Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra teaches virtual violin lessons for Lussier program

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 3:24 PM CDT
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Violin students in Madison aren’t missing a single note thanks to the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

The after-school program at Lussier Community Education Center started about three years ago and musicians volunteered to give lessons to students who may not have the opportunity to be introduced to classical music in school.

With COVID-19 canceling many community youth programs, the Lussier Center worked with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra to provide virtual lessons.

“We’ve kind of picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and realized that this is something that we really need to address and how do we find our way around it,” said Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Music Director Andrew Sewell.

Sewell says the focus of the program isn’t on music, but mentorship.

“It’s an opportunity to have an adult mentor meet with these students once a week throughout the year,” Sewell said. “It’s about developing these young people, with a goal in mind of studying an instrument and learning music.”

Hillary Hempel plays 1st violin for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and is volunteering her time to give the lessons.

“I’m thankful that the kids are still able to have music in their lives as well,” said Hempel. “I think all of us are finding ways to keep our skills up and to keep the joy of music going by sharing it with people.”

Hempel says there are challenges teaching through a computer, like finding different ways to adjust a hand position or maybe not having the best audio to clearly hear a note.

“So I have to figure out how to explain those things in different words than I may have used than if I were there physically with them,” she said.

The virtual lessons are just getting started and will continue for as long as needed until lessons can begin in person once again.