Nina Stern is passionate about musical education and outreach to the community. She is the Artistic Director of “S’Cool Sounds” – a program founded in New York City in 2001 with the mission of bringing the joy of making music to children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. In extended residencies, teaching artists – using recorders and percussion - help children to develop the hands-on skills of playing, improvising, and reading music. For this work, Nina Stern was awarded an Endicott Fellowship in 2003 and was honored in 2005 with the “Early Music Brings History Alive” Award, bestowed by Early Music America.  Nina has consulted for Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute and for Midori and Friends, helping them to develop their recorder curriculum. She is the author of two books “Recorders Without Borders” intended for use in the school classroom and has taught workshops for school children and professional development workshops for classroom and music teachers throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Africa.


S'Cool Sounds

S'Cool Sounds is an innovative, cross-cultural music program which provides students with life long advantages for learning, growing, and living by teaching them to play a musical instrument in an ensemble setting. Under the leadership of Nina Stern, Artistic Director and founder, students in the S'Cool Sounds program learn recorder and percussion from master performer-teachers in the fields of historical and world music.

In S’Cool Sounds classes all students are engaged participants at all times, creating and performing music and building a musical ensemble together. Central to the S'Cool Sounds message is an emphasis on community and global awareness.  Groups learn a variety of music from Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe and explore common themes and principles connecting music from widely diverse traditions and time periods.

S'Cool Sounds has established programs in Kenya and Burundi which seek to provide an introduction to Western music traditions and literacy to children and their teachers in some of the poorest communities of East Africa. Children are taught instrumental music playing (based on Nina's “Recorders Without Borders” method) and fundamentals of Western music through the Montessori method. The program provides instruments (recorders and percussion instruments) as well as music books and related supplies. In turn, the young musicians of Burundi and Kenya have shared their own extraordinarily rich musical tradition with U.S. and European partners who seek to make these musical treasures available to school children at home.  For more information about S'Cool Sounds, please visit


First established in June of 2011, the S'Cool Sounds project in Kenya establishes music programs in schools in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. The program is currently in residence in three schools in Kibera: FAFU (Facing the Future School), The Shining Hope School, and Slumcare. S'Cool Sounds Artistic Director, Nina Stern travels to Kibera to work with the school children and to train local school staff members to teach music to students within their own school. S'Cool Sounds partners with Cross Cultural Thresholds (Carter Via, Executive Director) and the program is centered at FAFU, under the leadership of its Principal and Founder, Simeon Ajigo.



In February of 2013 Nina Stern first traveled - with an international team of musicians and educators, organized by Wendy Steiner - to Kigutu, Burundi. Partnering with an extraordinary organization, Village Health Works (Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Founder and CEO), they established a program in Western music for the community children and their teachers. An exceptional youth program for Burundian traditional music was already thriving at VHW; the new project supplements that program with an introduction to Western music and literacy while lending support to VHW's ambitious musical initiatives.




"To Feed the Spirit"  

A video about VHW's music program and the recent exchange with Western virtuoso musicians, launched in February 2013. Camera and editing by Joshua Frank. Produced by Wendy Steiner.



Recorders Without Borders

In February of 2008 Nina Stern published "Recorders Without Borders" a book of twelve original compositions for recorders and percussion in the styles of traditional music from around the world - intended for use in the school classroom. Volume II, along with its accompanying CD, was published in 2009.

In June of 2010 Nina brought her "Recorders Without Borders" program to students at the Drug Fighters School in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The program continues today in Kibera at the FAFU and Shining Hope Schools and Nina travels there once or twice a year to work with the children and their teachers. 

To order "Recorders Without Borders" from Sweet Pipes, please click on the icons below. 

Recorders Without Borders, Volume I:  Nina Stern's innovative book for beginning recorder players and percussion is published by Sweet Pipes.  The book contains 12 original compositions in the styles of traditional music from around the world.

Recorders Without Borders, Volume II:  Volume II in the Recorders Without Borders series includes 13 traditional tunes from around the world arranged for recorders and percussion. This volume comes with a play-along CD featuring Nina Stern on recorders and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

                                        Recorders Without Borders, Volume I

                                        Recorders Without Borders, Volume I

                                        Recorders Without Borders, Volume II

                                        Recorders Without Borders, Volume II