Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell paid a surprise visit to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade music classes at ETM partner school Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary in East Harlem on Wednesday, December 20th.
ETM's partnership with Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School provides every student with music instruction, including violin class for all students in grades 3-5. As part of their music classes this fall, the students learned about Mr. Bell's life and work and wrote him letters. Their studies culminated with "Joshua Bell Day," when Mr. Bell surprised the young musicians with an in-school visit to speak about his work and to share his love of classical music. He played for and spoke with the students, and they performed for him. Later, he played a short recital and held a question-and-answer session for a larger group of students.
During his visit, Mr. Bell compared schools with ETM's program favorably to those without it: "I've visited schools that don't have this program and talked to the kids, and then I come to a school that has this program, and the self-esteem of the kids is just much higher and they're very proud to have an instrument. It gives them an individuality, [and] a way to work together."
"To have an artist like Joshua Bell take the time to visit with these students is such an honor for the school community," said ETM Executive Director Katherine Damkohler. "He is not only a wonderful musician, but also a terrific human being."
Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary Principal Suzanne Kaszynski was excited about the impact that Bell's visit had on her students: "The children got to see possibilities for themselves they never imagined."
Mr. Bell, whose current CD, Voice of the Violin, is at the top of the classical charts, is widely known for his performance on the soundtrack to The Red Violin, which earned an Oscar® for best original score.
He became involved with ETM after meeting Ms. Damkohler and learning about the organization's programs and successful partnerships in disadvantaged schools in New York City. He has also visited ETM partner school P.S. 68 in the Bronx and serves on ETM's advisory committee.