The Transylvania Times -

Benefit Set For Mountain School Of Strings


May 9, 2019

The Mountain School of Strings is a 501(c)(3) that was founded in 2010 to make music experience available to the youth in Transylvania County by offering professional instruction in playing stringed instruments.

“My mother, Ellen Lee, is a musician, and founded this organization, devoted to fostering a love of music, creative self-expression and the sense of accomplishment that comes from learning to play an instrument,” said Sarah Dearbaugh, executive director said. “We’ve woven our affordable music classes into the after-school education programs here to make them accessible, and they’ve become a part of school life. We’re growing. Under the leadership of our artistic director, Ryan Kijanka, our program has expanded to include a youth symphony and classes open to all ages.”

Question: Why hold a benefit on May 11?

Class tuitions pay for exactly half of the expenses of the program: teachers’ fees, scholarships, rent at the Music Center, instrument acquisition and maintenance, enrollment drives, sheet music and recitals. Our board is all-volunteer and relies on generous donors and community participation to keep the program going. The organization’s annual benefit is on Saturday, May 11, in the DFR Room at 36 E. Main St., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children and can be bought in advance at The terrific youth band, The Creekside Crawfish, will be opening the evening benefit concert. There’ll be some great music by our featured performers, The Knotty G’s, in concert with Kijanka. Join us in the fun, hear some music, meet new friends and enroll in a class.

Question: Why Music?

It’s the best way to train your brain, regardless of your age. We have an emotional bond to it, and new research is showing that it is the single best way to stimulate the brain. Catherine Loveday, of the University of Westminster, has studied this extensively and says, “Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t. It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”

Some researchers now argue that it also boosts speech processing and learning in children with dyslexia and other language impairments. Playing a musical instrument is really a complex experience because it integrates your vision, hearing and touch, as well as fine movements, and research is showing that it builds long-lasting changes in the brain. Even short periods of musical training in early childhood can have long-lasting benefits.

Question: Why are we planning to expand by including the adult community?

People have been missing the mark by playing brain games and filling in crossword puzzles. Turns out, learning to play a musical instrument seems to be one of the most effective forms of brain training. It’s been shown that musical training facilitates the rehabilitation of patients recovering from stroke and other forms of brain damage. Unlike commercial brain training products, which only improve performance on the skills involved, musical training has what psychologists refer to as transfer effects – in other words, learning to play a musical instrument seems to have a far broader effect on the brain and mental function, and improves other abilities that are seemingly unrelated.

The organization is seeking interested students, locations and teachers for our new adult programs. Send enquiries to:

For more information on the program, visit


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