Story/Photo From The Leader Post
If it wasn't for programs like Strings for Change, students like Cheyanne Passmore might never have had a chance to learn to play the violin or any instrument.
"Ode to Joy is one of my favourites, I know that one by heart," said Passmore, her violin close by.
She was one of six students who performed the Beethoven classic at Arcola Community School on Tuesday.
A ceremony was held at the school to present the Strings of Change program with a $40,000 donation from Casino Regina.
Passmore, a Grade 7 student at Mother Teresa Middle School, says she practises at least 10 minutes every day and has developed a love for the instrument.
"I like playing it, I just got attached to it last year. (While I was learning), at some points I was frustrated because I didn't know how to play certain things but I just got into it," said Passmore.
In addition to the donation, a handful of Grade 2 students at Arcola who will be participating in the program were presented with the violins they will learn to play this year.
"I'm really passionate about it ... I think they'll really enjoy it," said Passmore.
The program started in 2013 and now reaches more than 7,000 students across Regina, including 80 Grade 1 and 2 students.
Each week Regina Symphony Orchestra violinists Karley Parovsky, Andrea Hedlund and Eduard Minevich teach students active listening, music history and, of course, how to play their instrument.
For all the students learning violin this year, Passmore encouraged them to stick with it and to practise.
"In the beginning I was nervous to start, but I got frustrated because learning how to hold the bow, that was difficult for me, but I just moved on with it," Minevich said the strings are the hardest instrument to learn.
"It teaches them concentration and teaches them to hear and play great music," said Minevich.
Minevich, a retired concert master with the RSO, started teaching children at Piapot First Nation three years ago.
He said he was amazed with how enthusiastic the kids were to learn, even if last year they insisted on playing Let it Go from the movie Frozen - a song that Minevich jokingly said he was pestered to teach.
"The way I see it, it's sort of introducing the kids to something they would have never been introduced," said Minevich. "They're learning so much from this program."