Our fifth season has brought many concrete changes - new students, new staff members, new curriculum elements - and as we reflect on the journey since the Newport String Project launched four years ago, we are struck by the more hidden impact of these changes.
This year, we are fortunate to be joined by Jaime and Ashley as Associate Musicians. And while their presence makes a huge difference in lots of public ways - performing as the Newport String Quartet and expanding our student enrollment - we are already noticing the impact in less visible, although still very tangible ways. We see it in the warmth of the interactions between Jaime, Ashley and the families in the program. We also see it though the new games and songs that our students are learning from them. From our perspective as directors, it is also wonderful to have two more people to share teaching stories (and challenges) with - there is simply a sense of having more company for the journey ahead.
Our student enrollment is currently at thirty-nine - a significant increase from the twenty-five students in our first year. What that number doesn't reveal is how the recruitment process has evolved since the program's launch. Parents now have a deeper understanding of what the program has to offer and spread the word with other families. The students are eager for their school friends to join and the "sibling effect" has been a powerful factor in inspiring younger brothers and sisters to get in on the action. There is an increase not just in the numbers of students, but also an increase in the complexity of the learning environment. In the first season, students participated exclusively in group classes. Today students are participating in both individual lessons and group classes. Students are making progress at different rates and in different directions. Providing responsive teaching is demanding, rich work that requires significant planning time. We are also noticing a beautiful deepening of parent engagement. More parents than ever are staying to watch the lessons and are highly motivated to know how they can help their child practice at home.
Perhaps most striking of all has been a shift towards a sense of pattern, routine and ritual. It is especially exciting to see how the students who have been with us since the beginning, are spontaneously making the experience their own. Every Newport String Project day is jam-packed with tiny moments, successes and details that remind us of the importance of embracing the twists and turns of long-term journeys.
Change seems to follow a cycle of happening "bit by bit", seemingly "not at all" and then magically "all at once". This season has a little bit of that "all at once" energy. We hope to continue to share perspectives from students, parents and audience members throughout the year on how the Newport String Project's work is evolving for them. If you would like to support our mission, please consider making a gift through our Donate section.
With best wishes for the holiday season
Ealain and EmmaLee
Newport String Project Directors