Our Mission:


The mission of Up With Music (UWM) is to enrich the lives of children in Lawrence by providing music training through violin group classes, performances, and service opportunities, with the goals of increasing self-image, building healthy peer relationships, providing leadership training through mentoring, and building community,  all of which bring a positive direction to their lives.

Our goals:


  • Provide violin training to Lawrence children, with the focus on underprivileged and at-risk children 
  • Offer a learning environment that is both nurturing and challenging
  • Help young people develop self-discipline, a positive self-image and a vision for the future
  • Provide a high-level artistic and administrative staff
  • Teach mentor and leadership skills and build healthy peer relationships
  • Secure the financial resources for our programs to flourish
  • Network and provide performance opportunities for the students
  • Foster the students’ desire and ability to give back to their community

Who Are We?


Through violin lessons, children have achieved a skill they never dreamed of and have had performance opportunities that have enriched their lives.


Our Lawrence violin program began as a pilot program in 1998 with three students at the Community Day Charter Public School (CDCPS) in Lawrence, MA. From that time, several hundred children have participated in a successful violin after-school program called Community Strings that enriches the in-school violin lessons and provides violin group (Tuesday, Friday & Saturday) classes and performance opportunities for children, ages 6-18, in Lawrence. Community Strings currently serves children in Community Group’s CDCPS, Prospect School (both upper and lower schools), Gateway, and Webster Elementary Schools. Our Saturday classes some of the students who want more practice time as well as many of our older violin students who now attend high schools in Lawrence.  These students continue to be part of our program both as students and mentors.  We also collaborate with Youth Development Organization (YDO) in Lawrence to provide a beginning piano lesson program.


Our summer camp, Summer Strings, offers our students the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful week of fiddling, dancing, chamber music and art with a final performance at the end of the week. Our staff includes well-known fiddlers, outstanding dance, chamber music, and fine art instructors.


In 2010, Up With Music, Inc. was incorporated as a 501 © 3 non-profit organization, its formal structure allowing for an effective focus on the needs of children in Lawrence and more collaboration with other Lawrence organizations.


This year’s program includes over 100 students from:


  • The Community Day Charter Public School Prospect School,( Upper and Lower schools), Gateway and Webster Elementary Schools as well as graduates of the program who attend other Lawrence high schools
  • A collaboration with YDO to provide a piano instruction program


Primary staffing for the program includes:


  • Marcia Lier, Director of Community Strings, the principal violin teacher and co-founder, teaches both the in-school and the after-school group classes


  • Trudy Larson, Executive Director, and co-founder, brings her experience to teach and conduct the more advanced ensemble and to provide organizational and fundraising support


  • Cimone PhillipsAssistant teacher at Gateway and Prospect schools; teaches in additional community programs in the greater Boston area.


  • Lynne Wilby, piano teacher at YDO; private piano studio, soloist and accompanist for many ensembles.


 Our Mentoring Program


Mentoring is at the heart of the Lawrence program and benefits both the students who share their abilities and those that receive their assistance. Mentoring offers leadership opportunities and important connections with the younger children. An exciting and growing development is our internal mentoring program where several of our older Lawrence string students now mentor and inspire the younger ones. Over the years, many young musicians from the Merrimack Valley, the North Shore, and students from the Northeast Massachusetts Youth Orchestra have mentored in the group classes.




The name Community Strings was chosen for our CDCPS, and now Gateway and Webster School students, to convey the importance of building community through music and serving the community.


Our students perform for a wide variety of Lawrence events. Early in our violin program, the name “Community Strings” was chosen to convey the importance of building community through music, to reflect the way the children support each other and the way their parents bond together with pride in their children’s accomplishments. It also reflects the connection this part of our program has with Community Group. In January 2014, eighteen of our violinists performed for the Lawrence major‘s inauguration. Thirty five of our violin students were featured in a January 2015 all-Lawrence music festival; in August or 2015, 18 of our students were invited to perform in Boston on the main stage at Green Fest. In September 2017, a group of our violinists played at the dedication of a square in Lawrence for a World War II veteran, Frank Akeno. This past year students also performed in churches in the area as well as at smaller town events.


Our annual spring concert and our holiday concert are drawing large and enthusiastic audiences of family and friends.  Some of the other performances over the past years include: Veterans Day celebrations, the opening of newly renovated buildings by Habitat for Humanity in Lawrence, on a float in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, “Grandparents Day” in Lawrence, Literacy Day at the Lawrence library, Neighbors in Need Turkey Basket Hand-out Day, Kiwanis Club, as well as playing for parties in the town, and nursing homes.  Three of our top students, who learned fiddling with world-renowned fiddler Hanneke Cassel, were asked to perform with her at a music festival in Portsmouth. 


Some Important achievements

  • Growth in musical ability of the children
  • Strong mentor program with proven results building student leadership skills; our older students take on leadership roles as mentors with the younger ones
  • Increased performance abilities and experiences with varied audiences
  • Increased positive self-image
  • Growth of pride in the families and extended families and friends
Download UWM Brochure