Strings & Self-Esteem 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 $100,000 two-year grant from Impact 100 of Palm Beach County, The Symphonia launched a program called Building a String Orchestra and Self-Esteem at the Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach. In fall of 2023, the program began a new partnership with Milagro Center, which is now the program's home. The program's growth and sustainability have been made possible by multi-year funding from the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation (2019-2022), the Leslie L. Alexander Foundation, and significant gifts from other private donors. From 2019 to 2022, the program was named The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Strings & Self-Esteem Program.
Who We Serve
The Strings & Self-Esteem Program serves children ages six to eighteen who are members of Milagro Center. Typically, students come from moderate to low-income households and most attend Delray Beach Title I schools. The Symphonia's 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 recognized that this need began to surface when school-based arts programs in Palm Beach County were phased out of school curricula. As a result, children 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, with high-quality, free music instruction taught by professional musicians who are committed to preparing them to one day form a Strings & Self-Esteem 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 & Self-Esteem 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 of these skills, coupled with the pure enjoyment that music brings, engender 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 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 (where the program was housed at that time) temporarily closed. The Symphonia was able to pivot and put in place a twice-weekly virtual program for the more advanced students. We eventually transitioned to 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. The program resumed in-person instruction during the 2022-23 season.
“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
Milagro Center was founded in 1997 by several local visionary leaders motivated by the desire for community service centered on providing arts experiences to the economically-challenged neighborhood children. Milagro, which means “miracle” in Spanish, motivates children and youth to “reach for the stars” while being confronted by the many adverse influences they face in the community. Milagro Center’s uniquely integrated programs have grown over the decades to focus on empowering these at-risk youth and their families to succeed, both in school and in life, having a resounding positive influence on our local Delray Beach community. For more information, visit milagrocenter.org.
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