David France plays his violin in the subway beneath Boston to bring joy to some and to raise money for the after-school program he founded in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.
His program, Revolution of Hope is an after-school orchestra he began a few months ago as a result of his experiences with the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program. The fellowship sent him to Venezuela where he experienced what the Sistema model could do for underprivileged kids. The Sistema model brings instruments and instruction to kids who would not otherwise have such an opportunity and it can change lives.
Those who complete the fellowship are tasked with sharing music education in a similar fashion – not unlike a pay-it-forward plan. France picked Roxbury for his pay-it-forward obligation because he believed people don’t often allow themselves to see beyond the stereotypes. To France, being a classical music lover in the inner city is the ultimate rebellious act.
France went from school to school in the Roxbury district, meeting with leaders and officials in an effort to get them to let him start a program for the kids, without compensation for himself. Finally, he went to the Dearborn Middle School where he met Jose Duarte, the principal. Duarte gave him the chance he’d been looking for.
Duarte was impressed by France’s vision for getting the kids to play the violin and by his willingness to show up every day to work with them. He described the musician as persistent, resilient and called his dream outstanding and dynamic.
The program was hosted at the school and made available to whole community. France was able to gather 22 donated instruments, find an assistant, a few instructors and then convinced a small group of kids to give it a shot.
Now he has 12 children who practice five days a week after school. They enjoy the music and the socialization. The kids have come to appreciate France’s dedication
Some of the participants have noticed that being part of this program has brought positive changes in other areas of their lives. Amaya says playing the violin brought her out of her shell. Her father says it has taught her patience and he sees that helping particularly with math.
Betty Neal Crutcher, a board member for the orchestra says the program gives kids a place to come and be part of something. They can share their music appreciation and talents with peers who don’t laugh at them.
It is France’s hope that the program will grow and reach all over Boston. He sees it as a world-class orchestra for kids everywhere and hopes someday every child has access to music in this way.