Creating stronger learners, building confidence, and opening new doors through music


In October 2016, GTCYS launched Harmony, a new El Sistema-inspired music program in partnership with Riverview Elementary School on the West Side of St. Paul. Harmony started with 18 students in 3rd grade. Led by seasoned violin instructors and GTCYS conductors Barbara Flooding and Mary Sorlie, the program provides violins, group lessons, performance opportunities on the West Side and at GTCYS concerts, mentoring by GTCYS students, and transportation home after each session. Though it takes nearly $3,000 per student to operate, Harmony is highly accessible with a suggested $20 participant fee per year, thanks to generous donors.

In 2017-18, Harmony doubled in size to serve 40 third and fourth graders three days a week instead of two. The addition of semi-private violin lessons with a professional teaching artist boosts students’ individual progress, while four performances – including at Orchestra Hall – provide incentive to excel. Harmony students are also inspired by a unique mentorship aspect with older GTCYS musicians who lead activities and serve as role models. Summer lessons and camp participation help students continue their progress.

2018-19 brings continued expansion as the program grows to 60 students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.

Our long-term vision is to create a beginning level Philharmonia West Side orchestra, so Harmony students can experience the benefits of playing in an orchestra in their own neighborhood. WIth continued support, Harmony alumni will eventually be able to move through GTCYS’ tiered orchestra structure, experiencing the full impact of GTCYS’ holistic programming and building valuable skills that help them succeed in school and beyond.


Harmony rehearses after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at Riverview Elementary School.

Teaching Artists

Isabel Dammann, Teaching Artist

Isabel is an accomplished classical violinist and fiddler currently living in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Lawrence University in 2017 with Bachelor’s degrees in Violin Performance and Geology, and has spent the last few years exploring various musical styles and jumping on every opportunity she can to expand her versatility as a musician. Read More »

Barb Flooding

Barbara Flooding, Lead Teaching Artist

Ms. Flooding recently retired as orchestra teacher at Valley View Middle School in Edina. Her teaching career began at St. Cloud Apollo High School and North Junior High School, where she directed the Apollo Symphony, Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonia, as well as two junior high orchestras. Read More »

Mary Sorlie, Lead Teaching Artist

As a studio teacher, Ms. Sorlie enjoys teaching violin to students of all ages and abilities. A GTCYS alumna, Ms. Sorlie was awarded the 2011 MNSOTA Master Teacher: Studio Award. Read More »


Harmony Mentorship

Read about Harmony mentoring opportunities here.




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