Violins help Grace Church tune up after-school program

Posted: February 14, 2013

The Winchester Star

Instructor Stephen Arnold works with student Shalom Masiya, 5, during a Suzuki method violin class at Grace Community Church in Winchester. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Grace Community Children’s Learning Center director Karla Herrera helps student Thatcher Luebcke, 3, with the placement of a violin under his chin. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Despite fidgeting fingers and wandering minds, a group of local children were able to learn Wednesday about one of the finer things in life — the violin.

The Suzuki violin lessons, which cater to children, are now offered by Grace Community Church’s Children’s Learning Center as part of its new after-school enrichment program called the Grace Club.

“I like to play because violins are like my favorite things to play,” said Sydney Cox, 6, about why she enjoys the lessons.

A little more than two months ago, the less-structured after-school program offered only homework assistance, free time and play time and crafts.

Now, along with optional violin lessons, Grace Club includes Spanish and music classes, chapel, religious studies and homework assistance.

“It was our responsibility to make the most of their time,” said Karla Herrera Fisher, director of the Children’s Learning Center.

The church is located at 2333 Roosevelt Blvd.

Twelve children from third to fifth grade attend Grace Club at a cost of $55 a week. It has grown in popularity; just this week, three new children joined the program.

On Wednesday, students learned basic bow strokes while repeating the words “peanut butter sandwich” to help them play in tune. They also learned the basic parts of the instrument, including the scroll, pegs, bow, belly, tailpiece and saddle.

Hannah Lilly, 7, listened attentively for the next set of instructions with her violin poised under her chin.

She joined because she thought playing the violin would be fun.

“It’s my first instrument,” she said, beaming.

Mark and Elsa Fost enrolled their 4-year-old son, Julian, in the lessons for their intellectual value.

“It gives him discipline to focus,” Elsa said.

Most of Grace Club’s after-school population comes from Frederick Douglass Elementary School because the school is on its bus route.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at