have the discipline to study and will do better in their academics, and it turns out that kids in the program really excel."

Strings in Our Schools was started in 1995 by Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival advisory council member Robbin Close, and taken over by the SFCMF's education department when Close moved to California. It now operates at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, Sweeney Elementary School and Tesuque Elementary School.

"It's changed a lot. When it started we were teaching in storage closets in one school," the program's longtime violin instructor Hilary Schacht says.

Strings in Our Schools now has over 60 participating students, and a number of Schacht's former pupils have gone on to play the violin in high school and college.

Beyond obvious goals of increasing the number of participants and violins, Schacht has ideas about eventually expanding the string instruments available in the program.

"I have a dream that I could get cellos and violas in there," Schacht says.

Come support the kids of Strings in Our Schools and music education in public schools this week.

Strings in Our Schools Concerts

6 pm
Tuesday, May 10


Sweeney Elementary School
501 Airport Road

6 pm
Thursday, May 12


Tesuque Elementary School
1555 Bishops Lodge Road