Independence School District launches free violin program for 4-year-olds

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Ryan Evans doesn’t know how to play a violin, but he’s delighted his 4-year-old daughter is about to learn.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity,” Evans said. “She’s happy and excited and so is mommy.”

Evans' daughter and 15 other 4-year-olds at Thomas Benton Elementary in Independence are the first in the district to enroll in a free program called String Sprouts KC.

String Sprouts KC

“It is an amazing opportunity,” said Leslie Hochsprung, the principal at Benton Elementary. “Four-year-olds will receive a free violin and a free lesson every week of the year for the next five years.”

String Sprouts KC is being offered by Heartland Chamber Music and is fully supported by donations.

“Playing the violin is very difficult,” said Victoria Olson, the founder of Heartland Chamber Music. “Eye-hand coordination, attention span, left and right hand coordination. Learning to play the violin can help with so many academic skills.”

String Sprouts KC first offered free violin lessons at four other metro area schools last year. This is the first year the program is being offered in Independence.

“With my mom being a single mom of three kids, we didn’t have the opportunity to do this,” said Felecia Rogers, another Independence parent. “So I want to take the opportunity for my kids to expand further than I was able to as a child.”

Evans is thrilled to think about the broadened horizons for his daughter. He’s also open to other potential future dividends.

“Definitely, some other avenues, hopefully. Maybe some scholarships,” he laughed.