Violins for Douglass Program

Violins for Douglass Program

The Violins for Douglass Program is an annual event organized by FDMHA to promote youth interest in and mastery of violins.

Frederick Douglass and his grandson Joseph

Frederick Douglass and his grandson Joseph

Frederick Douglass excelled at many things, including playing the violin. While traveling in Ireland, he fell in love with Irish music, purchased a violin and taught himself to play. When his grandson Joseph showed interest in the instrument, Frederick Douglass was delighted and trained Joseph to become an accomplished concert violinist. Joseph performed twice at the White House and was the first black violinist to make recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company.

The Violins for Douglass Program celebrates Frederick Douglass’ musical talent and aims to promote music talent, especially mastery of violins among the youth.

Program Features


FDMHA partners with music schools and other institutions/organizations to identify young people with musical talent. FDMHA reaches out to such young people and also awards needs-based scholarships to deserving students enrolled in a school or music program in the greater Washington, DC area (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia).

Children at the Violins petting zoo during the 2014 Violins for Douglass event

Children participating in the Violins Petting Zoo during the 2014 Violins for Douglass event

Violin Musical Petting Zoo

The Violin Musical Petting Zoo is a fun, informative and hands-on activity that enables young people to touch and play with the violin under close supervision. This activity was very popular with children who attended the 2014 event.

Musical Performances

Professional violinists as well as up and coming talents entertain the audience with their mastery of the violin. In 2014, Bryce Nathaniel Purnell of the Purnell Music Studio delivered a performance and received a scholarship award of $1,000. The second scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Joya Robinson of the PG County Philharmonic Kids Symphony.

Speeches and Lectures

Select speaker address the audience on topics relevant to the event. Speakers at the 2014 event included civil rights activist Rev Reginald Green (read bio here), Jennifer Payne (read bio here) and FDMHA President Moonyene Jackson (read her speech).

The inaugural Violins for Douglass Program was held August 9, 2014. For more information about the event, click here.

The 2015 Violins for Douglass Program was held October 11 in Washington, DC. Click here for details.

The 2016 Violins for Douglass Program will be held October 23 in Washington, DC.


  1. Greetings,

    Is this program only open to students who play the Violin or all stringed instruments? I ask because my daughter is a Violist at Duke Ellingtn School of the Arts.

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  2. We encourage all students interested in music to attend this work-shop. The focus is the violin. However, there will be a specialist proficient in all string instruments, on hand.

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  3. Do you offer violins lessons to the public ? I am interested in starting lessons for myself and my wife.

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    • Reply sent via email. However, others may be interested. Ottley Music School supports our Violins for Douglass Program. They have excellent teachers, violin and other instruments.
      Contact Ottley Music School
      University Town Center, 6525 Belcrest Road, Suite G-20, Hyattsville, MD 20783-2003
      OFFICE: (301) 454-0991 FAX: (301) 454-0298

      Lovancy Ingram is a stellar violinist and teacher. She will travel to your home to give lessons. Contact information:
      Phone: 202-255-1393

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  4. This was my first time attending violins for Douglass and this will not be my last…awesome and hearing the young people play along with Eboni Strings..thank you made Jackson aims for the invitation to attend with you today

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