Goldbook Project of the Month: Teaching Adults to Play—Society of Strings: A String Orchestra for Adult Beginners

Posted on: April 3, 2014

Since 2007, twenty-five adults enroll annually in “Be the Orchestra,” an introductory educational program of the Oklahoma City Orchestra League and the OKC Philharmonic geared to teaching adults how to play string instruments. “It started with a small group of music lovers who approached our education director and asked about taking violin lessons,” says Philharmonic Marketing Director Michelle Winters. After completing the training course with cellist and educator Dorothy Hays, the first graduating class of “Be the Orchestra” was ready for more. This small group of enthusiasts has developed into the “Society of Strings” or S.O.S., serving more than 100 amateur musicians in Oklahoma City.

Rehearsing regularly and performing throughout the state, S.O.S has become an extraordinary grassroots music program. “I never thought I would actually be a musician even though I’ve loved music all my life,” said one long-time participant. “It was basically like training an elementary school orchestra at first,” says Hays. “We covered everything from tuning their instruments to basic ensemble playing. And they just kept getting better.” Each year many members of the introductory classes join S.O.S., and the group has become so large that a second ensemble has been established.

With nearly 70 players in the original string orchestra, S.O.S. is now under the direction of Dr. John Schimek, a professor of music at Oklahoma City University. Violinist and educator Jean Stratham leads the newer players in a group known as S.O.S. Encore. Dorothy Hays continues to teach the new players in the introductory classes whose enthusiastic graduates continue to swell the ranks of the Society of Strings.

For more information on this Gold Book Award winning project, visit Society of Strings (SOS) on Gold Book Online. For other project ideas, visit Gold Book Online. Gold Book Online is a resource for successful projects dating back to 2005, and facilitates networking and information sharing.

Posted April 3, 2014