Levels and Classes
There is one introductory class for brand new students who wish to begin a musical instrument (but the class is often split in half when numbers are large). There are 4 regular levels of strings, grouped by experience, not age or grade.
It is recommended that students be a minimum of 9 yrs old by the time the semester starts.
8 yr old students may be admitted upon recommendation.
String classes can hold unlimited students. However, the introductory classes may be split into smaller groups if the classes are very large, in order to give the beginning students as much individual attention as possible.
For students who want to begin a brand new string instrument, there is an introductory class. Intro Strings is for students 9+. (8 yr old students may be admitted upon recommendation.) String instruments come in sizes, so it's important to get the correct size instrument for each beginning student. All beginning students are required to attend the Musical Instrument Demo before the semester starts. Check the NEWS page for date and time.
String classes are for students (8) 9-18. The 4 levels are: 1-elementary, 2-middle, 3-intermediate, 4-advanced. Private lessons are always encouraged at any level, but not required for any level of strings, except level 4. Students are leveled by experience, not by age or grade. In order to enroll in any level of strings, a returning student must pass the testup for a level, or, in the case of new transfer students, audition for a level of strings.
Harp students may be admitted after an audition. A mid- to late-intermediate level of proficiency on harp is required for participation in the orchestra. FAYM does not have a beginning class for new harp students.
Testups and Auditions
New transfer students who already know how to play an instrument need to audition in order to be placed in the level that best fits their previous experience. Students should be prepared to show what music, scales, or books were previously studied.
Returning students always register for the same level they attended the previous semester. Students are never required to testup until ready, and can stay in their current level of strings as long as they are comfortable. When ready for a testup, students will show that they have mastered all material from their syllabus, including finger patterns, scales/arpeggios, rhythms, good tone and intonation, reading, shifting, bowings, or anything else that was learned.
Daily practice is required. On average, introductory students may only need 10-15 minutes of practice each day. Intermediate students may need 30 minutes of practice each day, and advanced students may need 45 minutes of practice each day. The amount of practice will vary, depending on age, class, and level of advancement.
All students in strings classes are required to participate in the final semester concert. Each participating family will contribute to the cost of renting an auditorium (usually around $10-12). The combined dress rehearsals immediately before the concert are also required attendance.
Required Books and Materials
Intro Strings: students must provide their own musical instrument, music stand, class book (New Directions for Strings Book 1), and pencil. A workbook will be handed out in class ($5). A metronome and tuner are required for practice. A SmartMusic account is required ($9).
Strings 1: students must provide their own musical instrument, music stand, class book (New Directions for Strings Book 1), and pencil. A workbook will be handed out in class ($5). A metronome and tuner are required for practice. A SmartMusic account is required ($9).
Strings 2: students must provide their own musical instrument, music stand, class book (New Directions for Strings Book 2), and pencil. A metronome and tuner are required for practice. A SmartMusic account is required ($9).
Strings 3: students must provide their own musical instrument, music stand, class book (Book TBA), and pencil. A metronome and tuner are required for practice. A SmartMusic account is required ($9).
Strings 4: This is the only level of strings that requires a private teacher. Students must provide their own musical instrument, music stand, class book (Book TBA), and pencil. A metronome and tuner are required for practice. A SmartMusic account is required ($9).
Other Instrument-Specific Things to Get
The standard care kits that are sold at music stores typically contain a lot of items that you don't need. It's cheaper and better to get just what you need:
Violin and Viola: hanky or cleaning cloth, shoulder rest, rosin
Cello: hanky or cleaning cloth, seat strap (or rock stop), rosin
Bass: hanky or cleaning cloth, rosin, rock stop, bow quiver is optional but convenient
Where to Get Instruments and Supplies
Online Sources for books include: SheetMusicPlus.com, Amazon, and J.W.Pepper.
Strings students need to provide their own instrument to play in any of the ensembles. Instruments can be purchased, either new or used, or may be rented. Most of the local music stores have very reasonable prices when renting an instrument, and even offer special pricing for the first few months.
Where to get stringed instruments: William Mason's Violin Shoppe, KBI, Music and Arts, etc. Please do NOT go to Guitar Center for a stringed instrument. We have had several problems in the past with Guitar Center selling the WRONG instrument to families. Go to Guitar Center if you want a guitar, but not if you want a violin, viola, cello, or bass. You want to go to a store that specializes in school instrument rentals and sales.
String students need to get the correct size instrument - the music store can help you with this. Most beginning string students will NOT need a full-size instrument, so please don't automatically give your 8-year-old your grandfather's violin from the attic! Get a professional opinion from either a teacher or the music store of what size instrument you need.
Students who need a fractional size instrument are encouraged to rent, not buy. Most music stores will let you trade in your smaller instrument for a larger one as the student grows. Buying is usually only recommended when a student needs a full-size instrument.
*FAYM owns a FEW instruments (larger or harder to find instruments like viola or bass) that may be available for students to play. Quantities are very limited. The rental fee for a FAYM instrument is $15 per month. Please email FAYMdirector@gmail.com for availability.
WARNING: Please do NOT order a colored string instrument online. These instruments are made very poorly! While students are attracted to the pretty colors, the instruments do not play well, do not stay in tune, have a poor tone, and usually need quite a bit of adjusting and maintenance to function properly. The money you save purchasing these inexpensive instruments will be spent getting these instruments up to par. This is a classic example of "you get what you pay for." Your best bet is to either rent from the local music stores or buy a reputable brand name instrument, either new or used. The student will enjoy playing and progress better on an instrument that is in good working order. Please don't be afraid to ask if you need an opinion on an instrument that you are considering purchasing.