Making Music Accessible

D’Addario makes music possible. For centuries, the Long Island based company has produced strings used by some of the world’s most notable musicians. But in Long Island’s Deauville Gardens East and West elementary schools, D’Addario is also making music possible for those just starting to learn the difference between a note and a treble clef.

More than 30 students third and fourth graders are taking part in an intensive after school program, learning violin, viola and cello for free thanks in part to the D’Addario Company’s nonprofit arm, the D’Addario Foundation. Every year, the D’Addario Foundation uses some of the company’s profits to support music education programs worldwide. Grant money goes to local music communities, but within their own Long Island community, D’Addario wanted to do something more.

“We’ve been on Long Island for a really long time, we have 900 employees and we wanted to give back to our employees,” Suzanne D’Addario, director of the D’Addario Foundation, said.

IMG_5685 Image: D’Addario
Many of the D’Addario’s employees live within Copiague Public School District and while the district had a string program, it was eliminated 30 years ago. In 2014, the D’Addario Foundation partnered with New York’s Harmony Program to revive the string program. Now in its second year, the program provides third and fourth graders with free violin, viola and cello lessons after school for six hours a week. The program runs January through June.

“We’re trying to make education accessible while serving our employees and developing musicians,” D’Addario said.

The D’Addario Foundation based the program on the experience with the more than 200 programs worldwide they’ve provided grants for. With a similar vision to the Harmony Program, it made sense for the two to partner together.

Image: D’Addario

“Participation in the music programs help develop kids socially and mentally and the music programming boosts self-confidence,” D’Addario said.

Students must apply to participate and in the program, which requires a serious commitment of two-hour lessons, three days a week after school. The Copiague Public School District has also been an effective partner to the program, letting them use their space and provide students and families with information on the program.

“It’s highly intensive and there’s a serious commitment to learning but we felt this had to be a serious music program,” Anne Fitzgibbon, founder and executive director of the Harmony Program said. “The purpose behind the intensity is not just to train musicians but to help students develop and practice life skills.”

The Harmony Program and the D’Addario Foundation would like to see the program develop past the third and fourth grade levels and want the children to have the opportunity to continue learning their instruments if they desire but both say there are no firm plans in place for that happen to yet.