Tears of pride welled up in the eyes of sophomore music education major Joshua Santana. As his young violin students shifted nervously in their chairs before their debut ensemble performance, he could hear them quietly singing to themselves:
“The fox walks on the wooden dock and dips his feet right in. He casts a hook ahead of him and listens to it sink, sink, sink.”
It’s a silly little ditty that Santana taught the kids to “register kinesthetically where to put their fingers on their bow.” But hearing them put it to use, well, “It blew me away,” Santana says.
Once a week, Santana teaches violin to 35 local grade-school students through the UMass Lowell String Project, a leading music education and community engagement initiative.
Santana knows firsthand what kind of impact the String Project can have: He’s an alumnus who joined in the third grade.
“I definitely see myself in some of these kids,” he says. “Hopefully I give them someone to look up to.”