For refugee children from around the world, BSW offers a means of expression that transcends the spoken word. Music and a sense of belonging are powerful supports for children learning about a new culture.
— Dr. Kim Griswold, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Western New York Center for Survivors of Torture: Serving Asylum Speakers


Buffalo String Works strives to foster vibrant, inclusive communities through the transformative power of music.

For our students especially, many of whom hail from all over the world, the universal language of music can be a lifeline. We aim to cultivate a positive space that supports our students’ development into curious, confident, committed individuals who make a difference in their new home: exemplary musicians who are also exemplary citizens. Through our intensive and thoughtful programming both in the classroom and on stage, we seek to transform our audiences, neighborhoods, and the Western New York community through the universal language of music. We strive to foster greater compassion and understanding across our city, offering a sense of belonging to new Americans and those who have long called Buffalo home.

I love violin, I found new friends and I made new friends. Next year, I will be back again for BSW!
— -current 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-founders, 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 opened its doors in September 2014. We offered violin lessons to 17 students and had a volunteer staff of 4 teachers and 3 teaching assistants. In 5 short years, we've grown significantly; we now offer lessons in violin, viola, cello, and bass to 85 students and have a dedicated staff of 16 teachers and 15 teaching assistants. Our dreams are to continue expanding and growing our BSW community!