Sharon Miller first started taking violin lessons in public school when she was in 5th grade. But in schools throughout the Valley, students don't have the opportunity to learn how to play stringed instruments. Through Eastern Mennonite University's preparatory music program, Miller is now offering affordable violin and cello lessons to area children.
"It's part of our mission at EMU, too, to reach out to the community and so we really feel this meets a need and its something we can do," says Miller.
Six students are already enrolled in the outreach program. It began in September with a grant from the arts council of the Valley. That money enables needy kids to take lessons at a third of the regular cost.
"We have gotten some of the instruments through the Music Gallery here in Harrisonburg and also some of the materials we need for the students," says Miller.
Outreach has always been a goal of the Music Gallery. Owner Matthew Suffecool established a scholarship program when he opened the store three years ago. That funding has helped equip students with instruments and lessons.
"It's one thing to set these programs up. It's a totally different thing when you actually see these students perform and learn and a year down the road, we're seeing results. That is priceless. That's what it's all about," says Suffecool.
Adds Miller, "It's great just to give them another opportunity to express themselves, to get along with other people and to develop their own skills."
Studies show that musically inclined children test 35 percent higher in math and science. So, if you're looking for that perfect gift for a family member or a needy child, music could be the answer.