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At the barn: Dance furthers music

HeartStrings Studio students left to right: Levi Wehrman, Jessica Williamson, Anna Luebke, Melene Thompson and Ben Gabriel with instructor Joan Molloy. Submitted photo

Members of the HeartStrings Suzuki Studio nonprofit Parent Association want everyone to know that it's holding a fundraising barn dance 6-9 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at 263 Liberty Road.

Tickets will be available at the door: $15 for adults and $10 for children.

Association member and dance organizer Kathy Metcalf says the price includes a simple dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches, veggies and chips.

"We're keeping it simple," she said.

Guests will hear the Rush River Ramblers, a band Metcalf said features fiddling.

They can also shop silent-auction items donated by local businesses including Buffalo Wild Wings, Lori's Spa, Mabel Tainter Theater tickets, and gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants.

Metcalf has a daughter in the HeartStrings program and said the studio has done some fundraising before but never a barn dance.

Proceeds from the event go toward providing scholarships for kids who couldn't otherwise afford the lessons and toward helping the studio's teachers pay for continuing education.

Metcalf's daughter has been learning violin at HeartStrings for about a year and a half, and the mom says, "It's been a phenomenal experience."

The studio uses the Suzuki method of teaching -- basically by ear and memory with no sheet music -- and students, as well as their parents, go through an intense learning process.

Metcalf must attend classes twice a week with her daughter and is expected to reinforce the lessons at home.

She describes it as an intensive process involving parent, child and instructor, and said, "They're educating the adults and the children through the whole process."

The mother says Joan Molloy, HeartStrings' founder and instructor, is gentle and systematic with high expectations. Another association parent, Kathy Wehrman, says the studio's program teaches much more than music.

Wehrman said the Suzuki approach focuses on building self-respect, confidence and discipline, too.

Metcalf said the lessons have given her daughter an ear and appreciation for music she didn't have before.

Something for all

Molloy said she started teaching in River Falls in 1991, later changing the studio name to HeartStrings. She said the Parent Association formed because most parents wanted extracurricular activities like teacher workshops and scholarships.

The non-profit PA has now grown to the point where it can provide some of those extras -- like scholarships and teacher training. Molloy is aware that the work can be perceived as an elitist activity, which she wants to avoid.

She works with all ages of kids and adults and says, "This education should be for everybody, whether they can afford it or not."

Molloy is the person to talk to about one of the scholarships. Metcalf says the process is pretty informal and a first-come first-served basis. HeartStrings asks that the child and their parents make at least a one-year commitment.

Metcalf, Molloy and Wehrman all mention that the HeartStrings Studio students will be giving a recital 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25, at Ezekiel Lutheran Church, 202 S. Second St.

Learn more about HeartStrings at or by calling 425-0170.