The Community String Project

The Community String Project began in July of 2009 with the goal of serving all youth in the East Bay area, regardless of income, through an innovative, school-based music program centered on string instruments. In addition to the value of learning how to play an instrument (which has been shown to increase academic performance), students also benefit from being involved in a supportive activity that assists with dropout prevention, fosters community engagement, and increases self-esteem. Read our complete history here.



CSP provides after-school lessons to elementary students (grades 3-5), a Youth Orchestra Program for middle school students, and evening beginner and ensemble lessons for adults and high school students.

 

Students in Grades 3-5 have the opportunity to play the violin, viola or cello. CSP owns and maintains an inventory of instruments that are available for rent to our students at minimal cost. Instruction is provided free of charge for students (up to grade 12) who participate in the free/reduced lunch program.  Currently, 38% of the youth being served by the CSP meet the criteria for subsidized instruction.



CSP anticipates adding 10-12 students annually and is committed to including youths from all economic levels. In light of the Rhode Island economy, CSP has experienced an increase in both subsidy requests and general participation as parents and educators seek meaningful and cost effective community-based programs for their children. Donations are gratefully accepted, visit our support page to discover ways to donate.

Our Mission

The mission of CSP is to provide affordable and accessible string lessons, transforming lives through an innovative music program.

The csp Vision

Community String Project envisions a community where quality of life is improved through music.  We strive to:

  • Enrich the community through musical entertainment.

  • Provide equitable music training.

  • Bring musical talent to the forefront.

  • Participate in the holistic development of children.

  • Provide performance opportunities for participants in CSP.

meet Our talented instructors

Program and Executive Director

Alan Bernstein, is retired from the Newport School Department where he had taught for 27 years. While in Newport he held the position of Supervisor of the Arts and was the Newport Teacher of the Year in 2014. In addition to his administrative duties, Mr. Bernstein also directed the Rogers High School Symphonic Orchestra, Band, and Jazz Ensemble as well as the Thompson Middle School String Orchestra.
Mr. Bernstein holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Rhode Island and in 2007 received a Distinguished Music Educator's Award from Yale University. Mr. Bernstein is an active conductor, composer, and arranger of jazz and symphonic music with several pieces published by LudwigMasters and Tempo Music in addition to being a sought-after double bassist. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island with his wife Karen.

Alan Bernstein
Colt Andrews, Guiteras, Hugh Cole and Rockwell Schools

Amanda began teaching music as high school senior, providing private lessons to elementary and middle school students in her community.  She went on to attend Rhode Island College, majoring in music performance with an emphasis on violin, and performed with the RI College symphony and chamber orchestras, as well as the chamber choir and other college ensembles. She is currently a violinist with the RI College Chamber Orchestra, sings with the RI Civic Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, serves as cantor and violinist for Saint Patrick's Church in Cranston, and performs as vocalist or violinist for public and private events in the community.

amanda neves
Adult Beginner, Intermediate & Chamber Strings

Nathan began playing the violin as a child, and has now accumulated over 20 years experience as a violinist, composer, musicologist, and educator. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in violin performance and a Master of Music in Composition from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York; both with honors and awards including Dean's Honor List, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Van Slokema Prize for Excellence in Musicological Research. Mr. Rodriquez has performed with several orchestras and ensembles across the United States including the National Festival Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Nathan is employed as the staff violinist for an importer of stringed instruments and is a violinist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Community Orchestra.

nathan rodriguez
Gillian.jpg
Hugh Cole 

Gillian Gallagher, most recently an instructor at Newport String Project and, previous to that, at Community Music Works, is a graduate of the Julliard School of Music. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees there  and is an active performer in the New England area as well as a substitute in the RI Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gillian Gallagher
Guiteras, Hugh Cole and Rockwell Schools

Peri DeLorenzo began playing violin at the age of four, and after ten years of studying the Suzuki Method began taking lessons at the String Academy of Wisconsin.  Eventually Peri earned a degree in Violin Performance and Spanish at Indiana University where she studied with Brenda Brenner and Mimi Zweig, both pioneers of music education at Indiana University. After receiving her degree she moved to New York City and performed in orchestras and smaller ensembles in venues all over the city and developed a particular interest in Irish folk music and traditional American country music which she has performed throughout the country. In addition to her performing and teaching Peri has been a barista, worked for WNET in New York in public media and was a development intern for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

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Peri deLorenzo
Hugh Cole School

Wendy Rios has been a performer and teacher in Rhode Island for more than twenty years. She attended Rhode Island College where she was a three time recipient of the Bicho Memorial Scholarship.Wendy was an active board member of the Rhode Island String Teachers Association an served as conductor of the Intermediate String Ensemble at their annual String Fest. 

Wendy maintains an active private studio with more than 30 students. She was the the first violinist for the Pernsmbuco String Quartet for more than five years and is currently the 1st violinist in the Amici e Musica Chamber Ensemble. Ms Rios has performed for the Chopin Club, Rhode Island College Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Bel Canto Opera Company, Providence Opera Company and in numerous theater productions across the area.   She can also be heard on a variety of local recordings.

wendy rios
Adult Advanced String Ensemble

Mary Casale is a violinist and educator with over 40 years experience teaching music at all levels preK-12 and higher education in both public and private schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She has been active in the Massachusetts area since
1991 working at Bridgewater State University, UUMASS Dartmouth, the SMARTS Summer Institute, and most recently with Mark Wood’s Electrify Your Strings program igniting potential and inspiring passion for traditional  instrumental and choral groups through contemporary music and technology.
She has been an active member of MMEA All-State, MMEA Southeastern District and SEMSBA and MICCA music festivals as adjudicator, manager, and conductor. She is recently retired as director of orchestras in Mansfield, MA. Currently, Mary is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College and maintains an active private studio at Mockingbird Music Studios in Mansfield, MA

Mary Casale

Mary Casale is a violinist and educator with over 40 years experience teaching music at all levels preK-12 and higher education in both public and private schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She has been active in the Massachusetts area since
1991 working at Bridgewater State University, UUMASS Dartmouth, the SMARTS Summer Institute, and most recently with Mark Wood’s Electrify Your Strings program igniting potential and inspiring passion for traditional  instrumental and choral groups through contemporary music and technology.
She has been an active member of MMEA All-State, MMEA Southeastern District and SEMSBA and MICCA music festivals as adjudicator, manager, and conductor. She is recently retired as director of orchestras in Mansfield, MA. Currently, Mary is an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College and maintains an active private studio at Mockingbird Music Studios in Mansfield, MA

Violin, Viola, Cello Instructor

Emily Plunkett is a violinist and music educator with a passion for teaching children and adults

about music. She received her Bachelors of Music in Music Education from Long Island

University, where she studied violin under Dr. Dale Stuckenbruck. Emily is currently the

Elementary String Ensemble Director for the Milton Public Schools in Milton, M.A. Emily was

previously a string teacher in the Fall River Public Schools. Emily continues to be a

strings instructor and the primary cello instructor for the Community Strings Project (CSP) in

Bristol, R.I. Along with maintaining a private lesson studio, Emily has had the pleasure of

performing with several ensembles, including the Chamber Orchestra of

Barrington at Saint John’s (COBSJ), the Ocean State Pops Orchestra (OSPO), Aurora

Collaborative, and the South County Chamber Orchestra (SCCO).

Emily Plunkett
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Classical Guitar

Michael Barclay de Tolly, guitarist-composer-teacher, graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in Traditional Composition and a minor in Jazz Arranging, studying with John Bavicchi and Herb Pomeroy, and receiving an award for composition.   He also earned a master’s degree in Music Education from the University of R.I. with a focus on classical guitar performance, where he was elected into the music Society of Pi Kappa Lambda.  He performs regularly as a soloist and with small ensembles performing classical, jazz, and blues-rock guitar, often featuring original compositions and arrangements. Mr. B. de T. has additionally worked as a studio musician and a private studio instructor. In the spring of 2020 Michael retired from a twenty five year career as a music teacher in the Portsmouth School Department, where he directed the chorus program at Portsmouth Middle School and was the musical director for musical theatre program.

Michael Barkley de Tolly

CSP is always seeking highly qualified instructors on violin, viola, cello and bass, in addition to conductors for our youth and adult ensembles. If you are interested in becoming a member of the CSP team please contact us at the below address. Here is a copy of the job description.

 

To apply, email your résumé and a cover letter to alan@communitystringproject.org.  Call 401-500-1243 for more information

Board of Directors

Officers
Officers

Peter Bodner - President

Fran O'Donnell - Vice President

Catherine Hawkes- Treasurer

Christine Manchester - Secretary

Board Members

JoAnne Camara

Lavinia Gadsden

Jorge Gardos - Musical Advisor

Joan Wallace

Glenn Wolf

Honorary Board

Robert Arsenault

Bruce Carlsten

MaryKae Wright

Advisory Board

Dr. Mark Churchill - Director, El Sistema, USA

Francisco Noya - Resident Conductor, RI Philharmonic

Sebastian Ruth - Artistic Director, Community MusicWorks

Support the Community String Project!