HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)- Have you ever wanted to get your kid into music? If the answer is ‘yes’, here’s your chance to do it for free! 

The Florida Orchestra (TFO) has partnered with the University Area CDC’s Prodigy Cultural Arts Program and is offering free virtual violin lessons. Not only that, but the violin, along with worksheets, books, and other supplies are also provided to students free of cost.  

“Through our grant, we are able to provide high-quality instruments for all of our kids,” said violinist and TFO Community Engagement Coordinator Michelle Painter. “We provide them with their instruments, with pencils, with folders, with books. Really, anything they need to make sure that they are the most successful in this program and so that we can make it equitable for everyone.” 

The University Area CDC and Hillsborough County have jointly provided the funding for the musical program since 2018 but due to the coronavirus, TFO is now instructing about 20 children through group and one-on-one video conference sessions.  

“During this time, it’s COVID and the issues of civil unrest and racial injustice. It’s really important that young people have a chance for self-expression, and to get their angst out to share what’s on their mind, to share their living truth and their experiences,” said Prodigy’s Cultural Arts director Mike Trepper. “The way we happen to do that is through the arts.” 

Virtual Violin:

Painter explains to WFLA.com, professional artists and instructors like TFO’s musicians, while conscious of social distancing, are maintaining a hand’s on approach with their sessions, including offering student’s a virtual field trip to The Florida Orchestra.

“We are doing group classes online, and then we’re also providing buddy lessons for all of our participants,” said Painter. “We’re active role models for our kids. We’re teaching them life skills, we’re teaching them communication, problem-solving, anger management, on top of their education.”

What is Prodigy?

According to Trepper, Prodigy utilize the arts as a vehicle for positive youth development. Currently, Prodigy is offering over 40 free arts and life skills tutorials online. 

“We serve over 1,500 kids a year in various communities, and the arts can take place in various forms and so from drama to Visual Arts, to break dancing and hip hop classes to music production to culinary to violin lessons and photography. And the way we do arts and the way we do our program is that their life skills infused art. So it’s not just for arts for art’s sake. It’s life skills infused arts,” said Trepper. “All our all of our classes are led by professional artists and instructors.”

For more information about the Prodigy’s programs, click here or to view their online courses, visit their YouTube page.