published Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

GPS violinist sells used books to buy a new instrument

Hope Newberry plays violin during summer music camp at Girls Preparatory School.
Hope Newberry plays violin during summer music camp at Girls Preparatory School.
Photo by John Rawlston.

When Hope Newberry, 12, picked up a violin, she wasn’t sure she would ever amount to much as a musician.

“I was thinking that it was very hard and that I would never be as good as I wanted to be, but I kept trying,” she said.

After two years of study at Girls Preparatory School, however, Hope has come a long way. When she enters eighth grade in the fall, she will perform in her school’s advanced orchestra and enter her second year with the GPS/McCallie Honors Orchestra.

Hope has also participated in two years of the regional junior musical clinic. Her sixth-grade year, she was a third-chair second violinist in the beginning orchestra. Last year, she served as principal first-chair second violinist in the advanced orchestra.

GPS orchestra director Mary Baxter said she is consistently impressed with Hope’s diligence and ability.

“Hope is an amazing child,” Baxter said. “She was in [GPS’] advanced class at the Music Week of Fun playing alongside kids who have played 10 years.


After playing violin for two years, Hope Newberry was made the principal second violinist of the Lower East Tennessee Junior Clinic’s advanced orchestra. She performs with the honors orchestra at Girls Preparatory School and received a scholarship this summer for lessons from Lee University music professor Sarah Ringer.


  • Age: 12.
  • School: Rising eighth-grader at Girls Preparatory School.
  • Favorite subject: History.
  • Musical idol: Mary Baxter, orchestra director at GPS.
  • Favorite movies: “National Treasure.”
  • Favorite book: “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan.


Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in “Talent Show,” which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at or call him at 423-757-6205.

“She has a very sweet, sweet sound and this incredible drive. She’s a very quiet but unusually motivated young woman.”

That motivation has inspired Hope to help fund her musical education.

Hope said she realized two years ago that she would need a larger instrument than the one she currently performs with. To that end, she negotiated with the owner of the Mountain Market on Lookout Mountain for space to sell used books she acquired through yard sales, donations and at used book stores.

Hope said she hopes to use the money she has acquired from the sale of hundreds of books to pay for a full-size violin as well as a new laptop she’ll need for school.

Hope has been unable to sell her books at the market since it closed due to damage caused by storms in April. While she is unsure how much money she has saved so far, she said she is confident she is halfway to her goal.

Hope became interested in classical music through trips she made with her father, William Newberry, to hear the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

Although it befuddled her early on, Hope said she quickly fell completely in love with the violin.

“I loved the sound, and I loved what the violin could do, the shape of it — everything,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful instrument, and it made such beautiful music.”

Lesa Newberry performed on the flute throughout middle school and high school. She said her daughter’s involvement in music has helped her gain self-confidence, which is important for someone her age.

“I think she knew at that point that she’d finally found something she truly loved and could grow at and become even better at,” Newberry said. “I know when children hit middle school, things become more difficult ... and music has helped her be more able to deal with these things.

“It’s like a release.”

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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