Strings happily attached: New Bravo! Vail program teaches young students fundamentals of playing string instruments |

Strings happily attached: New Bravo! Vail program teaches young students fundamentals of playing string instruments

Bravo! Vail launched an after school program to provide instruction for string instruments.
Bravo! Vail photo

More about Bravo!

For information, go to">, or call or call 970-827-5700. Bravo! Vail celebrated its 31st season last summer, featuring residencies with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, plus the London-based Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

VAIL — A community that hosts some of the world’s finest musicians and artists does not have a pathway for local kids to get there from here.

That, said the kind folks at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, would never do.

Bravo! Vail expanded its education outreach with its new String Instrument Program. It’s new this fall and is aimed at elementary school students in second through fifth grades.

Alas, enrollment is closed for this fall.

“The Vail Valley is a vibrant community deeply committed to the arts and culture,” Bravo! Vail education manager Keelin Davis said.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our education programs to offer even more opportunities for students to explore the world of music,” Davis said. Learning a string instrument might not be easy, but it’s worth it, he continued.

“Local parents and their children are eager for this opportunity and embrace the rigor and dedication that learning a string instrument requires,” Davis said. “As an organization, Bravo! Vail is thrilled to continue supporting our young musicians in the Vail Valley.”

Based on research, experience

The Bravo! folks did not jump into this blindly. They looked around the community and schools, and found the opportunities for students to get introductory level opportunities were more rare than a viola solo.

They discovered that, unlike neighboring communities, Vail has no youth orchestra. Orchestra programs at the middle and high school levels do not offer linear curricular development from year to year.

They concluded that if anyone was in a position to do something about it, they were, Davis said.

There was no need to try to reinvent the chromatic scale, so they modeled it after their after-school piano program, which has been around since 2009. That program provides more than 500 lessons to 140 children annually, Davis said.

They learned a few things along they way. Students begin with the violin, and the program coordinates with local music educators and private instructors, and offers a graduated, traditional approach to instruction from the Suzuki, Pace and Kodaly methods, as well as traditional instruction.

They also learned that while enthusiasm might be huge, class sizes needed to be small — no more than eight students — and in convenient locations from Vail to Gypsum.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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