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Rappahannock Concert Association Student Outreach

Supporting and funding music education for the region’s youth has been a part of the RCA mission from its inception. Dating from 1983, RCA has hired performers who are dedicated to educating students, and student outreach programs have been made available in area schools. With the introduction of the Donor of Note giving program, additional gifts have made it possible to expand the RCA Student Outreach program.

Northern Neck Music Teachers Grant Application

Budgets for arts in public schools are shrinking everywhere. In March each year, RCA accepts applications from Northern Neck music teachers who need supplies, instruments and teaching materials for their classrooms. Please print out our application and complete it as directed.

Click here to read how teachers have used their grants.

Student Concerts

Garth Newel Piano Quartet Chamber Group

2024-2025 Academic Year

In November 2024, the Garth Newel Piano Quartet Chamber Group will hold a student concert. This performance is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bobby Blackhat Band

2023 – 2024 Academic Year

The Bobby Blackhat Band held a student concert. This performance was supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

2022-2023 Academic Year

Classical banjo player John Bullard and pianist Maria Yekimova held student concerts. Both performances were supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

November 2021

The Rainier Trio

On November 5, the Rainier Trio performed for the Northumberland Middle School students. This performance was supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

February 2020

Virginia Opera, The Pirates of Penzance

In February 2020, elementary students from Northumberland, Westmoreland and Lancaster Counties and students from Chesapeake Academy experienced Gilbert and Sullivan’s lively “The Pirates of Penzance,” performed by Virginia Opera.

October 2017 and October 2018

Colleen Potter Thorburn

In October 2017, RCA held a focus group for Northern Neck music teachers, who asked us to find a harpist for elementary students in Northumberland and Richmond counties. Ms. Thorburn presented playful and age-appropriate music at her outreach performances. She returned to the Northern Neck in October 2018 to visit elementary schools in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties.

November 2018

The Washington Saxophone Quartet

The Washington Saxophone Quartet, the most widely heard saxophone quartet in the United States, performed in Heathsville for middle and high school students.

April 2017

Stephanie Nakasian

Ms. Nakasian, a University of Virginia and William & Mary jazz vocal professor, gave a workshop to Northern Neck choral students on powerful but safe singing. They were enthralled by her ability to sound like a trombone with a mute, or a trumpet, or a clarinet. Best of all, she proved that improvisation is a learned skill!

October 2017

US Navy Command Outreach

Middle and High School students loved them! Even the principals asked to have them back. The US Navy Community Outreach Program sponsors free concerts and workshops to the public. These professionals answered endless questions about the importance of practice, discipline and the Navy’s boot camp program at the Great Lakes.

The Strings Crewe and the String Orchestra for Northern Neck Youth (SONNY)

In 2017, RCA received a $13,700 bequest from former board member Carolyn Crewe Gray. The leadership voted to spend it all on its mission to support music education for the region’s youth. RCA organized focus groups to identify the best use of the new funds. Participants included retired musicians, music teachers, executives from the YMCA and local school boards, and other community leaders who serve our children. They found that no strings instruction took place in the public schools, and recommended the Suzuki method, a natural learning process, for elementary-aged children, with the goal to initiate a youth string orchestra in the future. These youngsters are named “The Strings Crewe” after their benefactor. Instruments and private lessons are free. Parents must attend each lesson and supervise practice during the week and also provide listening time assigned by the instructors. Our students now perform at community events: Christmas recitals at the Northumberland Public Library; Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury for Veterans Day; and “pop-up” recitals at the Boys & Girls Club. In the 2023-2024 school year our students began playing for their churches and schools on request. They are now ‘troubadours’ for the community in the true sense of the word!

In Memoriam, Carolyn Crewe Gray


2023 Strings Crewe

May 2023, Strings Crewe and SONNY musicians and instructors performed at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Weems.

2021 Strings Crewe

June 2021: After three years of beginning instruction, ten Strings Crewe students (pictured above) began studying junior string repertory to form the String Orchestra for Northern Neck Youth (SONNY).

October 2020 - Campbell's Playground

strings crewe recital in playground

Recitals are actually performance classes, and the audience is the teacher. Here’s a video of Strings Crewe violins playing “Twinkle” variations in a ‘follow the leader’ exercise. Five students are the leaders. Each leader stands in front of the others and plays the first measure of his/her chosen variation: the melody is the same, just the rhythms are different. This is harder than it seems, because as the last measure of one variation is being played, the leader next in line continues playing while he/she steps forward to the leader’s spot, then must immediately launch into the chosen variation. YouTube Video

February 2020 – St. Johns Farnham Church

strings crewe recital in playground

A heartwarming recital by our 18 violin, viola and cello musicians, aged 7-12, was held in this 1737 restoration with beautiful acoustics.

August 2019 - Campbell Memorial Presbyterian with the USAF Strolling Strings

The Strings Crewe hosted the famous USAF Strolling Strings at its August 2019 recital at Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Weems. Twenty uniformed musicians filled the sanctuary with uplifting selections, and provided the audience with stereophonic music while strolling around the pews. A unique and uplifting experience!


Rebecca Young, Cello. She graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA where she studied cello and graduated with a degree in Music Education. She taught public school music in Ohio and New Jersey, and played with the Akron POPS Orchestra. Mrs. Young teaches her cello students at the Northumberland Public Library in Heathsville.
Mei-Li Beane, Violin. She studied music at Rutgers University, the Conservatory of Seville, Spain and the College of William and Mary from which she holds a degree. She is on the board of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestra and teaches at the Providence Classical School.

Greg Bowen, Violin/Viola. He earned a BA in Viola Performance from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Music and Pedagogy from Texas State University. He is certified to Suzuki Level 3. In addition to teaching Strings Crewe and SONNY students, he teaches at the Greenspring International School of Music in Richmond.

Bruce Passaretti, Conductor, String Orchestra for Northern Neck Youth. He is the band and guitar teacher at Montross Middle School. Mr. Passaretti is also the assistant director for the Westmoreland High School Marching Eagle Band. Prior to his employment in Westmoreland County Public Schools, he received his Bachelors of Music in Music Education from Grove City College, PA in 2016. Mr. Passaretti received a Masters of Music in Music Education degree from Boston University in 2021. He is currently a Music Director at Nomini Baptist Church.

Arline Hinkson, Piano Accompanist and Crewe Advisor. She has been active as a performer and teacher. She did her piano studies with Katherine Bacon at the Julliard School of Music and with Pierre Sancan at the Conservatoire de Paris. She received a Masters Degree in Music Education and a Professional Diploma in School Administration from Long Island University. She retired from a career as Director of Music for the Westbury School system on Long Island where she taught strings, employing her violin background. She has appeared as a soloist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, the C.W. Post Orchestra and the Northern Neck Orchestra. She has been a performing member of the Long Island Symphony, the North Shore Symphony, the Tidewater Intergenerational Orchestra and the Northern Neck Orchestra. Embracing the musical life of the area, she has been active as the secretary for the Rappahannock Music Club and has appeared in performances with churches and chamber groups.
Mrs. Hinkson has been a Crewe Program advisor since it began in September 2017. She is the piano accompanist for beginners and intermediate students’ group lessons, community events and SONNY concerts.


Instruments are sized to fit the child and provided free! The William Mason II Violin Shop in Fredericksburg gave 48 instruments in all sizes to the Strings Crewe. We thank Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church for storing our inventory.


After-school space for lessons are at the Northumberland County Public Library in Heathsville, Campbell Presbyterian Church in Weems, and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Warsaw.

Enroll Your Child

To enroll your child in the Strings Crewe, CLICK HERE to download our form. Contact Sue Nunn by email or by mobile phone (703) 577-3553.Students may choose violin, viola or cello. Instruments are sized to fit.

After three years in Crewe, students ‘age out’, but ‘age in’ immediately to the String Orchestra for Northern Neck Youth (SONNY). This is a program for all students capable of playing junior string repertoire. No auditions required.

For more information about the Strings Crewe or SONNY, contact Sue Nunn, Director Crewe Programs, at (703) 577-3553 or email. To donate specifically to RCA’s music education mission, CLICK HERE, or make your check payable to “RCA,” write “Music Education” in the memo line and mail to P.O. Box 342, Heathsville, VA 22473.

In addition to generous individual donors, funding support for the Strings Crewe and SONNY was granted by the River Counties Community Foundation, UUFR Servetus Endowment Fund, Virginia Commission for the Arts/National Endowment for the Arts, the Cole Trust, Northern Neck Orchestra, Morattico Baptist Church/Jessie Ball Dupont Foundation, Rappahannock Foundation for the Arts, and the Rappahannock Music Study Club.