The String Academy of Southern MN

Exceptional Faculty. Outstanding Students.

FAQ

What do I wear to a Recital?
We don’t have a performance dress code. Wear something nice, comfortable and that you can move your arms in. At any given recital, we have performers wearing everything from khaki pants and polos to dress pants/shirts or dresses.

How old do I have to be to start playing an instrument?
Different instruments may have different guidelines for starting. Strings, piano and harp can start children 4 years old and older. If you would like to learn an instrument and are unsure, contact us and we can offer some additional guidance.

I’m an adult, is there an age limit to take lessons?
No age limit. Most of us have adults in our studios at any given time. If you have always wanted to try an instrument or refine your vocal skills, why not now?

Do I have to practice?
We get it. You have school or a job, sports, music lessons, and somewhere in there you need to practice your instruments. Learning something new does take practice. We know your time is valuable. Let us help you learn to practice efficiently, so you make the most of your time practicing with a purpose.

What kind of progress can I expect to make?
Much depends on the student, and how they practice. Students who play through their music once or twice and label that practice, typically make slow progress. They usually make corrections as they go, but then continue on in the music, and the mistake is still there the next day when the play through the song – stop at the same part – fix it – and go forward. This cycle repeats because the student is only practicing correcting mistakes, and not addressing the actual problem so it doesn’t happen next time. We can help guide you though fun and encouraging ways to practice at your best.

Are there different sizes of instruments?
It depends on which instrument you would like to play. Small or fractional sized instruments are available for children of all ages and sizes to learn on. They even make miniature string basses for children as young as age 5. We can help size an instrument, or you can go to a music store and they can help size you.

Rent or purchase…?
Before you buy something on Ebay, if you are starting out a new instrument, our best advice is to rent one. We may decide that you need a different size, or perhaps you have been playing awhile and have outgrown your starter instrument. After a while, you begin to hear the individuality between instruments, and maybe you would prefer a different sound.

Help! I broke a string!
This happens. Sometimes the strings just break because they are old or flawed, and sometimes they break while you are tuning the instrument. If you are renting an instrument from the public schools or a local shop, check with them to see if they prefer a string brand for their instruments. You can order replacement strings online or see if your local music store has what you need in stock. String prices vary significantly, so shop around. Some online retailers offer no shipping fees for strings. Your teacher may have an extra string you can borrow until you can get a replacement. If you haven’t put on a string, it may be a good idea to have you walk us through the first one. If you are an upper strings player, there are two types of ‘ends’ – ball and loop. One is for fine tuners and the other isn’t. Make sure you either take the broken string into the retailer or note the difference when you are making your purchase.

Do I have to play in the recital? I get so nervous.
Everyone gets nervous to some degree when they perform. If you haven’t attended a recital, talk to your studio teacher about watching the first recital. The important part of all of this is that you have the space to share the music you have worked so hard on with people around you. In a sense, we perform every night for our families and pets when we practice.

Where do I buy music?
You can purchase sheet music in a variety of ways. You can instantly download/print from some online retailers, and/or you can buy a paper copy of the music at your local retailer or online and have it shipped. Music is available most times in many editions. Check with your studio teacher to see if there is a particular edition you should get.

I don’t want to spend a ton of money on music…
Many of us at the String Academy use method books and have spare copies or perhaps you know someone who has graduated from high school or no longer plays – and you can borrow their books for a while. Occasionally, people bring in used books for us to hand out to kids – or use as studio copies. So, there are options.

Do I need to go to lessons weekly?
In short… yes. We have tried lessons every other week, and find that students benefit the most from weekly instruction. Especially younger students. They need almost constant attention as they begin to develop posture and technique with their instruments. Better to start with a solid foundation, then to try to correct something down the road. With small children, our studio teachers may offer video chat or skype partway through the week – just as a ‘check in’ and see how things are going. We can watch the child play, check the posture and holds, and even offer some encouragement. Check with your studio teacher to see if this is something you could benefit from.

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