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 refugee and immigrant children displaced from all over the world.

Our classes encourage a sense of community and possibility. For our students especially, the universal language of music can be a lifeline. We aim to cultivate a positive space that supports their development into curious, confident, committed individuals who make a difference in their new home: exceptional musicians who are also exceptional citizens. We are also a training ground for young artists and teachers. For those working with our students, we seek to provide a transformative experience that inspires a lifelong commitment to inclusive community-building through pedagogy and music. Through our programming, Buffalo String Works transcends borders and bridges opportunity gaps between our students and their adopted city.

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 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!