Who is eligible for Project STEP?
The mission of Project STEP is to address the under-representation of racial and ethnic minorities in professional classical music by preparing them to compete and succeed in that world. The program is open to Black, Latino and other racial and ethnic minority children under-represented in classical music. Project STEP accepts students from Boston and the surrounding areas and provides instruction on classical string instruments only: violin, viola, cello and double bass.
How do students get into Project STEP?
There are 2 ways to enter Project STEP:
- FOCUS program, for children in Kindergarten
- By audition, for grades 1-11
If your child is 5 years old and currently enrolled in Kindergarten, they can apply for our FOCUS program in December of their Kindergarten year.
If your child is 6 years old or older AND already plays a string instrument, they can sign up to audition for Project STEP every May. Please click here for entry requirements and, if your child can meet them, contact the office for details.
If your child is 6 years old or older and DOES NOT already play a string instrument, then you can click here for a list of other area music schools and programs where you can register your child to begin music lessons. They can then sign up to audition at a later date when they can meet the entry requirements.
What is the benefit of being a Project STEP student?
STEP students receive a full and intense program of music study that consists of:
- Weekly private instruction on stringed instruments
- Use of a good,
- Weekly ear training and theory classes
- Weekly piano instruction on fundamentals
All students also have opportunities to perform throughout the year in community concerts, master classes and recitals, and to attend Boston area concerts free of charge through our enrichment program. The costs of the program are covered by Project STEP. Families pay a program fee each year, and there is financial aid available as needed.
How many students are in Project STEP?
There are usually between one and five students in each grade in Project STEP. While many students come into Project STEP after FOCUS and remain through their senior year in high school, each year STEP students must pass an exam in order to remain in the program. In general we have about 30 students in grades 1 through 12, and 60 students in FOCUS.
Where do the students take their lessons and classes?
Each student is assigned a teacher from the STEP faculty, and instruction takes place at his/her teacher's studio. In many cases, the teacher is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory or another conservatory, in which case the student will
at the conservatory. Theory classes take place at a room in Symphony Hall for grades one through three, and
for older students
at the New England Conservatory.
Do parents attend classes?
Parents are required to attend classes during the first two years in Project STEP. After that,
optional, and some teachers request that parents wait outside during lessons.
What if parents have no musical experience?
That is often the case. Parents will be aware of their students' studies and practice needs during the first two years of the program by attending the classes. Later, the Parents Council devotes one or two meetings to
explaining how parents can help students practice, and
related to practicing. STEP Artistic Director William Thomas will work with parents on how
support their students' music program effectively
and will be available
when parents need assistance.
How is STEP funded?
Eighty-two percent of the cost of the program is raised from generous individual donations and foundation and government support. In addition, STEP benefits from its affiliations with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory, and Boston University through their in-kind donations of office and classroom space. An endowment also supports the program, and STEP parents pay an annual fee.
Has anyone tried to start a program like STEP?
Yes. Project STEP has actively consulted with programs throughout the country that have replicated
program. Dallas, Buffalo, and Baltimore have or are developing programs that offer a full program of music study to talented minority students.
Why does Project STEP only
lessons on stringed instruments?
There is a practical reason: Stringed instruments make up the largest sections of orchestras by a significant percentage, and therefore provide the greatest opportunity for
musicians. We want to focus our efforts
will ultimately give our students the greatest prospects for playing in orchestras, should they decide to make that their goal.