Video feature: Music unites University and middle school students

Sinfonia Allie Lichterman

Princeton University students in Sinfonia joined forces this spring with middle school students in the Community House After School Academy to play and discuss music. Above, history major Allie Lichterman of the Class of 2016 talks about getting the two groups together.

Video stills from Danielle Alio, Office of Communications

This spring, Princeton University students found common ground with Princeton-area middle school students over a shared love of music. The two groups, from Princeton University Sinfonia and Community House After School Academy (CHASA), met once a week to play their instruments and learn from one another.

Sinfonia is an orchestra comprised of about 60 Princeton undergraduates as well as graduate students. CHASA, a program of the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, offers daily workshops and homework support in arts, math, writing and science to students in grades six through eight.

Ruth Ochs, a graduate student in music who serves as the Sinfonia conductor, described how the sessions started.

"Allie Lichterman — she's a violinist — she came to me and mentioned this after-school tutoring program that she volunteers for and how many of these middle school students come with instruments after school," Ochs said. "She had the very clever idea of finding a way to collaborate with them."

"We play and talk about music. Sometimes we talk about why we started playing and what we like about it," said Lichterman, a history major from the Class of 2016.

Sinfonia and CHASA students had the opportunity to play at spring's Communiversity event. The program is set to continue with hopes to strengthen the bonds formed this past semester among the students.

"I actually like it when we play our instruments together," said Aba Smith, a sixth grader at John Witherspoon Middle School. "When we all play the same note I can actually feel it, and so it's like we are our own little family together playing instruments."

Princeton University Sinfonia and Community House After School Academy (CHASA) students talk about making music together. (Video by Danielle Alio, Office of Communications)