After months and months of planning, it was a very special moment to receive an email with a list of students who had signed up to join the Newport String Project! It was with immense delight that Emmy and I finally met this illustrious group at the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Community Center in Newport on Monday. In the lead up to the occasion, students at the MLK Center had enjoyed several workshops led by Emmy - an instrument petting zoo (in which several "shy" violins were coaxed out from underneath a blanket) and a fantastic story hour featuring the tale of a farmer's daughter and how she brought her whole community together using a very special talent.
So, as the students for the first official class, their anticipation was palpable! They listened attentively as we explained how we would be starting out with paper violins - learning the names of the different parts of the violin, learning how to make music together as well as how to care for a fragile musical instrument. Eyes lit up as we explained that, in a few months, there would be a special graduation concert where they would show all the songs they had learned and would be presented with their "real" violin.
The questions came thick and fast
"Could I try making a paper violin at home?"
"Is it ok if I make a special suitcase for my paper violin?"
"How long does it take to make a real violin?"
Luckily, there was still time to learn some songs and dances together, as well as time to practice the very important art of "taking a bow".
As parents arrived to pick them up, students bounced over, eager to share what they had learned. Emmy and I, a little tired but blissfully happy, started to pack away our violins when a first grader appeared beside us and presented us with a wonderful souvenir to mark the occasion... It's going to be a great year!