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The Dorothy Gerber Strings Program (DGSP) has a legacy of providing at no-charge beginning and intermediate strings education to schools in Northern Michigan since 2000.  This service is made possible through The Cummings Fund in honor of Mrs. S. Dorothy Gerber, developer of Gerber Baby Foods.  The DGSP gives instruction on the orchestral string instruments: violin, viola, cello and bass.  While the emphasis of the Gerber Strings Program has traditionally focused on students from 3rd through 5th grade with upper level classes offered at a charge to the families, the DGSP will now provide string instruction from pre-kindergarten through seniors in high school under the umbrella of the Gerber program.  As the DGSP transitions into the new administration at the Charlevoix Circle of Arts beginning in the summer of 2017, we declare these values for the future of the program:

The Dorothy Gerber Strings Program is a local institution.  For the communities of Northern Michigan, the DGSP is your team in your town.  The DGSP provides the funding and resources to deliver music education to your children, but it is your children learning to share what they have learned through performance that represent us all

  • The DGSP endeavors to place a strings classes across Northern Michigan.  We want every child in the region to have a reasonable opportunity to study a stringed instrument.  While we cannot place a program in every school, we will make a sincere effort to choose locations that serve all the schools of a given area.
  • We will work with every interested school system (including superintendents, principals and teachers) to devise options that serve the students of their schools.  Given that every town and school has its own unique identity, we will make every effort to adapt our program to thrive in the places where it is offered.
  • We will educate your students in the fine art of performance as representatives of your community.  Student ensembles will be encouraged to perform where they live or go to school.  When they perform in the larger context of a DGSP concert, they will be recognized as representatives of their home community.

The Dorothy Gerber Strings Program will provide an excellent musical education. 
We are committed to hiring quality teachers who deliver quality programs to the students of the area.  We will continue to invest in the development of our teaching staff and continue to evaluate our programs so that they deliver the best possible education for your children.

  • The DGSP will only contract teachers who have experience and are skilled in teaching stringed instruments and will require their continuing development.  Our teachers will demonstrate a high level of professionalism in their roles as DGSP instructors.  The DGSP will maintain a strong collegial relationship with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, the leading professional orchestra in the region.  You will have ample opportunities to get to know our teaching staff and to hear our teachers demonstrating their expertise in performances around the region.
  • We will add an individual lesson program to support the DGSP which will provide a high-quality option for families wishing to see their children advance more rapidly.  The lesson environment allows teachers to customize the education to the particular needs and abilities of each individual student.  We will offer traditional lessons in 30, 45 and 60-minute increments and will also offer a Suzuki program, specializing in teaching very young students with high parental involvement.  These lessons will initially be offered at our DGSP studios in Charlevoix and Petoskey. 
  • School music classes work best when students receive instruction each school day for a full class period.  This is the same model that the band follows in most districts. The DGSP will continue to work toward this goal so that participating students and their communities have the best chance to succeed and thrive.

The Dorothy Gerber Strings Program will strive to make music education affordable for all families.  Because of the generosity of the Gerber Family and the availability of grants and other resources, the DGSP will make every effort to remove cost as a barrier for any family who wants their children to play a stringed instrument.  The DGSP recognizes the high value of the education we offer and desire that families make as much investment in this opportunity as is reasonable.

  • String classes are free of charge, but there are costs associated with procuring an instrument.  The DGSP will provide scholarship assistance to families needing help with renting an instrument for their child.  
  • A weekly fee will be charged for individual lessons, though there will also be a scholarship assistance program to help defray costs for families in need.
  • In the past, there has been an annual fee for the advanced orchestra portion of the program.  At present, the DGSP will no longer require this fee for participation in the Dorothy Gerber String Ensemble or for the Gerber Youth Orchestra.

It is the mission of the Dorothy Gerber Strings Program is to make music education available to students/families in Northern Michigan. It is not the goal of the DGSP to compete with band and choir programs for a small niche of musically-inclined students, but to expand the percentage of children and youth who participate in music.  We celebrate new participants as well as encourage students who wish to participate in multiple types of music endeavors. However, we recognize the inevitability that some students will find it necessary to choose one form of music education over another. The Gerber Program offers the option of stringed music education where there once was none. To this end, our posture toward other programs is one of mutual support and emphasis on the welfare of all students.  We desire partnership in raising the percentage of the area’s students who are active in music and seek collaboration with other music programs in providing a thriving and diverse music education for the region.

Dr. David Reimer

Music Director, DGSP
Fall, 2017

Dorothy S. Gerber

Welcome to the Dorothy Gerber Strings Program