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First Year String Students

  •    Frequently Asked Questions


    Renting An Instrument

    1. How do I get an instrument?

    Instruments can be rented from Taylor’s, Music & Arts, Menchey’s, and Zeswitz Music Stores. Flyers for the rentals can be found in your folder.

    1. I have an old instrument, or an instrument at home. Can my child use that?

    If the instrument size fits the child, it may be used. However, please bring it into school before lessons begin so I can verify the size and see if any repairs are needed.

    1. Can I buy an instrument from Craigs List, Buy/Sell/Trades, eBay or Amazon?

    It is not recommend. Instruments purchased from a non-music establishment may not have all the proper materials, be the correct size, or arrive broken. If you do go this route, the instrument may not sound the way you want it to, or require repairs to make it playable. Also, as your child grows they will need different size instruments.


    Materials Needed

    1. Lesson Book-Simply Strings by Denese Odegaard

    Please purchase the book when renting an instrument, books will not be available at the school. Students who are renting a cello or bass through DASD may go to any music store nearby to purchase the book. The cost is usually $7.00-$8.00 and can be bought at the Music and Arts Center in Exton (484-875-0101) or Taylor’s Music in West Chester (610-696-1812.)

    1. Music Stands

    A music stand is necessary for all students to be able to practice at home. Please order a music stand, if you do not have one at home.

    1. Accessories
      1. Rosin: rosin is applied to the bow for it to produce a sound. Rosin comes in either a mini square or rectangular plastic container, and is made of sap and wax.
      2. Finger tapes: tapes on the fingerboard are used for finger placement.
      3. Cleaning cloth: this is a soft cloth to wipe down instrument after playing to keep dust and oils off of the instrument
      4. Shoulder Rest/Sponge (violins and violas only): this is used to place under the chin rest, so the instrument may be held with the correct posture but without irritating the student’s collarbone.
      5. Endpin holder: also known as a “rock stop,” (for cellos and basses only) this is a round rubber disk or a strap used to keep the endpin in place so it does not slide around on the floor.



    1. Can students ride the bus with instruments?

    Yes and no. Violins and violas are allowed on the bus. Smaller cellos may not be allowed if the bus if crowded, please check with your child’s bus driver to see if they have the room for cellos. Basses and full size cellos are not allowed on busses and must be driven to school.

    1. Lionville Carpool Tip

    If your child will be carpool pick-up on lesson days, write a note at the beginning of the year saying “Johnny Smith in Mrs. Perry’s class will be carpool every day C.” Then the office will put you on the carpool list every day C, no need for writing a note each week.



    1. When are lessons held?

    Lessons are held once a cycle for 30 minutes on a specific letter day. The time changes each lesson so the students do not miss the same class each week. Students must make up the class work they miss during lessons.


    1. What happens if they have a test during their lesson time?

    In the morning the students should come see me or have their teacher call/email for a new time. We meet once a cycle so it’s important that students still come for a lesson.


    1. What happens if they forget to come to lessons?

    I will call the classroom or send another student to go get them the first few times. After that it is the responsibility of the student to remember to come. Eventually it will hurt their grade because they are missing important concepts and skills.


    1. When do lessons start, and what do we need to bring?

    Lessons will begin the week of September 25th. The students will receive their lesson times before the first lesson. The teachers will have a copy that is posted in the classroom. I hang the schedule outside my room on the bulletin board by door as well as inside the classroom. In addition, you will receive an email reminder and/or text reminder prior to the lesson.


    **Students do not need to bring their instruments to the first lesson. We will be going over classroom procedures, filling out the practice record, and reading the schedule. At the second lesson, students will need their instruments so we can begin playing them!


    **Instruments that are being delivered to the school will be handed out to students at their first or second lesson. (This depends on the arrival time of the orders.)

    Students should bring their folder, book, and instrument to lessons.


    1. What happens if they forget their instrument or book?

    If a student forgets their instrument, they should still come to the lesson to write down their homework for the week, get any papers I am handing out, and if we are taking a paper/pencil quiz take the quiz.


    If a student forgets their book or folder, they can look off of a neighbor in lessons.


    Concerts and Rehearsals

    1. Will the students be giving a concert this year?

    The beginning string students will give a winter showcase to show parents what skills they have learned in lessons in December/January during the school day. Then the students have an end of the year concert, which is held in May/June during the school day.


    1. What are morning rehearsals?

    Morning rehearsals are a time for all violins, violas, cellos, and bass students in the beginner orchestra to play together to prepare for a concert.


    1. What are the expectations for rehearsals and the concert?

    Students are expected to learn their music, bring their instrument and music to each rehearsal, and consistently follow the school rules for behavior.  All students participating in string program are expected to attend every morning orchestra rehearsal and the concert.  Each rehearsal is important in making a successful concert, and the concerts are like a mid-term and final, they are the culminating activity for our program. Students that miss more than 2 rehearsals in the spring for unexcused absences will not perform in the concert.


    1. What is an excused absence?

    Excused absences are illness (with an office approved note), doctor appointment (with note), and family trip (with note). Illnesses and emergencies happen, please let me know as soon as possible if something happens that way a speaking part/solo/job can be reassigned if needed. If you find transportation to rehearsal to be an issue, carpools can be arranged with another family in the beginner orchestra.



    1. How much should they practice at home?

    Students should practice a minimum of 60 minutes a week in 3rd grade, 80 minutes a week in 4th grade and 100 minutes a week in 5th grade. The time can be broken into 10-15 minute sessions each day –for example a 3rd grader could practice 15 minutes 4 days a week or 10 minutes 6 times a week. The goal is to feel prepared for each lesson, quiz, and concert and the amount of practice time can vary from student to student within the guidelines.


    1. What should they practice?

    Students have a homework sheet that is completed in lessons. It will list the songs/activities they are to do for the next lesson.


    1. How do they practice?

    The students should go through the process below for each song on the homework list:

    1. Read and clap the rhythm of the entire song with rhythm syllables (ta, ti-ti, ti-ka-ti-ka, ta-a, ti ta ti, sh, etc.)
    2. Say the note names in rhythm (Twinkle Twinkle= D, D, A, A, B, B, A___)
    3. Say the finger numbers in rhythm (Twinkle Twinkle= D, D, A, A, 1, 1, A___)
    4. Silent play while saying the note names
    5. Play each line or section separately.
    6. Go back and the line/section if it didn’t sound right
    7. Play the entire song


    1. My child participates in evening activities (sports, dance, scouts, piano lessons, etc.) Will he/she have time for string lessons?

    Many string students are involved in activities outside of school. However, each student needs to have time to practice at home. Fitting a specific time in for strings along with a homework schedule helps students on the path to success! Talk to your child about the added commitment of a string instrument before beginning lessons.




    1. How are students graded?

    There are two parts to the grade: musicianship and performance. Musicianship is being prepared, knowing instrument technique like how to hold the instrument, and general knowledge of notes/rhythms/musical concepts. Performance is playing, demonstrating it’s the “Can you do x, y and z.”


    1. Will there be tests and quizzes?

    Yes, tests and quizzes are announced 1-2 lessons ahead of time to allow students time to study and prepare. Tests and quizzes can be written or playing a song on the instrument.


    Activity Fee

    1. Downingtown Area School District charges a $25 music participation fee for band, orchestra, and chorus students, which covers all three of these performing ensembles. Please note that students enrolled in the free/reduced lunch plan will be eligible to have their fees waived, but must still login to finalize enrollment in the program. To submit payment, please log onto Payforit.net and pay this activity fee online by October 27.
    2. To process the payment for the activity fee follow the steps below
      1. Go to payforit.net
      2. Login to the site like when you are adding money to a lunch account
      3. Select FEES from the menu bar at the top under the Payforit logo
      4. Select MAKE A FEE PAYMENT
      5. It takes you to a new screen where you check the bubble for the correct student
      6. Find LE/UH-ORCHESTRA or LE/UH-STRINGS for $25
      7. Use the green plus sign to add to your cart
      8. On the right hand side it will show up under Transaction details
      9. Click Review and Pay
      10. Process your payment


    Leaving the String Program

    1. If you and your child decide that strings is no longer in his or her best interest please follow these steps:
      1. Send a note (handwritten or emailed) stating that your child is to be removed from the string program
      2. Call the rental company to cancel the account
      3. Return the instrument to the school/retail store
    2. A blank spot for a grade may appear on the report card for the remaining trimesters if the student drops out of the program


    Helpful Hints for Parents

    1. Encourage your child to play-mini concerts are great, having them teach you a song is another great activity for keeping interest
    2. Offer compliments on their playing- this song is my favorite, or this song sounded really good today, I can tell you are working hard
    3. Encourage your child to talk about their lesson-what did you learn today
    4. Help your child to create a routine for practicing