Boys and Girls Club Program
Building a String Orchestra and Self-Esteem
“Fostering creativity in children is as important as any other part of the school curriculum because it feeds the soul. A daily dose of creativity helps children imagine a better world and then create it.”
– Renowned soprano Renée Fleming
How We Began
In 2018, with seed money from the Children’s Services Council’s “Great Ideas Initiatives,” followed by a generous $100K two-year grant from Impact 100 of Palm Beach County, The Symphonia created and launched “Building a String Orchestra and Self-Esteem” for children ages 6-18, who attend the Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach. Subsequent multi-year funding in 2019, from the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation, as well as significant gifts from private donors has helped grow this program and ensure its sustainability. In 2022, it was renamed The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Strings & Self-Esteem Program.
Who We Serve
Typically, club members come from moderate to low-income households and most attend Delray Beach Title I schools. Our free afterschool music program delivers an engaging music enrichment curriculum that most public-school districts are no longer able to offer because of budget cutbacks in arts programming. The Symphonia recognizes that this need began to surface when school-based arts programs in Palm Beach County were phased out of school curricula and acknowledges that children who are from low-to-moderate income households have the least access to private arts programs and are thus the hardest hit by this cultural void.
Our dynamic afterschool program provides children, including those at risk for academic and behavioral problems who have slipped through the cracks unnoticed, with high-quality free music instruction taught by professional musicians who are committed to preparing their young musicians to one day forming a Boys & Girls Club string orchestra.
Equity in the Arts
Rooted in the notion that the arts should be for everyone and recognizing the far-reaching positive impact that music has upon individuals as well as entire communities, The Symphonia has successfully turned its fun and substantive initiative into an ongoing program that brings music into the lives of those children who perhaps need it the most.
Art Transforms Lives
Research shows that most children respond to music with joy. Building a String Orchestra demonstrates how playing an instrument helps to develop the area of the brain that handles cognitive tasks, which can result in improved academic skills, particularly in the areas of literacy and math. Studying and playing music also fosters self-discipline, teaches cooperativeness, sparks the imagination, and encourages children to express themselves in new and positive ways. All these skills, and the pure enjoyment that music brings, draws out feelings of pride, self-worth, and self-confidence. The families of the children in the program take joy in watching their children grow as young musicians and as productive citizens in the community.
What We Provide
Our program groups students by age, ability (beginners or advanced), and chosen string instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass.) Each student receives consistent hands-on instruction in addition to training in music theory, history, and ear/rhythm classes. Supervised practice sessions are held on the designated days when there are no classes. Each semester The Symphonia hosts a seasonal recital for the entire Boys & Girls Club membership and staff and for the families and friends of the young musicians. Recitals give students the chance to show what they can do and the chance to shine in the spotlight. The advanced students play on their own, while the younger beginners perform side-by-side with the faculty. Every student gets to perform solo or as part of an ensemble, and to feel the joy and pride of performing.
COVID – Facing Unanticipated Challenges
The pandemic dealt a dramatic and unanticipated blow to this project when the Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach temporarily closed. The Symphonia was able to pivot and put in place a twice-weekly virtual program for the more advanced students. Currently, we are operating as a scaled-down hybrid program on-site at the re-opened Boys & Girls Club with string lessons being taught to advanced students via Zoom by violinist ShaSha Zhang, one of the program’s faculty members. There is already a long list of returning and new beginners eager to start playing once Building a String Orchestra returns to a full live program at the club.
“Music has opened these children’s eyes and enriched their spirits…. Working as part of this program, I have witnessed those moments when our young violin players feel joy and a sense of accomplishment.”
Throughout this program, and even now during the pandemic, The Symphonia is touching and transforming children’s lives through music, and subsequently providing children with the opportunity to enrich and improve society.
For more information on this program call 1-561-376-3848
Our Partner Organization
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County
Founded in 1971, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County is a 501(c)(3) not-for- profit youth development organization dedicated to promoting the educational, vocational, health, leadership and character of boys and girls in a safe, nurturing environment. Thirteen Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County serve more than 8,000 children ages 6 - 18. In addition to a safe, fun and constructive alternative to being home alone, the club provides development programs to help youth build life skills, self-esteem and values during critical periods of growth. It is one of 13 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County. For more information, please visit www.bgcpbc.org or call 561-683-3287.
The program is made possible through generous support from
Impact 100 of Palm Beach County
Impact 100 Palm Beach County, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, connects, engages, and inspires women to improve our community by collectively funding multiple $100,000 grants to nonprofits that implement high impact initiatives in southern Palm Beach County. The guiding principle of Impact 100 Palm Beach County is efficient philanthropy. The Power of Women Giving as One.
Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation
For more than three decades, Virginia and Harvey Kimmel have been creating and supporting cultural arts and education programs for children and teens in Pennsylvania, South Florida, and Michigan. Thanks to their philanthropic efforts and leadership, the Kimmels have impacted tens of thousands of young people – from learning instruments to reading books to participating in full stage productions.
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, a special-purpose government established by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014, provides leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county's children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong. For more information, visit www.cscpbc.org
AND BY THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS