HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A lot of work goes into learning a new instrument.

“It takes discipline and a lot of focus and courage to play an instrument like the violin,” said Mike Trepper, director of Prodigy Cultural Arts.

It’s not something every 7, 8, or 9 year old necessarily has.

But these students do have it.

“They have to set up their instruments. They help with the chairs. We have our little routine that we have to follow and they know what they have to do, exactly. And that makes them part of the whole system,” said Rafael Ramirez, Florida Orchestra Violin Instructor.

It wasn’t always that way, though.

Only six weeks ago, many of them had never even picked up an instrument before.

They learned for free through a collaboration between The Florida Orchestra and the University Area CDC’s Prodigy Cultural Arts Program, which focuses not only on what goes into learning an instrument, but also what comes out of it.

“It empowers them to do better in school, in the community, at home,” said Tepper.

It teaches them teamwork, perseverance, and confidence.

“Being part of something makes you important, makes you feel important.  Feel loved. Feel you are a really important part of something,” said Ramirez.

Not to mention, an appreciation for something they might not otherwise know.

“The music. It sounds so pretty,” said 7 year-old Cassie, who is a student in the group.

To get involved, visit The Florida Orchestra at https://floridaorchestra.org and the University Area CDC Prodigy Program at https://www.uacdc.org.​