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High Country Strings

McCall Music Society

Limited affordable extracurricular music activities exist for youth in our rural area, High Country Strings program not only expanded performing arts opportunities in our area, but also built our capacity to start a youth orchestra. By creating an affordable weekly extracurricular strings program for Valley County youth and offering master classes that focused on all orchestral instruments 22 rural youth were engaged in group and individual music lessons through the school year, 12 involved in a junior orchestra  and even more through Second Sunday Sounds @ Six adjunct education activities.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do musicians improve the quality of their performance?

Instructor feedback and group lessons helped students improve their musicality. The end of year recital as well as two student orchestra performances gave students a tangible goal to work toward and a way to frame the lessons around the essential question.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Student proficiency was captured in the end of year recital and two junior orchestra performances. Participants were able to discuss with their instructor Jonelle Darrow and/or conductor  Richard Bauer how rhythm communicates meaning and how changes in those rhythms can change meanings.  High Country Strings integrates guided instructor feedback into the program so that participants improve their performances in a supportive atmosphere.


High Country Strings was enthusiastically received by parents and students alike who greatly appreciated the opportunity for students to take violin lessons in our rural area. In addition, the opportunity for students to interact with professional musicians as a part of Second Sunday Sounds @ Six series was tremendous in giving students exposure to professional musicians as well as a chance to further develop musical skills. The experience of performing in the HMS youth orchestra directly involves participants refining artistic techniques. 22 students gained proficiency in violin and 12 students were involved in junior orchestra. Several students and their parents commented on how important music had become in their lives.


Students gained an appreciation of classical music, proficiency in playing classical music and the pride that comes from performing and sharing music with our community. We are thrilled that we were able to start a junior orchestra a year earlier than anticipated. By working on a performance, students were able to convey meaning in their own work and experienced the excitement of preparing for and taking part in a performance.  One parent had this to say “ My daughter not only understands what it means to be a musician but also how to be a musician.”