MVCMS Youth Programs

MVCMS has been committed to removing barriers for interested student players since the late 1980’s. Purchases of its own violins and several cellos over a number of years has supported student strings players in the early elementary grades. Currently 40 violins and 1 cello are in circulation to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the strings program.

A History:

In the early 1970’s the full orchestra at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School was discontinued due to a lack of string instrument students. Programs in the elementary schools had eliminated string instruments thereby providing no opportunity for continuation at the high school level.

In 1987 the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society initiated the development of an All-Island After School String Instrument Program. The program, which started with 47 students, expanded over a number of years and was eventually added back into the school curriculum from the early elementary grades.

Currently, the elementary strings program includes up to 200 students a year.
 Several teachers worked with the program through the 1990s, Nancy Jephcote became the full-time instructor 17 years ago and continues today. She is joined by part-time instructor Chelsea Pennebaker and several program assistants. We hope our support will continue a vibrant elementary strings program and interest in classical music.

“Access and Inspiration”

Access to musical instruments and instruction is the primary goal of the MVCMS.

Through our Lesson Scholarship Program, we help interested children who show aptitude pay for private instruction.   Since the program’s inception, the number of applicants has increased considerably, as has the support given to offset the cost of private lessons.  Currently, the MVCMS provides funds to about 15 students per year with partial scholarships, and we continue to reach out to private teachers for help identifying families who could use our support.   The response from parents has been enthusiastic:  we receive regular expressions of appreciation for positive influence music has made in the lives of their children.

 The MVCMS also continues to offer an annual College Scholarship to a deserving student pursuing music or music education. This is seen as a continuation of our support for music throughout the life span. We are pleased to have provided this support to many deserving students over the years.


In 2016, the MVCMS received a significant grant from the MVYouth in support of our “Access and Inspiration” program.  This has enabled us to purchase new student violins and violas, as well as provide an Artist in Residency program again this year.

Additionally, a Grant from The Tower Foundation and other private donations have allowed us to add violins to our loan program, and to purchase badly needed new cases for some of our current violin stock.

Thanks to these tremendous grants and gifts, the Violin Loan  Program will continue to enable more students to access to music.  Further, access to and participation in the Artist in Residency Program will keep students inspired and playing for many years to come.

Donations specifically designated for these programs are gratefully accepted.