Story by Sherry Mazzocchi
Instruments can be hard to come by at WHIN.
String and brass instruments tend to be expensive. So most children in The Washington Heights and Inwood Music Project play ones that are donated.
Even old, nonfunctioning ones are useful, said co-founder Andrea Profili. One viola needed a new bridge and pegs. The parts were swapped out from another instrument that was in even worse shape.
“We don’t have it in our budget to make repairs,” she said. “So we salvage parts to put on other instruments that are not beat up.”
One of their students, Mary, will play the refurbished viola in their upcoming Dec. 10th concert.
Since 2012, WHIN has been teaching young Northern Manhattan students. Children as young as three can learn the basics of music, how to play an instrument, and eventually, how to be a good citizen and give back to society.
WHIN is based on the Venezuelan El Sistema model, an orchestra for young people that conceives of music as a human right. Playing an instrument not only teaches children music, but also co-operation, leadership and a sense of mastery.
About 130 children participate in the program. The majority of students are from Washington Heights and Inwood, but students from The Bronx, Brooklyn and even New Jersey play in the orchestra.
“It’s beautiful,” said Profili. “You look at that orchestra and you’re looking at New York City.”
Often only affluent families can afford private music lessons.
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