Monday, February 29, 2016

David France, Revolution of Hope: Honored to be the Featured Story TODAY of Metro Boston Newspaper!!

David France, Founder
Revolution of Hope

Revolution of Hope

February 29, 2016

Roxbury Youth Orchestra turns to crowdfunding

The after-school orchestra gives young Boston musicians a shot at learning a string instrument.

Up in the fourth-floor cafeteria at Roxbury’s O’Bryant School Wednesday afternoon, David France had split five young musicians into two groups.

In one corner, two clapped along to a beeping metronome.

In another, three played through a few measures of a tune, again and again, until they got the section just right: the right bow placement, the right notes, the right attitude – that extra oomph on the down-beat when the song bursts into its theme.

“That’s great,” France said when the trio nailed it, his own violin clutched in his left hand as he prepared to play along. “Let’s do it two more times.”

Five days a week for three hours a day, the Roxbury Youth Orchestra meets here, its 20 members – pre-teens to early 20-somethings - passing through three days a week in chunks of a half-dozen or so, practicing their skills on pricey instruments provided for next-to-nothing.

For the privilege, they pay $60 for two terms of instruction. It’s a bargain compared to what most youth musicians’ parents would pay for that much attention from a skilled instructor. But it doesn’t pay for it all – the trips, the snacks, the repairs - and it doesn’t pay France or his rotating team of volunteers more than a small stipend.

And it can’t sustain the program forever. So for the first time since its inception three years ago, France is asking for crowdfunded cash on Indiegogo to keep the program going.

“Orchestra in the Hood,” he calls the campaign. They need $15,000, he said. They’re about half way there.

“We don’t really have much,” said Shirley Wong, a 20-year-old Simmons sophomore who’s been with the program since she was in high school. “We’re not asking for much either. We’re just asking for our teachers, our instruments and our peers.”

The Roxbury Youth Orchestra stands out. There isn’t another program like it in the city, France said. There isn’t enough demand, let alone room in the budget, to teach string instruments in most Boston schools. Many families, in a district where three out of four students qualify as low-income, can’t afford lessons.

“There are opportunities for elementary school, but then they dry up in middle school and high school,” France said. “Allowing someone to pick up a string instrument at 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, that’s almost nonexistent.”

Comment by email:
Thank you so much for your ongoing support!  It really means a lot to us! -David [David France]
Member of the Roxbury Youth Orchestra Nardos Gosaye, 16, practices the violin after school at the John D O'Bryant School of Math and Science in Roxbury. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
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