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, MHP, Medical Director, Western New York Center for Survivors of Torture: Serving Asylum Speakers


Buffalo String Works provides rigorous music instruction and a creative home for children displaced from all over the world.

Our classes, attended almost entirely by refugee and immigrant children, encourage not just musicians, but a sense of community and possibility; our programming brings acclaimed artists to underserved neighborhoods where they are rarely seen. Together, they help bridge the opportunity gap between our students and their adopted city. For children with limited English, the universal language of music can be a lifeline, and our program aims to produce exceptional musicians who are also exceptional citizens: curious, confident, committed individuals who make a difference in their new home. They have already inspired others to make a difference: we are a training ground for young artists and teachers who we hope will establish transformational programs elsewhere. Like our students, our work here, born out of compassion and humility, transcends borders.

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.
— -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 4 short years, we've grown significantly; we now offer lessons in violin, viola, and cello to 60 students and have a dedicated staff of 11 teachers and 9 teaching assistants. Our dreams are to continue expanding and growing our BSW community!

Donate here.