A University of South Carolina has helped keep orchestras in South Carolina schools, bucking a national trend which has caused many orchestral programs to wane or shutter.
University String Project director Gail Barnes said told South Carolina Radio Network that the program has become a model for others across the country. “We are beginning our 43rd year,” she said. “We are the second such program in the United States, but we are the national model for over 33 projects throughout the country.”
The USC String Project provides instruction in violin, viola, cello and bass through group classes and orchestras. It offers beginning classes for children in 3rd-5th grades and beginning classes for adults.
Continuing students can receive private lessons and play in String Project orchestras through high school.
Teachers are undergraduate and graduate students supervised by USC faculty members.
Undergraduates learn new skills and test their roles as professionals in an environment that rewards competence. Many orchestra teachers throughout the state were once undergraduate teachers themselves in the USC String Project.
“This is my 22nd year,” Barnes said. “We have graduated 105 teachers in that time. And 70 percent are still teaching, which is extraordinary.”