The String Project allows students ranging from third to 12th grade who play stringed instruments to practice at the University of Wyoming in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts.

UW college students who gain experience teaching kids the violin, viola, cello and bass lead this program.

The program is funded in part by a grant, which allows for some of the financial needs to be taken care of.

Former Laramie High School student Erin Dennis, who played in the String Project is now using her experience to become a teacher in the program.

Beginning students are expected to practice five days a week for 30 minutes each day for the program. They attend a group lesson twice a week for an hour each time.

In the lessons students start with the fundamentals such as how to hold the instrument, names of the strings and simple songs. The songs teach different musical terms and skills to prepare them to play in an orchestra.

The program uses a reward system of giving the participants ribbons to tie on their instrument when they accomplish a song.

When they finish this step in the program they start playing in an orchestra that is divided into three different parts that play in harmony. This allows kids to listen and correct any errors that may occur to better understand the theory of music.

“Good players know when to let an orchestra lead itself. Ninety percent of what a orchestra does comes in the rehearsal, the vision, structure and architecture,” Dennis said.

The next step is playing a solo, which is coached or taught by the University of Wyoming students and overseen by two professors in the music department.

After all the different classes meet their goals, they have a concert to wrap up the end of the semester. This allows parents to see how much progress their child has achieved.

The String Project has provided many opportunities for LHS students to play in the higher orchestras or take it to the next level with increased difficulty and skills.

Dennis has had eight years of experience through this program and at school to allow her to become a music teacher.

One of the things that has challenged her through the years, Dennis said, was losing her eye sight. She has to memorize all the music she has played over the years. This added many hours of practice to her days.

Despite this obstacle, she has persevered and now has the opportunity to teach kids at any skill level. Whether that consists of key signatures, notes, time signatures, and dynamics, she is thankful to be able to pass on the love for music that she gained at an early age.