The Next Steps for the Andover-Lawrence Strings Program

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the Andover-Lawrence Strings Program of the Philips Academy. They just had their final student performance of the 2009/2010 school year, wrapping up yet another successful season for the 14-year old educational program. We last reported on their progress back in April following a collaborative performance with their program and FTT alumni. Having recently been awarded From the Top’s Margaret Stewart Lindsey Arts Leadership Award, they are already making plans for the 2010/2011 school year.

Through the From the Top grant, they plan to purchase new materials to broaden their music theory curriculum and will be adding an adult mentor to help train student teachers for the program. These changes would not have been possible were it not for student coordinator Jacob Shack’s decision to apply for the grant, which you can read about here. Jacob graduated from the Academy this past May and plans to attend Harvard in the fall. As such, the program will now be under the guidance of new student coordinator and upcoming senior Madeleine Tucker. We asked Maddie to introduce herself on our blog and share her thoughts about the program:

Hi! This is Madeleine (Maddie) Tucker, and I am a rising senior at Phillips Academy, Andover. Next year, I will be taking over Jacob’s position as coordinator of the Andover-Lawrence String Program. As a cellist myself, the group of young cello students in the ALS program is very special to me. Although the group consists of a mere number of approximately eight students, over 25 career possibilities are represented. They range from singer to artist to comic writer to rapper, clown, dancer, and even includes a potential professional video gamer. This combination of so many different types of people working together might seem unlikely; I certainly thought it was, until we began having occasional group cello classes. Imagine a classical music lesson with eight diametrically opposing viewpoints…One week, for example, previous From the Top cellist Bobby Chen and I tuned down the G and C strings of their cellos and taught them the beginning of the third movement of Kodaly’s Cello Sonata. The kids only achieved learning the first few measures, but the experience was exciting all the same.

Maddie with cello student Paoli and FTT alum, Bobby Chen

Though it is sad that the year is over, the good news is that nearly all of the students will return next year. I will miss them over the summer, but the teachers and students truly deserve a break; both have been working hard!

Just last week, Andover-Lawrence Strings had its final concert of the year. Gathered together in the large Chapel, parents, siblings, friends, and teachers listened as each student walked up onto the stage to perform one or more(!) pieces on their chosen instrument. By the end of the concert, we had applauded four versions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, six arrangements of “Marry Had a Little Lamb”, two “Heart and Soul” piano duets, one Harry Potter theme song entitled “Lumos”, and a variety of other songs. It was a great way to end the year.

The 2010/2011 Andover-Lawrence Strings Program season promises to be filled with optimism and dedication. They have truly set the mold for establishing arts leadership within student communities. For more information on the Philips Academy and its success with the Andover-Lawrence Strings Program, visit their website. We will continue to follow their program and will report back on their progress in the fall.