TAMPA (FOX 13) - Music education is often the first class on the chopping block when there is a funding shortage. Now, thanks to a free program, students are getting the well-rounded curriculum that they need to be successful.
Students at St. Joseph's Catholic School are learning how to play the violin.
"You find someone that's playing the violin, it can change your mood from sad to, like, happy," offered Santiago Santos a student in the class.
It’s all part of the Straz Center's Arts Community Partnership program. The 10-year-old initiative provides free art education programs for schools and other organizations who can't afford them.
"Arts are being pulled out of a lot of schools so we're trying to fill that void for schools that can't provide,” explained Alice Santana, the program manager.
"We wouldn't have the opportunity to do it at all," offered Brenda Budd, principal of St. Joseph Catholic School. "We are a small private school. We wouldn't have the funding."
Students learn how to play instruments, go to workshops, and even get to watch live musical productions.
"Sometimes, when you hear it, you feel like another person comes out of you," said student Dave Miranda.
Aaron Carlson teaches the music class. He has a higher purpose for the students.
"My main goal is that, through the medium of violin, that they learn discipline, self-control, and good composure, and become a better person for it,” he said.
There are more than 45 organizations taking part in the program.
The Straz is now taking applications for the next school year.
LINK: For more information: www.patelconservatory.org