Saturday Strings Program

Free Neighborhood Strings Training

The Lighthouse Ministries Saturday Strings program is a free strings training program provided to students in the Lighthouse Ministries after-school program in Southeast Canton. The mission of this program is to provide free, high quality lessons and instruments to students, making musical learning a more accessible and equitable experience.

The pilot program ran in the spring of 2022 and 11 students from southeast Canton received strings training in group lessons with area educators. These students, aged 7 to 18, met at the One Center for Leadership in Downtown Canton on Saturdays to take lessons and participate in ensemble playing.

After the success of this pilot, the program has been expanded to span the whole 2022-2023 school year! To support this program and learn more about Lighthouse Ministries, visit

Lighthouse Ministries

Lighthouse Ministries has been serving the youth of Southeast Canton since 1996. They provide a safe place for neighborhood children to learn and grow through after-school programs, ministry clubs, summer activities and acts of service. Today the Lighthouse employs 15 people and has a volunteer base of more than 40 individuals. Programming includes the After School Program with 40 children attending daily, which includes tutoring and homework assistance as well as time for enrichment and recreation. They  also offer the Summer Activities Project, the Summer Enrichment Program and Youth Ministry Clubs for all ages.

Program Instructors

Raylena Mae Bevington

Program Director/Viola Instructor

Ralena Mae Bevington is the Program Director for the Lighthouse Saturday Strings Program and Canton Youth Strings instructor. A native of Canton, Ohio she began playing the violin and taking vocal lessons at the age of seven. Ralena achieved her Bachelor of Music Education Degree (BME) from the University of Mount Union, graduating cum laude. While attending the University of Mount Union, she played the viola in the Alliance Symphony. She is currently the Director of Strings for Canton City Schools where she teaches at McKinley HS (Downtown & Main Campus) and the Arts Academy at Summit. Ralena achieved her Master of Arts in Education as an Intervention Specialist, with a reading endorsement, from Malone University. In 2013, alongside Ms. Betty Smith, Beverly Bevington and S.C. Toe, she became Co-Founder of the 501c3 program En-Rich-Ment. This program gives inner-city children the opportunity to learn any musical instrument at no charge to the family.  In Ralena’s career, she has achieved numerous recognitions including: The Williams Scholarship in Fine Arts, Mu Phi Epsilon Merit Award, The Gerald & Esther Garland Palmer – ‘32 Music Scholarship, Joseph A. & Rhea M. Jeffries Memorial Scholarship, Cecil T. & Marian H. Steward Award, The National Cabinet of Mount Union Women Scholarships, and Top 10 Finalist in the Canton Symphony Music Educator of the Year two years in a row. Aside from teaching music, Ralena’s is an avid equine enthusiast participating in many events including Ranch Riding and Cutting. 

Erika Burns

Violin Instructor

Erika Burns is a violinist, teacher, and Franklin Method Educator dedicated to helping students play with confidence and ease. Erika is a past Emerging Artist Fellow at Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia and can be heard on Fort Smith Symphony’s recent recording of Florence Price’s Symphonies no. 1 and 4. She made her concert debut with the Everett Symphony at the age of fourteen and has been a soloist with the University of Oklahoma Civic Orchestra and Icicle Creek Chamber Orchestra. Erika previously taught applied violin and beginning string methods as a graduate assistant at the University of Oklahoma, and has served on faculty at the Northwest Music Retreat in Port Townsend, WA and at Sponoco String Camp in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma (M.M., 2016 and D.M.A, 2021) and Western Washington University (BM, 2014).

Amy Glick

Violin Instructor

Amy Glick, violinist, performs actively as an orchestral player, chamber musician and soloist in Northeast Ohio.  A member of Akron (OH) Symphony (Acting Concertmaster, Acting Principal, Assistant Principal),  she is also a charter member of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra, where she performs as assistant concertmaster. Ms. Glick has appeared as soloist with the Akron Symphony, Akron Baroque, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra, Tuscarawas Philharmonic, Wooster Symphony and the Akron Lyric Opera Chamber Orchestra.  She has appeared in numerous chamber recitals all over the country, most recently with the Akron-based concert series Urban Troubadour and the newly formed Trio Levain.  A devoted teacher, Ms. Glick has served on the faculties of the Lucy Moses School for Music and Dance (NY, NY), the David Hochstein Memorial Music School (Rochester, NY), the Brevard Music Center (Brevard, NC), and Central Christian Schools (Kidron, OH). Ms. Glick has performed and recorded new music by Christian Hege (NY, NY) and Jack Gallagher (College of Wooster, OH), Gregory Mertl (New Milford, CT) and recently completed an album of works by Jack Ballard (Malone University). Like many musicians during the COVID lockdown of 2020, Ms. Glick quickly acquired video production skills, recording projects for Akron Symphony, Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, the Hudson Library, and the Akron/Summit County Library.   Her primary teachers include Burton Kaplan (Manhattan School of Music) and Camilla Wicks (Eastman School of Music). Ms. Glick currently lives in North Canton, OH, with her husband and four children.

Nicholas Desjardins

Cello Instructor

Nick Desjardins is a third year music education major at Kent State University. At Kent he is studying cello with Si-Yan Li. He plays in pit orchestras in Canton, Alliance, Akron, and Chagrin Falls. He is also part of the Hartville String Quartet and is a Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra Alumni. He owns and directs Hartville Symphonic Chorus, a new contemporary youth orchestra and choir, that produces musical content each month. He has studied under Arleen Scott, Alicia Tremmel, Hannah Lintz, and Kathryn Griesinger. Nick is overly excited to be working with Canton Symphony Organization, impacting its youth members in the way that the organization impacted him.