Dr. LaSaundra Booth

Consulting Associate

Dr. Booth is an accomplished arts leader and teaching artist. She is founder and executive director of the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra (WFCYO), a not-for-profit organization that provides expert orchestral instruction and free instruments to youth living in rural and under-resourced communities. Under her leadership, WFCYO grew from 3 students to over 350 within three years.

Dr. Booth is also a lecturer in music education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this role, she prepares the next generation of educators to lead culturally inclusive arts education programs.  She serves on the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Council for Orchestra Education, where she is heavily involved in implementing diversity initiatives for K-12 string orchestra classrooms. LaSaundra is an inventor who received a patent for a music instruction apparatus for string instruments. She is an alumni of Sphinx LEAD (Leaders in Excellence, Arts & Diversity), a 2-year professional empowerment program designed to evolve the landscape of arts leadership.

What drew you to the arts? 

My mother was one of the best singers in our church choir. When I was younger, my family discovered that I could sing and I have been leading songs ever since.  My elementary school started a string orchestra program during my 4th grade year.  On the first day of class, I was late. When I arrived, all students had chosen their instruments. My teacher asked me what I wanted to play. The only instrument that I knew to say was a violin. “I’m sorry, LaSaundra. All the violins have been taken, “ my teacher said.  “However, I have this beautiful cello over her for you, “ she said.  I looked at my teacher and then I stared at the cello.  “How am I supposed to fit that under my chin!” I exclaimed.  My teacher chuckled and she said, “No LaSaundra. The cello is played sitting down like this…”  When I saw that all the violins and violas were standing and I got to sit down in a chair, I said, “I’ll keep the cello.” I performed all throughout elementary, middle, and high school. In high school I went on tour to Sydney, Australia and got my first job as a sectional cellist with the Raleigh Symphony. In college I played one season with the Durham Symphony, Greensboro Philharmonia, and the Duke Symphony. I founded Integrity Strings, a diverse string quartet, in 2005.  We’ve been playing together ever since!

What drew you to Arts Administration? 

I was drawn to Arts Administration in response to my public school music position being eliminated due to budget cuts. The cutting of my orchestra program mean that the youth in my community would no longer have access to participate in orchestra. Parents could not afford private lessons and students did not have instruments outside of the public school music program. Therefore, I took my savings and purchased free instruments for youth in the community.  I started the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra in 2014. Our mission is to provide expert orchestral instruction and access to string instruments for K-12 youth living in rural and under resourced communities.

What is your focus within Arts Administration? 

My focus is on providing high quality arts education programs and access to instruments for K-12 youth in rural and under-resourced communities.  

How do you incorporate EDIA into your work life? 

I have lived experience when it comes to EDIA. EDIA is the pillar of the work I do in the community and in my everyday life, especially when it comes to access for K-12 youth

What do you do in your spare time? 

In my spare time I cook, listen to audible, and watch Marvel movies.  I also love conducting youth orchestras all-across the country.

Arts, culture and entertainment is our business.

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