String Wizards teaches gratitude. It nurtures and inspires. Several people in the field of music education and violin making, should take the credit for its existence. They pointed me in the right directions, and human nature took over from there. I am a retired FedEx Captain and neither a career musician nor a violin maker, but I do have a lot of determination. Determination is an inherited trait. I can't take credit for that either. My first breaks came from the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project who gave me a shot as director of the 2nd violins despite my lack of formal training in classical music, and Cliff Gabor, the school principal of their host school, for allowing me to setup a luthier training shop. I also have to profoundly thank M.U.S.I.C. Inc for doing the same about one year later, and being of limitless support for curriculum development. http://www.musicincchicago.org/
What all these people do is amazing. I listened to Rev. Randall Blakey who is the executive director of an Near North Unity Project (http://www.connectnearnorth.org/About-Us6/About-the-Near-North-Unity-Project.html) describes what he called "The Lost, the Last, and the Least." Imagine you are a 10 year old in near poverty circumstances with no personal possessions of your own. Now imagine being given a violin to take home and play. Now imagine free lessons and being able to play your part in an orchestra of other kids just like you. In a short time you can play Beethoven or the Happy Birthday Song for you little brother. The empowerment is visceral.
Music can re-arrange the social order for a kid, and this has life changing consequences.
I am indebted to North Park University for allowing me to audit their music certificate program that delves into this area. From the luthier side of things Paul Wargaski (http://www.wargaskiviolins.com/Pages/default.aspx) is the brains and the talent behind this "Luthier Workshop" concept. I am merely the foot soldier, and an errant one at that. My very first endorsement came from Suzanne D'Addario of the D'Addario Foundation (http://www.daddariofoundation.org/) who offered to help with replacement strings and luthier aprons. I will always, always remember that.
Even a rudimentary grasp of violin inspections and repair is a monumental undertaking. My long term goal is to take a core of about a dozen kids through six full semesters of a combination of shop floor experiences in and cohort discussion. The final goal is to ingrain in them the imperative to pass along their skills in Non-Profit operations and violin adjustment to next generation.