Is the Island school’s strings program inessential to educating our children, as Tisbury All-Island School Committee representative Colleen McAndrews claims? (Public School Budget Soars, Oct. 25.)

Only if critical skills such as persistence, collaboration, creativity, discipline, confidence, communication, a sense of beauty and the ability to listen are inessential.

The strings program is a jewel in the crown of our kids’ education on the Island. It has produced at least a score of talented young musicians who enhance our Island life and earn their living as performers. But what’s less easy to see are the hundreds of kids who now excel in other fields because of the skills they learned mastering an instrument and playing in an orchestra. Leaders in such disparate fields as Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Google’s Larry Page, Microsoft’s Paul Allen, the World Bank’s James Wolfensohn, hedge fund founder Bruce Kovner may seem to have little in common, but what these and numerous other successful individuals all share is high-level musical training, mostly started in grade school.

“Be not afeared,” says Caliban in The Tempest, “for the isle is full of noises. Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” Please, let’s not silence our Island’s delightful noises. Save the strings.

Geraldine Brooks
West Tisbury