Starter Strings

Starter Strings is a completely tuition-free program for students to begin learning violin and viola at their neighborhood school. Launched in 2021 as a pilot program, it now serves more than 70 fourth-grade students in U-46 attending Oakhill and O'Neal Elementary Schools.

Recognizing that while music education is meaningful and valuable to everyone, access to high-quality music education is not always even across our communities, EYSO teamed up with schools in July 2020 to begin addressing these challenges. Over the course of the year, wildly ambitious dreams and careful planning came together at Oakhill Elementary to increase access by removing some of the traditional barriers for students: transportation, tuition, and instrument rental.

Every week, Starter Strings Director Tracy Dullea leads group lessons to students starting on their string-playing journey. Starter Strings students get special offers to attend EYSO concerts and events, and they interact with both students and teachers from across EYSO. Starter Strings musicians also perform in their school music concerts in the spring.

To learn more about Starter Strings or see how you can get involved, contact

Starter Strings is made possible in part by the generosity of the following funders: 

Farny R. Wurlitzer