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Fargo high school senior creates nonprofit to bring musical performances to rural schools

Fargo Davies senior Joanna Lin has put together a nonprofit group called Resonate that sets up visits by small musical ensembles to rural schools to give students a taste of music and career options. David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
A woodwind quintet performs for a Resonate performance in Finley, N.D., in 2019. Special to The Forum2 / 3
Joanna Lin works one-on-one with internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and improviser Gabriela Montero during Lin's residency in National Youth Orchestra 2. Special to The Forum3 / 3

FARGO — Inspiration struck Joanna Lin about two years ago after a trip to Washington, D.C., with other high school students from across North Dakota.

Now a senior at Davies High School in Fargo, Lin recalled conversations she had with students from rural parts of the state that underscored how different her musical experiences had been compared to theirs.

"Living in Fargo, I wasn't fully aware of what we have with the arts, all of these organizations I had kind of overlooked," Lin said, noting that after talking to a student from Rolette, she realized the entire band in that school had about 20 students, a number roughly equal to the number of students in the freshman trumpet section at Davies High.

Also, Lin said, the students at the Rolette school had no professional ensembles to listen to unless they wanted to drive one and a half to two hours to find one.

All of which got her thinking: How could she help rural students enjoy some of the same great music she had such ready access to?

The result was Resonate, a nonprofit organization Lin set up in the fall of 2018.

The organization's goals include helping bring ensembles of 3-5 musicians to rural schools.

So far, performances have happened in the towns of Mayville, Northwood and Finley, and Lin said about six performances are expected to happen in the near future.

In addition to the motivation and inspiration such performances provide, Lin said they also teach young people techniques they can apply to their own music.

Because some of the ensembles are comprised of music education majors from area colleges, the trips to rural schools give those future educators real world experience with students.

Lin said she is grateful for all of the musical experiences she has had, including playing with the National Youth Orchestra 2 in places like Miami, Fla., and New York City.

She said there's no way she could have had those experiences "without my band and band teachers and having such a robust arts community in Fargo my entire life."

Lin said her role with Resonate is as volunteer executive director, which means she takes care of much of the scheduling, marketing and fundraising.

"I do all the administrative tasks," Lin said, adding that she receives support and guidance from the organization's board of directors as well as college representatives who serve as liaisons between the nonprofit and rural schools.

Lin's own musical interests are focused on the piano, which she started playing when she was 6, and the clarinet, which she has been playing since sixth grade.

She said Resonate has opened her eyes to how much she enjoys running an organization. That, in turn, has helped refine her plans for college.

"I'm going to major in business and international studies," she said.

Anyone interested in donating to Resonate or working with the organization to bring an ensemble to a rural school may learn more by visiting the organization's website at