Creating stronger learners, building confidence, and opening new doors through music

Harmony Overview

Harmony is a strings instruction program that breaks down barriers to music education, provides an accessible entry-point, and creates a musical pathway for underrepresented students. Launched in 2016 as a small after-school program, Harmony has expanded to serve up to 70 second, third, fourth, and fifth grade violinists and cellists at Riverview West Side School of Excellence (St. Paul), a K-5 dual-immersion Spanish-English school where 80% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch and 88% are students of color. Harmony addresses the community’s need for equitable music opportunities for youth by supplementing Riverview’s general music education curriculum. By learning violin or cello in Harmony, students develop artistic and life skills, and become stronger learners and leaders in school and beyond.

With a suggested $20 annual participation fee (which is waived for families who can’t afford it), Harmony provides small and large group instruction three days a week, instruments, performance opportunities and enrichment activities. Harmony also addresses the need for greater access to music and the arts in St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood. Local Harmony concerts – including performances at Riverview, Humboldt High School, senior care centers, and with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra – build meaningful community connections, while Harmony’s performance at GTCYS’ Spring Festival brings together the broader community at Orchestra Hall.

As they progress, Harmony students and alumni advance into GTCYS’ school-year orchestras, beginning with Philharmonia East led by Harmony Director/GTCYS conductor Mary Sorlie. We bridge the opportunity gap by providing need-based scholarships, so students benefit from the full GTCYS experience, which includes weekly rehearsals, sectionals with professional musicians, retreats, and 5-7 performances at venues ranging from the Veterans Home to Orchestra Hall. To support their continued individual development as they move up through GTCYS’ orchestras, each student benefits from regular private lessons with a high-quality instructor and free instruments.


Harmony rehearse at Riverview West Side School of Excellence on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings from 8:00am – 9:15am.

Cultural and Teaching Philosophy

Our instructional approach focuses on cultivating not only musical ability, but the whole person. Harmony recruits professional musicians equally passionate about becoming highly effective music educators and influential community leaders. Harmony utilizes high quality music instruction to cultivate relationships, build character, expand networks and bridge communities.

Rigorous string instructional methods and pedagogy are combined with intentional approaches to cultural sensitivity and community relationship building. We aim to equip teachers with skills and methods to maximize human potential and effectively serve families from a diverse array of backgrounds.

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Audition for GTCYS!

GTCYS auditions are opportunities for students to play their instruments so we can get to know them and match them with one of our ten school-year orchestras for the 2023-24 season. To audition for GTCYS, students register online, record a video, and submit an audition online.