Project Prelude, a new non-profit sponsored by Metropolitan Youth Symphony (MYS), was started last summer to provide free violin lessons to low-income children in the area. Metropolitan Youth Symphony’s Symphony Orchestra violinist Cammie Lee (age 16) and Portland Youth Philharmonic’s flutist Isabelle Zheng (age 17) saw an absence of elementary school music education in the area and decided to tackle the problem themselves. Working with a team of four student musicians, three of whom are MYS students, Project Prelude offers free weekly violin lessons to 4th, 5th & 6th graders at Aloha-Huber Park K-8 School in the Beaverton School District.
As the fiscal sponsor of Project Prelude, Metropolitan Youth Symphony’s efforts, and the efforts of Ms. Lee and Ms. Zheng, were recently recognized by the National Youth Leadership Council as the recipient of the 2017 NYLC Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Award. As part of the award, Project Prelude will receive $1,000 toward the sustainability of the program. MYS Music Director Raúl Gómez will join Lee and Zheng as they are honored at the National Service-Learning Conference, March 22-24, 2017, in Anaheim, California.
The value of community collaboration is a fundamental principle for the Project Prelude founders. Lee and Zheng have worked with MYS to create a community of support from both donors and volunteers. Project Prelude originally started as a GoFundMe campaign and has expanded with donations from musical partners near and far. Locally, Kennedy Violins, Kerr Violins, Guitar Center, and Beaverton School District have made generous donations of violins and rehearsal space, respectively. Beyond the Portland Metro Area, the Open String Foundation, a non-profit based in New York City that helps musicians in need, donated twenty-five violins for the young student musicians. Project Prelude also received a $500 Summer of Service grant from Youth Service America and The Walt Disney Company.