Still making beautiful music after 50 years
Posted on 05/18/2018
Group photo of the teachers at the eventFifty years ago, Prince William County Public Schools added a strings program to its music class offerings and has never looked back. Beginning in 1967, with only three instructors who taught nearly 400 fifth graders and covered all 21 elementary schools in the county, the program grew to its present size; now exceeding 9,500 students, with some starting as early as fourth-grade, continuing through twelfth-grade.

The culmination of the year-long jubilee celebration for strings capped off with a concert performed by current and former PWCS strings teachers at Brentsville District High School. Prior to the concert, special recognition for some of the first teachers and leaders of the strings program occurred as well as recognition of all the former teachers in attendance.

Throughout the hallways, different strings instruments, music books, school yearbooks, photos, and several photographs throughout the 50 years of the strings program were displayed. There was also a list of all schools from the start of the program until now, listing who the strings teachers at the schools were/are currently. The visual of the history of the program and how it grew as PWCS itself grew is a testament to the importance of the program.

The camaraderie amongst the teachers was palatable, as they talked amongst themselves and spent time catching up with one another. There were special moments when retired teachers met up with former colleagues, and when some of the current PWCS teachers saw former teachers who taught them, bringing a love of music full circle.

Dr. Steven Walts, Superintendent of schools, acknowledged the importance of the strings program and its lasting impact on students. He congratulated the teachers on their accomplishments, and shared his appreciation.

“I consider the strings program to be without peer. It is second to none, in my opinion,” said Walts.

The concert was filled with musical selections familiar to many – “Country Fiddler” is one of the first songs most students learn, as well as the rite of passage that is Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #3, Mvt. 1”. The audience responded enthusiastically, with a standing ovation as the concert finished.