So many questions, so little time…

happygirlSchool is back in session and it’s time to start thinking about extracurricular options. As you consider whether to enroll in our afterschool class (currently available at Sarah Smith and Jackson elementaries), below I have compiled some general information and answers to common questions.

When/where is the class held?
At the Jackson Main Campus, classes are on Mondays – Beginners from 2:45 to 3:45 and Intermediate from 3:50-4:50. At Sarah Smith Primary Campus, classes are on Tuesdays – Beginners from 2:45 to 3:45 and Intermediate from 3:50-4:50. Students will take the bus from the Intermediate campus and will be checked in through the afterschool program

What will my child need for the class?
We provide all class materials, method books, and other necessary supporting materials. The only thing you will need to provide is the instrument outfit (instrument, bow, case, and rosin). And of course the student. 🙂

Which instrument should they choose?
First and foremost, if your child has a stated preference, it’s best to try and accommodate it if you can. If they aren’t sure, I would recommend making a visit to one of the instrument rental stores (see recommendations below). Taking into consideration their preferences as well as physical size and ability, they are usually great about working with you and your child to figure out which instrument is best for them.

Where can I find an instrument to rent?
Although there are several possible options, I have found that one is the most reasonable and convenient: Atlanta Violins. I have been impressed with their level of service, quality of instruments, and overall responsiveness. Everyone on staff is either a string teacher, experienced string musician, or has years of experience in instrument repair and maintenance. In my experience they are slightly less expensive than others, and the instruments are better quality. They are running a back to school special through September for all beginning outfits.

Which of the two KidStrings classes is best for my child?
The beginner KidStrings class is for those who have no musical experience or training on an instrument. While it certainly helps to have learned piano or had lessons on a non-string instrument, the Beginning KidStrings class is still perfect for them.

For those who are already comfortable with their instrument and reading simple music (and who have had at least a year of playing experience), I recommend the Intermediate KidStrings class. Here students play together as a group from the beginning, and learn a variety of string orchestra pieces.

Who teaches the class?
For the Beginning KidStrings class, there is one teacher for each instrument group (for the first half of the semester). Students will have the chance to get to know them well, and parents are welcome and encouraged to consider hiring them to teach privately in addition to the KidStrings group classes. It’s quite likely that as a violist myself, I will happily teach the violas! For the Intermediate KidStrings class, one to two teachers will conduct the class as a string orchestra group.

I’m finalizing my staff at the moment, but individual instrument teachers as well as full string class teachers are energetic, passionate about teaching, and most importantly well trained in their craft.

We are excited to work with you and your child to spark excitement and passion for string music. The rewards are well worth the discipline and hard work, and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish this year!

Ready to register now? Great! Just click below to be taken to the Registration Page:

Questions? Call us at 770-367-7521 or email

Summer lessons


image courtesy of

School’s out and I’m sure your kids are enjoying their summer…hiking, biking, swimming, and most importantly NO homework!

But instead, you may be equally worried about your childrens’ “summer slide,” the term parents and teachers give to the loss of valuable momentum of learning they created during the school year.

What’s the solution, you’re wondering? There is one. And it has everything to do with beautiful, wonderful music!

At the top of the list is what’s in it for you? Of course you’re a busy parent. So, why not  have the music teacher come to your home for lessons. Your child can practice and learn in a comfortable, familiar environment, and you don’t have to lug them to yet another place. in the 100-degree heat!

Most likely your child spent the entire school year engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities. So it’s no wonder they probably miss some of that over the summer. Thankfully, music provides a perfect answer to this problem, because it is both fun and challenging, and keeps kids engaged. Just because school stops doesn’t mean your lessons have to, and continuing to work on music over the summer gives kids goals to work toward, building self-reliance and initiative. And with the right music teacher, it can be a total blast!

Even though school is out, you want to keep your kid’s brain functioning on a high level during the break, and music is the perfect way to do that. There is tons of research out there that makes a definite connection between playing a musical instrument and learning. Well, it’s true! Music improves literacy and quantitative reasoning, and even provides valuable social and emotional benefits too. Music helps keep these benefits from lapsing during summer.

So that’s three good reasons to take music lessons over the summer. What are you waiting for? Give us a call to schedule lessons today!

Check out our new logo

BSlogo So proud to introduce you to our new logo! I’m ever grateful to a dear friend and colleague, Blake Stewart, for his clean and fun design. Having been lucky to have had a career in both music and marketing, I have worked with some amazing designers and knew years ago Blake would be the perfect person for the task. To see it all come full circle is an amazing feeling!  Drop a line and let us know where you see it turn up!

To be or not to be…Yo-Yo Ma

It was so exciting to welcome our first KidStrings students this week at Jackson and Sarah Smith Elementary!

On Monday, I got started with some great kids at Jackson. On a hunch that the students didn’t yet have their instruments (due to Atlanta’s crazy winter weather last weekend it was hard to do much of anything), I made sure to bring my viola. I was glad I did, because it gave me the chance to talk about all sorts of interesting stuff up close and personal. (Did you know that the strings used on string instruments many years ago were called “gut” strings, short for “catgut”? And did you know that “catgut” strings were actually made from…sheep guts?)

We then moved on to the parts of the instrument and learned the difference between each of the four main string instruments. It was obvious to tell between the violin and cello, and of course the string bass. But what about the violin and viola?  The obvious answer is, not much at this level because the viola is only slightly larger than the violin. Less obviously, though, they learned the viola has one string a fifth lower than the violin, which allows it to play in a lower range. We then learned that the cello has the same strings as the viola but one octave lower, and the bass has the same strings as the violin…but in the opposite order, thus tuned to fourths, not fifths as with the others. Bet you didn’t know that…

Next we talked about how to care for their instruments. Golden rule of string playing? Well, there are two. One, never ever touch the hair on the bow. And two, never, ever leave your instrument. Always take it with you if you are out. If left in the car, it’s susceptible to heat, cold, and humidity, and it can get permanently damaged. Not to mention stolen! On that note, did you ever hear the story of the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who left his prized cello in the trunk of a New York taxi? For your reading pleasure, here is the story, as told by The New York Times. Even now, when you get into a cab in New York, you just might hear the voice of Yo-Yo Ma, advising you to make sure you retrieve all your belongings!

And next week, the fun begins!

Photo credit: Stephen Danelian


Which instrument should I play?

We often are asked how to go about choosing the best instrument for your child. It’s a great question, and of course we have an answer! Dr. Robert Cutietta, Dean at the USC Thornton School of Music (and my former boss!), actually does the best job of it here:

Helping Your Child Choose the Right Instrument

Classes begin in just over two weeks at Sarah Smith and Jackson, and we recommend the following two companies to get you set up with a great string instrument (and a great deal too!):

Atlanta Violins
Ken Stanton Music

Stay tuned for the Parent Meeting date TBA. You’ll get more information on the classes offered, what students will learn this semester, and you’ll meet our dedicated staff!