JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

From Bach to Beethoven, local elementary school students are doing more than just learning about classical music; they’re actually playing it with help from members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

Jump Start Strings is a Communities In Schools of Jacksonville after-school initiative aimed at teaching at-risk elementary students how to overcome adversity through the power of music.

Communities In Schools afterschool project manager Gwen Collins says, “Jump Start Strings is a Communities In Schools of Jacksonville after-school music instruction initiative for first through fifth grade children learning to play violin, cello and bass.”

It’s supported through a partnership by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. A Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra musician offers professional music instruction after school in six area elementary schools one day per week, along with supervised practice times four days per week.

This Communities In School of Jacksonville program was established to build skills, discipline, and self-esteem while fostering academic, creative, and social development.

“Learning and playing an instrument is a way for children to connect with each other as well as delve deeper into their personal creativity,” Collins says. “By setting and meeting individual and group goals, our students learn that they can face something challenging and overcome it through hard work and perseverance. A lesson that we hope they carry through their academic careers and personal life.”

Collins says some participants end up pursuing music in earnest. Four participating fifth grade students this year have recently been accepted to La Villa School of the Arts.

Collins says to get involved students have to attend one of the six schools where the program is offered and be enrolled in the Communities In Schools afterschool program called TEAM UP. Visit the Communities In Schools website at cisjax.org or call 904-366-6350 to see if your school has a program.