New England Cable News
By Steve Aveson
May 21, 2015
A program in Boston is transforming young lives through stringed instruments.
City Strings, a non-profit organization, is teaching children in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood how to play the cello.
"Being a young cellist in youth orchestras, depending on the music, it's just so inspiring. It just takes you somewhere else when you're playing music," said founder Bithyah Israel. "What we do at City Strings is we push toward professionalism, but we also understand that they're kids. So. A little patient."
City Strings musicians have delighted the crowds with their wonderful music, amazing poise and confidence in presenting to the public. Their energy and enthusiasm greatly enhanced the day and brought new audiences who had never been to the Museum! It has been a privilege to connect with Bithyah and the young students; she is truly inspirational and we look forward to our continued work together in the future.
- Linda Apple, Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement, Museum of Fine Arts
We received a lot of positive feedback about this concert. […] Several audience members commented that they liked “the delightful pieces by the kids preceding the concert,” “watching their careful concentration,” and “everything, but especially the City Strings cellos.
- Beth Mullins, Manager of Education and Community Engagement, Boston Symphony Orchestra
City Strings is in the growing stages of their program development and from what I have seen during their time with Celebrity Series, also enjoys strong parental, faculty and board support. The students are well prepared, respectful and appreciative of all the opportunities (both musically and interpersonally) they receive by participating in City Strings.
- Robin L. Baker, Senior Manager of Community Engagement, Celebrity Series of Boston
What City Strings Parents Say
My child has learned not only how to play the cello, she has gained skills with working as a team as well as leadership skills. Her confidence level has soared giving her self-esteem in her ability to do anything she sets her mind to do. It has been wonderful watching City String's mold the kids to be successful adults
Since my daughter's participation in City Strings her confidence level has gone up. She has gained a strong sense of community. She has developed a love for her string instrument and has even gotten Awards and won talent shows and her school from playing. We are so grateful to City Strings!
City Strings's impact on [my daughter] has been gradual. She was hesitant and doubted her ability at first. She was too young to understand that practice made better, but over time with practice, perseverance and participation she's more disciplined. She proudly shares with her teachers and staff at school that she plays the cello. She has a genuine love of music and is interested in taking up an additional instrument in middle school. This is all because of the opportunity that City Strings provides to children so early on... I'm a grateful parent and supporter!
City Strings is an amazing program because of the opportunity it has afforded my daughter to continue to learn to play the cello. She has learned to read and play music at a young age which I think is a skill that is invaluable. One of the most important moments in musical growth was having a private session in our home. She felt nervous about her first recital and Ms. Bithyah took the time to instruct her at home so she could feel prepared. It is that kind of passion and hands on instruction that makes this program special. I also love the fact that students stay in the program for many years and have the opportunity to grow… I know that my family was truly blessed to have a free music program because we had looked into other programs and they were much too expensive. Having our daughter learn to play the cello has been a blessing and we hope the program continues for many more years.
I wanted them to have a love and appreciation for music. Israel is firm and has high expectations for them. She just exudes passion for music.
What she’s done here is remarkable. Cello has made [my daughter] more focused. She practices all the time.
With its mission to uplift a community, create opportunity using cello performance, encourage mentorship and leadership among its students, City Strings has inspired my daughter for the past five years as a cellist and teacher. I have marveled at the achievements of City Strings students as they have performed for appreciative audiences in Twelfth Baptist Church, Hibernian Hall, The Museum of Fine Arts, Berklee College and Myrtle Baptist Church. The growth of City Strings students from orchestra members to mentors/leaders within the organization has been wonderful to observe! Bithyah Israel's mission is being fulfilled week by week, month by month, year by year.