Bridge the Gap brings chamber music into unexpected settings

SMU's Bridge the Gap Chamber Players launch a new initiative for kids in South Dallas.

Bridge the Gap Chamber Players

By Mary Guthrie
Meadows Communications

Bridge the Gap Chamber Players is at it again. Founded in 2011 by 10 current and former SMU Meadows students, the group is known for bringing chamber music into unexpected settings such as parks and nightclubs. They play an eclectic set of works ranging from Beethoven to Jimi Hendrix. Now Bridge the Gap bringing its brand of chamber music to elementary and middle school kids in South Dallas.

Bridge the Gap Chamber PlayersThe group’s new “South Dallas Strings” initiative has two main components: an online learning program for 4th and 5th graders at Martin Luther King and Dunbar elementary schools and an after-school music program for 6th, 7th and 8th graders attending Billy Earl Dade Middle School.

The online program, created in collaboration with Big Thought’s City of Learning initiative, consists of videos developed with the aid of SMU music education students. The videos include lessons on basic musicianship, ear training concepts such as melodic and rhythmic recognition and exploration of string quartet instruments.

Once the elementary school children have completed the online programs, they can spend their middle school years participating in an orchestra program housed at Fair Park.

“The goal of the program is to increase graduation rates and decrease conduct violations in schools," says Bridge the Gap Executive Director and current SMU student Sarah Israel (B.A. Music, B.A. Human Rights, and Meadows Interdisciplinary Major in Nonprofit Organization Studies ’16). “On a less quantifiable level, we hope to see an increase in community vibrancy and cohesiveness between South Dallas and the greater Dallas area. We believe that this project will demonstrate the power of chamber music to transform a community."

Bridge the Gap introduced the South Dallas Strings program to the public on April 11 during Community Day at Fair Park. The event featured chamber music performances by SMU and South Dallas artists and included a drum circle, refreshments and an “instrument petting zoo” where potential South Dallas Strings students experimented with a wide variety of instruments. Current or former SMU music students ran all stations at the event.

To help fund the initiative, Bridge the Gap has raised $8,000 in in-kind and cash donations, with an ultimate goal of raising $100,000 to cover the expenses of the program.

For more information, contact Sarah Israel at or visit the South Dallas Strings website.