This violin is a gift!
For children in under-served communities across the world, it’s a lifeline
A path towards excellence and a gateway to possibilities beyond imagination
The latest technologies meet the art of Stradivari and 500 years of violin-making tradition
Upcycled materials transform into conservatory-quality instruments in the hands of recipients
It will touch the lives of thousands.
When children play string instruments together, science and math scores go up, communication improves, violence goes down and the social health of communities improve.
The Open String works with established music programs in under-served areas worldwide to provide essential instruments for children to play music.
Advanced technologies and manufacturing techniques make fine instrument production accessible locally.
The Open String makes it possible for communities to create conservatory quality instruments for themselves.
Distributed manufacturing allows music programs to make their own instruments.
The Open String creates a platform of creative autonomy for children and their communities.
Communities use repurposed, recycled and responsibly harvested materials to create exceptional instruments.
The Open String approach to instrument making can carry on for generations and create greater health for communities and their environment.
The Antonio Stradivarius 'Braga' violin on which our instruments are modelled
In the 1990’s, Robert Brewer Young was a violin maker’s apprentice in the studios above Carnegie Hall. He founded The Open String by offering free bow rehairs and instrument repairs to blind musicians playing on the streets and subways of New York. Aware of the importance of music for community life, he expanded his assistance to various music programs around the city, breathing a new life into their broken instruments. When a flood in East Harlem damaged instruments in Robert Gasparri’s music program, he was around to recover and restore them. Gasparri’s students would later perform on those instruments in Carnegie Hall with Isaac Stern.
The Open String expanded and started to provide support to the Blind School in Calcutta and musicians in Sarajevo who were performing throughout a time of war. By organising international donations of instruments, strings, and fittings for players performing in harsh conditions, Robert realised that a simple gesture like collecting strings from other violin shops and sending boxes of supplies to these destinations had an impact which was transformative for a community.
In Argentina, The Open String offered support to the Orchestra Ludueña, where over 150 children living in an underprivileged neighbourhood make music together. In San Francisco, it supported three thriving music programs for the children of recent immigrants of Central and South America. In the Philippines, donations of supplies and instruments were combined with an instrument repair course.
There are well-established, effective music programs, orchestras and motivated music teachers around the world. What is lacking are high quality instruments for students.
Our goal is to help communities make hundreds of conservatory-standard violins, allowing music education at the highest level to be a part of their everyday lives.
With the support of the Cambridge Department of Engineering, we have developed advanced technologies that combine with traditional violin making to create fine instruments based on Antonio Stradivari’s c.1726 ‘Braga’ violin.
The children themselves are involved in the final stages of crafting their own instruments, giving them a personal connection to the violin.