Arts Leadership Spotlight: Andover Lawrence Strings Program

This guest post is from Jacob Shack of the Andover Lawrence Strings Program, a recipient of From the Top’s Margaret Stewart Lindsay Arts Leadership Award.

“Pedro, what note is a fifth above a G?”



“Oh, I get it now. The musical alphabet ends at G!”

Jacob Shack with a student at the Andover Lawrence String Program

This exchange characterizes a typical music theory class at the Andover Lawrence Strings Program, run out of Phillips Academy. While it constitutes the stereotypical model of community service, Andover Lawrence Strings is no ordinary program. It has the best resources at every level. Engaged student volunteers from Phillips Academy; eager elementary-school students from Lawrence, Massachusetts; dedicated student and faculty coordinators; and a larger community built around Non Sibi, not for one’s self, to look to for guidance.

My name is Jacob Shack, and I am a senior at Phillips Academy. I am the student coordinator for the Andover Lawrence Strings Program. I work closely with Christina Landolt, the project’s faculty advisor, to make sure things run smoothly and efficiently at all levels of the program. Earlier this year, I received a mass email from the manager of my orchestra at New England Conservatory Preparatory School, with generic announcements and the like. At the bottom of the email, she mentioned a grant opportunity through From the Top, an organization I have long known and admired. I immediately decided to apply for the grant, thinking about how it could directly benefit both the Lawrence students and the Phillips Academy volunteers.

The Margaret Stewart Lindsey Arts Leadership Award will enable the volunteers of the Andover Lawrence Strings Program to become more effective arts leaders, both in the Phillips Academy community and (hopefully) beyond. I proposed that a portion of the grant money be allocated to fund a local elementary-school music teacher to come in and provide support and guidance to the student volunteers. This will most likely happen at the beginning of next school year, so that the program can get off to a solid start in the fall. In addition to funding the teaching aspect of the program, I wanted to directly aid the acceleration of the Lawrence students’ learning. I plan to order more music theory teaching supplies, such as rhythm books, possibly drums, and more beginner violin, cello, and piano music.

I sincerely believe that the effects of this grant will be more significant than anyone currently involved could imagine. Although the ramifications will not be felt until after I graduate Phillips Academy and head to college, I am satisfied with the fact that I will leave this profound legacy behind. I will bring the valuable knowledge and patience I have learned through the Andover Lawrence Strings Program to all my community service endeavors beyond Phillips Academy. I hope this grant will help others see the promise in Andover Lawrence Strings that I did.

Read more about From the Top’s work with the Andover Lawrence String Program.