Established in 2009 and produced in collaboration with the Pendleton School District, Symphony Strings is a beginning level strings (violin, viola, cello) instruction program for 4th and 5th grade students in the Pendleton area. Classes meet after school twice a week at the Pendleton High School music department with students bused in from area elementary schools. Participants are be divided into groups according to their instrument and experience level (1st or 2nd year) with each group led by an individual teacher with multiple high school aged assistants. Utilizing elements of the Suzuki Strings Method students learn:
Head instructor, Emily Muller-Callender, also the strings instructor in the Pendleton School District, has developed a curriculum to be executed by qualified, contracted teachers. Program participants will pay a registration fee which is waivable if there is a financial need. Students will be provided with instruments from the Symphony and School District’s combined lending library if they do not have the financial means to rent or purchase an instrument.
Symphony Strings fills the gap in beginning strings education programming in the Pendleton area. In 2009, statewide budget cuts to education led the Pendleton School District to eliminate its 4th and 5th grade beginning strings program. The School District beginning strings program served as a feeder system to prepare students for the middle school orchestra, a program that still exists. Both the Pendleton School District and the Symphony felt that maintaining an early strings education program in the community was vital, not just for the continued health of the orchestral offerings still left at the middle and high school level, but for also maintaining the community’s interest in classical music. The School District subsequently invited the Symphony to collaborate and combine resources in order to continue a beginning strings program in the community.