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Young Musicians Spend Summer Fine-Tuning Their Skills Thanks To Duke Grad

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DURHAM — How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. A good musician knows that practice is the key to mastering any instrument. A program in Durham is helping students spend the summer fine-tuning their musical skills.

Duke Graduate Margaret Lancaster is filling a need she first noticed while volunteering as a violin teacher atHarris Elementaryin Durham.

Lancaster is providing lessons three days a week from June to the first of August so students of strings stay sharp, even if they do hit a few flats.

"This summer program is just a small part of something great that's been going on for over three years now and I'm very proud to be a part of it," Lancaster says.

Many students use instruments provided by the school, and they often take them home to use while they practice. During summer break, though, the violins usually stay locked up at school -- until now.

"A lot of them do practice a lot and it's very advantageous for them to have a violin at home," Lancaster says.

With violin in hand, Bianca McNeil sees her future. "I actually want to go around the world and play different songs for people," she says.

Chuck Jackson also loves the thrill of performing. "I just feel something. I don't know what it is. I just feel happy."

But for Jackson, playing the violin is not a career move. He has other moves in mind. "If I get hurt or something and I can't return to football, it might be my backup play," he says.

As a future career or a hobby, playing violin has forever changed these young lives.

"I think the greatest thing is when the kids are happy with themselves and that they've learned something new," Lancaster says.

Lancaster won a $1,500 grant fromDuke University's Benenson Awards to create thesummer violin program.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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