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If you follow Ezinma Ramsay aka Classical Bae on social media, you are blown away with each video of her adding a classical twist to the top R&B, pop and hip-hop hits with her beloved violin. Her skills are impeccable and with her new program, Strings By Heart, she plans to teach New York City children how to master the violin as skillfully as she does.

Strings By Heart offers weekly individual and group classes for school-age children who will learn to “play every aspect of music from theory to improvisation and learn to play both classical and modern styles of music,” according to the website. Each child in the program will be provided with a free violin or cello and free music lessons.

When she visited the Fred R. Moore School in Harlem, Ezinma was surrounded with wide-eyed elementary school children who were mesmerized by every stroke of the violin and were jumping at the chance to get the small, hollow instrument in their hands. As the Nebraska-bred musician gave a taste of violin 101 to the eager youngsters, she was a natural at commanding their attention and keeping them engaged. That’s because when she wasn’t playing on stages with superstars like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, she was heavily involved in with providing New York City public schools with music programs at schools like P.S 166, P.S 9 and P.S 89. So she knows firsthand that the Big Apple is in dire need of more affordable music programs in underserved neighborhoods.

“I have more of an understanding of the school systems here,” she said when I asked why she picked New York City to house her program. “I would also really like to do it in Nebraska eventually.  But I think there’s a much greater need here than in Nebraska…So many schools don’t have music programs here. Like in Nebraska, you have music programs in your public schools and here it’s rare to have a music program. So I thought it was just a much greater need.”

Launching her program in the predominately Black Harlem will give the youth a much more diverse experience than Ezinma experienced, who had been playing the violin since she was four-years-old but didn’t lay eyes on another Black person in the orchestra until her teenage years.

“I was the only black person orchestra,” she said. “I didn’t see another Black person play the violin until I was about 15….But I will say it shaped me a lot. I think it kind of forced me to really push myself to be as good as possible, because I did always feel like this representation in many ways. But then also I didn’t really fit in, you know?… I think feeling pretty ostracized is what sort of motivated me to write a new narrative of what I want to be as a violinist.”

The idea for Strings By Heart came from her wanting “to make a truly affordable experience for kids of all walks of life.” For more information about how to enroll your child, click here.

 

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