History and Mission of the String Project

  • MissionThe Indiana University of Pennsylvania String Project, a community outreach program, provides a string music education program for children ages five through eighteen in Indiana and the surrounding area, as well as a teacher-training program for IUP music students.

    The IUP String Project is one of thirty-two similar programs joined under the auspices of the National String Project Consortium, dedicated to promoting string music education in the United States.

    As a member of the National String Project Consortium, the IUP String Project joins in addressing the two main issues facing string education today:

    • The low number of public schools that offer string music education programs to children.
    • The critical shortage of string teachers in the U.S.

    The program is directed by IUP music faculty member Dr. Linda Jennings.


    The mission of the IUP String Project is to:

    • Provide our students with an opportunity for musical enjoyment and education through the study of stringed instruments
    • Encourage the personal development of our students by providing them with an outlet for self-expression within a structured environment
    • Encourage student leadership in school orchestra programs and share our accomplishments within the community, acting as a supplement to the current string programs in the school systems or as a substitute string program for children who do not have access through their school
    • Create a partnership by providing accessible string education and mentorship for our students and teaching experience for CSUS School of Music students who may be pursuing a career in string education

    The History of the String Project

    The IUP String Project is part of a long, rich history in string education in the U.S. The IUP String Project is modeled after the University of Texas String Project in Austin, Texas, the original program of its kind.

    “The idea of the String Project came about in the years following World War II when an acute shortage of string players became apparent. There was a dearth of qualified string musicians to fill symphony positions, and few school children were being attracted to and trained in the art of string playing.

    “In 1948, Dr. William E. Doty, founding dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, listened to and supported Albert Gillis' idea to develop an imaginative program for the training of string teachers. Together they founded the Junior String Project, and Professor Gillis became the director, a position he held for the first ten years. Eight years later, the program was renamed The University of Texas String Project.

    “Professor Phyllis Young joined the staff in its fifth year and began directing in 1958. She continued as director for the next thirty-five years.” 

    Taken from the UT String Project

    Having served as a model for similar programs at other universities in the U.S., the string project concept became part of a broader, nationwide initiative of the American String Teachers Association to advocate for string education in the 1990s. A study in 1995 showed that there was a serious shortage of string teachers in the public schools, which continues today.

    Beginning in the mid-1990s, ASTA began sponsoring grants of $100,000 ($10,000 for ten years) to support the development of sting projects at universities in the U.S.  Because of these grants, many new string projects sprouted up across the country.

    The development of the string project concept has continued to develop within the National String Project Consortium, a coalition of string project sites based at colleges and universities across the U.S. The NSPC is dedicated to increasing the number of children playing stringed instruments and addressing the critical shortage of string teachers in the U.S.