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Butler Community Arts School
Butler Community Arts School

The String Scholars Project

The String Scholars project is a community outreach and engagement program of the Butler Community Arts School (BCAS), providing high quality arts education to youths who do not have such access otherwise. This education is provided via summer camps and group classes, including String Scholars Camp, Strings Camp, Bass Camp, Butler Children’s and Youth Orchestras, and private lessons in violin/viola/cello/bass. The String Scholars project is designed to provide underserved youths with access to a meaningful arts education, depth of instruction, exposure to new art forms, and interaction with college students. String Scholars activities are designed to provide a continuum of arts education activities for ages 5 through 18. Community partners play a key role in the String Scholars project through joint planning, implementation and assessment.

String scholars camp richard auldon clark A string player playing among other string players A string player playing among other string players

Primary goals are: 

  1. to provide comprehensive strings instruction and ensemble experiences to underserved youths, ages 5–18;
  2. to expose youths and their families to campus arts activities that will encourage them to make the arts a part of their lives;
  3. to provide free public performances by the participating youths on campus to acclimate families and youths to the college environment as well as provide exposure to new art forms and promote lifelong enjoyment of the arts; and 
  4. to utilize Butler students as "Teaching Fellows" and develop their civic-mindedness and perspectives as artist-citizens.

A string player mentoring a younger string player as they play together

To meet our goals, we utilize varied programming, both on and off campus, to bring youths and college students together for meaningful, transformative experiences. String Scholars activities are designed for active, intensive engagement in the arts on an ongoing basis. The average participant will be involved in two or more activities and receive a minimum of 70 contact hours of arts education. 

For more information, please contact the BCAS director, Karen Thickstun, at

A group photograph of BCAS string players

“I just have really enjoyed my time maturing as a musician from age 5 (to 18) here, and now I’m back at age 19 ready to teach.” —String Scholars Project participant 

“I felt a rich connection to all of my teachers and they are amazing, funny, talented people. You could truly be yourself around them.” —String Scholars Project participant 

“One thing that I’m particularly thankful for is that it (BCAS) connected my son not just with music or with a set of particular instruments, but with Butler University. He ended up pursuing Music Composition as a major at Butler” —Parent of a String Scholars Project participant 


In recent years, BCAS programs have received support from: The Summer Youth Program Fund, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation; F.R.Hensel Fund for Fine Arts, Music, and Education, a fund of The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency; and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Butler UniversityBCAS Sponsors