Apple Hill is one of the few environments where one can clear away the external, operate from the core, and motivate oneself from within. Discovery, energy, and purpose are words many people use after they have spent time at our rural 100 acre campus in the hills of NH. Why is that? At the core of Apple Hill is this philosophy: we are inclusive – Apple Hill is open and welcoming to everyone. That means no matter who you are, what country you are from or, for our summer students, what age or level you are, you are welcome here at Apple Hill. Most music educational institutions are exclusive. One needs to audition to get in or sessions are grouped by age or level; many accept students from certain schools or give preference to students of certain teachers; and many do not accept amateur musicians or anyone over a certain age. The result, many of these institutions look the same. After being rejected from some of these institutions, it is easy for an individual to feel unwanted or just want to give up. Our goals and systems are structured to avoid that exclusivity. Apple Hill is now one of the very few institutions that has no audition process - we ask for a recording only so we can place people in their chamber groups by level; we accept all ages – one third of our students are over the age of 30 -- and all levels - we have career bound students as well as amateurs of all ages. At Apple Hill, we provide the opportunity for everyone to have the same chamber music instruction no matter who you are, where you live, or whether you have the financial resources. That was the beginning of Playing for Peace. Now when one visits Apple Hill in the summer, one immediately notices that it is a very diverse, multi-cultural place. We form partnerships with many organizations around the world to ensure that we have that diversity. In the U.S., we partner with Project STEP in Boston, Dallas Young Strings in Dallas, TX, and Community Music Works in Providence, RI – programs that support African-American and Hispanic-American musicians - and we partner with the Adult Amateur Chamber Music Association and many schools and universities to attract adults and young music students. Around the globe we partner with organizations in the Middle East, Haiti, Malaysia, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, Cyprus, and US embassies. From September to May I travel with the Apple Hill String Quartet to these areas, work with the students, and then secure funding to bring a number of them to Apple Hill for one month each summer. A little over one third of our 300 summer students receive full tuition assistance. So these partnerships, together with generous support from foundations, underwriters, and individuals from Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace Society and Tuition Assistance Fund, make this diversity possible. Apple Hill is not a political organization; we are a politically aware organization. We are not about taking sides or political aims – we’re about connection and we connect through the five skills of chamber music – watching, listening, being sensitive, being flexible, and adjusting. At the core of Apple Hill is respect and encouragement for the individual, regardless of a person’s race, nationality, or politics. We put people in chamber groups – for example musicians from the Dallas program with musicians from rural New Hampshire or musicians from the Middle East - and we teach them how to start a piece together, how to listen, and how to breathe and move together. There is no conductor, so they must rely on interpersonal dynamics; you can imagine what it must be like to look at someone from the other side of the world or of a different race and start a piece of music together. It’s all about being a good musician, it’s about discipline, but most of all it is about willingness. One needs to be willing to leave his or her comfort zone and dig deep, find the core, and the true self. As a result, something profound happens. Participants discover they want to choose music as their profession and become performers or music teachers. Others feel validated, not rejected, and bring that sense of accomplishment and strength to everything they do. Apple Hill is probably the only place where you will see a 13 year old from Ramallah become best friends with a 13 year old from Dallas, or see a retired criminal defense attorney, just discovering the violin, play in a group with a 13 year old, also just starting out. So I invite you to see for yourself. Apply to our summer workshop, attend a concert by the Apple Hill String Quartet on March 23 in NYC, April 4 in Keene, NH, or April 27 in Peterborough, NH, or buy a summer concert subscription and attend our concert series every Tuesday night. And if you are moved by what we do, I invite you to become one of our partners and support our mission: connection through music that brings about change.