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February 29, 2024

Elevating Advancing Musicians with Violin Donations


Last year, Pam Stevens contacted our long-time partner, Hungry for Music, to donate her late sister’s two violins, viola, and three bows. Her sister played in the New York City Ballet Orchestra and one of the violins alone was valued at $10,000.

Over the years, Hungry for Music has been gifted with high-quality instruments that would be more appropriate for advanced students, and this was certainly one of those cases. After receiving this generous gift, they asked us to spread the word within our network of grantee partners to help identify a recipient for the $10K violin. Oftentimes it’s difficult for students to progress when they are still playing on a student-level instrument, so in reaching out to our partners we asked them to nominate advancing students who are perhaps playing on a lower-level violin & would greatly benefit from an upgrade of their instrument, plans to pursue music at a higher level, and would otherwise not be able to finance an instrument upgrade on their own. 

After receiving four student recommendations from programs in Maryland, New York, Wisconsin, and Arizona, Joseas from UpBeat NYC was ultimately awarded the violin that was once played in the esteemed New York City Ballet Orchestra. Richard Miller, Co-Executive Director of UpBeat NYC, writes:

"Joseas is a 13-year-old eighth grader who has been a consistently active UpBeat participant for the past 5 years. He performs in UpBeat’s advanced string orchestra and full orchestra ensembles as well as regular chamber group projects and as a soloist. Along with demonstrating strong dedication to music and the violin over these several years with us, Joseas exudes joy and kindness through his music making, as a student, with his peers and as a role model to UpBeat’s younger musicians.

In his role as 1st violinist and rotating concertmaster, Joseas has led his section in string ensemble and full orchestra public performances at all UpBeat annual events as well as the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center and the NY Philharmonic / Interlochen Collaborative Concert at Merkin Hall. Joseas is an avid violinist and is eager to take on ambitious challenges with a curious mind, positive attitude, and playful dexterity.

Joseas plans to continue violin beyond high school and is currently auditioning for specialized music high schools including Laguardia High School of Music and Performing Arts. Joseas’s family is from the Dominican Republic and his mother, Zulema, works very hard to support Joseas as well as other family members in D.R. Without a program like UpBeat, Joseas would unlikely have access to consistent music education and performing opportunities.

We at UpBeat believe that well-maintained, quality instruments are an essential component of a young musician’s educational experience. We prioritize securing the best instruments possible for our participants and are fortunate to have received many wonderful instruments from NYC residents over the years. We are always thrilled to be able to match a devoted, eager student with an instrument that can inspire them to take their musical pursuit to the next level. Joseas has recently arrived at a point in his musicianship and personal maturity that calls for a better instrument than UpBeat can currently provide. Thank you again for considering UpBeat in finding a match for this violin."

Those who were not selected to receive this violin were not left empty-handed. Hungry for Music generously offered to donate a European violin valued at $2,500-$5,000 to each student from their instrument inventory. We invite you to learn more about each of these recipients below.

Thanks to Jeff Campbell, Founder & Director of Hungry for Music, his team, and luthier, Ben Miller, for restoring, setting up, and shipping or hand-delivering these violin donations to each student.

We are extremely grateful for our lasting partnership with Hungry for Music, which has helped match thousands of instrument donations with students in need across the country over the past eight years and counting. To learn more about their work, please visit hungryformusic.org.





Jazmin (pictured above) has been a student in Harmony Project Phoenix for five years and is currently a high school senior. Jazmin is passionate about pursuing a career in music education and is in the process of applying to college for this purpose.

She has been raised by a single father who works tirelessly to support his family. To attend lessons, Jazmin often walks two miles in the scorching Arizona heat.

Additionally, Jazmin has been volunteering for two years in the program. She has not only taught private lessons but has also taken the lead in directing a string ensemble. 

“The violin is amazing! Really high quality. She is currently getting ready to do her college auditions, majoring in Music Education. This violin will be a game-changer for her.” - Diogo Pereira, Director, Harmony Project Phoenix





9th grader Na'Kayla (pictured above) has been with Baltimore City Orchestra OrchKids since 2018. Here is a statement from her orchestra director, Liam Cunningham:

"I have had the great pleasure of working with Na'Kayla for the last two years as her orchestra director as a part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids program. In the time that I have been able to spend with her, Na'Kayla has proven herself a leader among her peers, both in her technical capabilities and her persistent kindness/willingness to support those around her. In the last year or so, something really clicked for Na'Kayla and she has been motivated to push herself harder and the growth is easily seen and heard in her performances and general musicality. Recent accomplishments of Na'Kayla include acceptance into the Encore/Coda summer music program located in Sweden, Maine; being selected to participate in the El Sistema residency at the King School in Connecticut; particpating weekly in Peabody Conservatory's preparatory program; and selected to receive private musical coachings with members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Currently, Na'Kayla is the acting concert master of the Symphonic String Ensemble (upper division) at OrchKids and in December will be leading the ensemble in an unconducted piece "Basile's Gallop" by Baile Barres.

Na'Kayla and her family have been a part of OrchKids for many years. Her mother, Tamara, was a single parent (until this last year) supporting her daughter's dream of pursuing music. Tamara has supported Na'Kayla tirelessly, but to provide an instrument of this quality is well beyond the family's means. This new instrument would further Na'Kayla's trajectory on an already promising future; she tells me often how much she wants to go into music and has begun looking into music programs in Maryland, including Peabody at Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, and Towson University.

I can't think of a student and family that is more deserving of an opportunity like this. I expect great things from Na'Kayla!"




Yessica has been on scholarship with the Latino Arts Strings Program for the past nine years. She is a junior on a full ride at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, where she is a leading member of the school orchestra. Yessica is a very disciplined & hardworking violinist and is talented & musical. She embraces both the European classical genres as well as the music from our cultural heritage. She has given over 100 concerts as a member of the LASP flagship group, the Mariachi Juvenil and has shared the stage with world class ensembles such as the Mariachi Cobre, La Santa Cecilia, Los Texmaniacs, Las Cafeteras, Lupita Infante to name a few. As a classical player, she has been selected to the Wisconsin School Music Association’s (WSMA) Middle Level and High School Honors Orchestras. As a soloist, she has received gold medals at the WSMA District and State Festivals since she was in sixth grade and in our LASP Solo Festival since she started. During the summers, Yessica volunteers as a tutor for our younger violinists and helps with our LASP Summer Music Camp. Yessica is currently preparing her college audition repertoire including the Kabalevsky Concerto in C, a Mozart Concerto and the Partita #2 by J.S. Bach. In college she hopes to major in music and minor in business administration. Academically, she is also a student in great standing.

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Yessica has inherited her family’s strong work ethic and “can do” attitude. However, she and her family are also dealing with the economic hardship that their immigrant status entails. Regardless of any difficulties the family faces, they are always there to support their children and both parents are thrilled to see all three of their children involved in music.

"The possibility of acquiring this wonderful instrument would be a true blessing. I know she will give the instrument a loving and musical home and make the best of having a great instrument as she continues her career." - Dinorah Marquez, Director, Latino Arts Strings Program


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