The FOCUS program

FOCUS aims to introduce students from underrepresented communities to the study of music at an early age. Students who enroll in FOCUS are currently in Kindergarten/K2 at school (students in Pre-K/K1 are NOT eligible). The program provides high-quality beginning music instruction combined with demonstrations of many types of music and instruments. For all students, FOCUS enriches the music program in their schools. For many students, this head-start training will encourage them to next pursue the study of a musical instrument. FOCUS is not an instrumental program, but rather an introduction to music class.

Kindergarten students from underrepresented communities (Black or Latino) that are in Kindergarten/K2 in public, private, parochial, charter, or home schools in Boston and surrounding areas, can apply for admission to FOCUS.

Project STEP recognizes that certain racial and ethnic minorities are vastly underrepresented in classical music. Our mission is to address this imbalance by identifying musically talented underrepresented students from Boston and surrounding communities, providing them with comprehensive music instruction. For questions about eligibility, please contact:

FOCUS I is a 15-week introductory course on the fundamentals of music that takes place on Saturdays at the New England Conservatory of Music or Wednesdays at the Community Music Center of Boston. Students take weekly hour-long classes in the fundamentals of music including melody, rhythm and pitch. Additionally, there will be guest performances that showcase classical performers demonstrating different instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and piano, among others. FOCUS is not an instrumental program, but rather an introduction to music class.

Students are expected to be on time and attend every class. Also, students must practice their assignments every day at home between classes.

At the end of FOCUS I, all students will perform for family and friends at a recital in May. After successfully completing the course, students will be given referral information to a variety of Boston-area music schools. A small number of students interested in playing classical stringed instruments and demonstrating potential will be invited to FOCUS II, a seven-week summer session of group violin/cello lessons.

FOCUS is offered by Project STEP at no cost to the participants except for a $35 registration fee for each session (FOCUS I and II). Project STEP is a non-profit organization funded by generous nationwide corporate, foundation, government, and individual support. All instruments and materials used in class are provided for the students.

Classes for the FOCUS Program begin at the end of January. Apply Today

FOCUS II is designed to provide early instrumental training for children interested in playing classical stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). The course consists of seven weeks of twice-weekly group violin or cello lessons. Approximately 20 students from FOCUS I will be selected for FOCUS II: the criteria is based primarily on the child’s talent and her or his ability to focus. Enthusiasm, attendance, dedication, and parent participation during FOCUS I are also factors that are considered during the selection process.

Students who complete FOCUS II will be given contact information for Boston-area music schools to continue studying a stringed instrument if they are interested. In exceptional cases, a student may be invited for admission to the Project STEP program to continue his/her training.

Project STEP Children

About Project STEP
Project STEP is a non-profit organization devoted to preparing exceptionally talented students of color for careers as string players in the classical music profession. The program was developed to address the historic lack of representation of people of color, especially African-American, Latino and Native American musicians in classical music.

Why does Project STEP offer the FOCUS program?
We believe that the study of music is an enriching, enjoyable and meaningful activity in a child’s life, and as such music improves the quality of life. The FOCUS program provides early access to musical training, exposing students to different types of music and instruments. The FOCUS program hopes to generate enthusiasm for music, and to be a link between students and Boston-area music schools, enabling those who are interested to pursue musical study.

If you have any questions about the FOCUS program or Project STEP, please contact the Project STEP office at 617-267-5777 or email: