Hello from Newfoundland!

Our good friend from the North, Carole Bestvater (CMW Violin Fellow 2009-2011), shares the latest news from Strong Harbour Strings along with an update on a visit from our own MusicWorks Network Fellow and CMW student alum, Andrew Oung. Carole is the Director & Founder of the program, located in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Wow, it’s hard to imagine that five years have passed since this program started!  Here we are, in Strong Harbour Strings’ fifth season, with so much to celebrate. This year, there are 24 students in our main centre, all coming two times a week for group and individual lessons.  We also started a satellite centre in a nearby neighbourhood across the harbour. There are 16 students who come twice a week during their lunch hour to learn the violin and viola. There are three new staff members who joined the team this season, so we’re having fun getting to know each other, teaching, and playing music together.
We recently played a concert of the Vivaldi Four Seasons in a downtown pub, selling out the place! People loved it! We’re planning on repeating the concert in a workshop for the SHS students, as well as in another family-friendly venue.  It’s been a very exciting time for Strong Harbour Strings.

The most exciting aspect right now is that Andrew Oung, the MusicWorks Network Fellow, is currently in St. John’s for a six week internship.  He’s working with a small group of 7th graders in developing the culture for a group inspired by CMW’s teen group, Phase II.  He’s been leading discussions, prompting conversations, and laying down a foundation for a group like this to continue after his internship here has finished. It has been exciting to see this aspect of Strong Harbour Strings develop, and feels like the missing puzzle piece is finally in place.  Now that we have students who are growing, developing critical thinking, and are completely blissed out that they get to keep on learning music and hanging out with each other, we’re finally ready to develop a Phase II-like program for them.
Sending love and hugs from the North Atlantic,

Carole Bestvater


Andrew Oung also sent along an update on his visit:

For the past few weeks I have been working here with Strong Harbour Strings. It has been wonderful getting to know all of the students and staff. I work with them three times a week, each day taking on a different role. I have started a small discussion group with the program’s 7th graders, I teach violin lessons, I support teachers during orchestra time, and I help students learn music theory. Strong Harbour takes place at two locations, one of which is the Cornerstone Ministry Centre. I really love that there is an open space where students and parents gather while they wait for lessons. It provides an opportunity for them to naturally interact with each other, and helps the music theory mentors be visible and accessible.
Outside of the educational aspect of the program, I attended a performance by the staff, named the Strong Harbour Strings Collective. They performed Vivaldi’s Four Season at The Black Sheep Pub to a full audience. I loved seeing how much the audience enjoyed the performance and I overheard somebody proudly say, “where else in the world can you hear Vivaldi in a pub”. While I can think of another city very dear to me where that could be true, I still think there is a uniqueness to the music community here. I’ll be in St. John’s for a few more weeks and I look forward to learning more about Strong Harbour Strings and the musical community here.