News and Press

10-18-2013 — Youth Orchestra Press Release

October 18, 2013
Contact: Philip Rosenberg, or 410.778.2064


The National Music Festival at Washington College is excited to announce a new program serving the children of Kent County in grades 3 through 8. With the introduction of its Fiddlesticks! program, the National Music Festival will offer free lessons in violin, viola, and cello as an afterschool activity in locations around Kent County.

With funding from Family & Community Partnerships of Kent County, United Way of Kent County, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the Festival will partner with local schools and community organizations to bring string instrument lessons and performance opportunities to the children of Kent County. All students in grades 3 through 8, including homeschooled children, are welcome to participate.

The Fiddlesticks! program will provide three phases of string instruction: eight one-hour group lessons, in which groups of four to eight students will learn to play and perform “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”; ten one-hour semi-private lessons, in which groups of two to four students will continue learning new songs and how to read music (students may switch to viola or cello at this stage if desired); and finally ten weeks of private lessons and string ensemble rehearsals, culminating in a performance during the 2014 National Music Festival in June.  There is no charge for children to participate in the program, and instruments will be provided.

“We feel that this is an important program,” says National Music Festival Executive Director Caitlin Patton. “Children in Kent County have had little access to string instrument instruction, and we hope to change that. We want to make this musical experience available to children regardless of economic background.” Patton, a violinist and violist with eleven years of experience as a strings teacher, will be one of the teachers in the Fiddlesticks! program.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. In an article “Is Music the Key to Success?” by Joanne Lipman, published in the New York Times on Oct. 12, 2013, Lipman interviewed many successful people including Condoleezza Rice (piano), Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve (clarinet and saxophone), Chuck Todd, NBC chief White House correspondent (French horn), Paula Zahn (cello), and Steven Spielberg (clarinet).

Lipman writes, “Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously… many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating – even problem solving.”

Tax-deductible contributions to support the program may be sent to the National Music Festival at P.O. Box 284, Chestertown, MD 21620, or at Please note Fiddlesticks! on your contribution if you wish it to benefit this important youth programming. Donations of unneeded but playable used instruments are also being sought.

Over the next few weeks program staff will be visiting schools and introducing the program and string instruments to the students of Kent County. Parents who would like to register their children in the program may do so by e-mailing to request an enrollment form. Questions are also welcome at or (410) 778-2064.

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