Buffalo String Works' mission is to provide high-quality music instruction on stringed instruments to children of low-income, refugee and immigrant parents. We serve the west side of Buffalo, a community that is comprised primarily of recently displaced families from all over the globe. BSW recognizes the significance of music as a universal language and through our programming, we offer a creative outlet for children and their families who are searching for a sense of belonging in a new community. 

Buffalo String Works is inspired by the principles of El Sistema, a best practice program of music instruction currently offered in many cities around the world, targeting children from low-income, underserved communities. El Sistema studies have shown the great benefit of regular, after-school music programs for children in such underserved communities. Students have been noted to experience increased civic engagement and develop important soft skills such as ambition, motivation, teamwork and work ethic, while experiencing joy and inclusion in their community. 

As committed educators, we also aim to create an environment that transcends our local efforts, by providing a training ground for teachers who will carry on and expand comparable programs. By cultivating our teachers' pedagogical and artistic skills and by affording them the opportunity to connect with Buffalo's refugee community on a deep, personal level, we hope to see leaders emerge to build a socially-aware and sustainable program of musical advancement for our city and beyond. 

What I like about [Buffalo String Works] is it brings me joy and all the people who play with me. It brings joy for me and them.
— -BSW Student


The inspiration for Buffalo String Works occurred after a concert in March 2014 at P.S. 45 International School, an elementary school on Buffalo’s west side. Elise Golove, the music teacher at the school and BSW co-founder, received funding to engage a group of musicians, which included co-directors, Yuki Numata Resnick and Virginia Barron, to play for her students. What transpired that day was very special indeed! After playing a movement of Johannes Brahms’s Piano Quartet in C Minor, the students were asked what the music meant to them. A little boy peered out from underneath the desk where he was hiding and said, “I think it means, ‘I love you so much’.” He was right on, intuitively understanding so well what the music was communicating. The students overwhelmed us with their attention and focus; crowding around afterwards, asking questions, wanting to try the instruments, asking “When can we play?!”

“When, indeed?” we asked ourselves. It was in answer to this question that Buffalo String Works was born.

Buffalo String Works officially started in September 2014 with 17 students, four teachers and three teaching assistants. Since then, we've grown significantly! As of March 2017, we have 50 students, seven teachers, 17 teaching assistants and we're still growing!


Music Lessons: We currently offer biweekly violin and cello students to over 50 students in the city of Buffalo. Our teaching roster includes experienced local Buffalo music teachers, violin performance students from the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College and volunteer high school musicians. Click here to apply for lessons on behalf of a student or e-mail us for more information. 

BSW Presentations: In addition to children coming to us for lessons, our teachers travel to public school classrooms where they perform for the children and discuss aspects of their instruments and the music. It’s a win-win for everyone involved; the school-age students are exposed to music and instruments in a very personal and direct way and our teachers are given the opportunity to share their love and passion for music. Click here to bring BSW to your school or classroom, or e-mail us for more information.