Beginner Students – The Parental Role and Orientation Period into our Suzuki Classes

Sycamore Strings Academy wants to carefully help every young child towards a successful entry into the world of music education. The parent’s role is very important in a learning triangle, child – parent – teacher; the parent is being the teacher at home. Every family should consider the level of commitment required in providing this education for their child prior to actual enrollment on the instrument. Families who contact SSA about their interest in enrolling their child in instrumental instruction will therefore be advised to make use of an orientation period prior to enrollment. That way SSA will be able to provide as much help as possible for the success of the student.

An Orientation Period begins with a free of charge section in two components:

  1. Parent & child observing group and individual classes
  2. Parent only attends an Introductory Suzuki Seminar

After that follows a four week introduction course, if enrollment allows. It contains four Hands-On Orientation Classes for parents only and four preparatory Music & Movement Classes for parents & children together. Tuition will be charged. Depending of the amount of interested beginners at each orientation period, the length and concept of the introduction course can be adjusted.

By offering this course to the parent & child, prior to the instruction, the families will get an outline of how lessons are conducted at the Observations of Classes. The parent will get an overview of the Suzuki education philosophy and methodological steps at the Suzuki Seminar. In the Hands-On Orientation Class the parent will receive basic instructions how to play the instrument, get an insight in how to be an at-home teacher, and more. In the Music & Movement Class the parent & child together will begin to work by interacting musically and start to recognize and appreciate the music which will be taught in the instrumental education.

For inquires about the next Orientation Period, please contact the office (info@sycamorestringsacademy.com).



Our goal is to have each instrumental student enrolled in both one individual and one group lesson per week. The group lesson is highly supportive of the individual lesson. Our curriculum is based on each student attending both classes and they are inseparable like “two legs on a body”. It is not uncommon to have different teachers for these classes. Full attendance and participation is equally required in both lessons for a successful progression. – Initially for certain students of school age we prefer to wait with the group class until a placement in age and level can be better determined.

Individual Lessons

Private or individual lessons are scheduled once per week. They may be of 30, 45, or 60 minutes in length, depending on student level and teacher’s discretion. Individual skills and new material are trained and taught as well as note reading and music theory. The individual teacher also reviews already learned material with the purpose of reinforcing and refining technical skills and musical expression.

Group Lessons

Group lessons are offered if enrollment allows and scheduled once per week. They may be 30, 45, or 60 minutes in length. Teachers assign group placing based on students’ abilities and ages. Most groups have ideally between three and fifteen students, although exceptions to this size may occur. Group is extremely important with purpose to reinforce learned skills in the private lesson and vice versa, review, technique, musical expression, note reading, ensemble playing, and as rehearsals towards performances.

Group playing for children from very young age is also a social activity which gives them musical and communal perspectives and is highly motivating. For older ages of students our group class turns to be orchestra and chamber music classes, where the teenage students will further improve their ensemble skills by playing high level string music for orchestra and string quartet. These advanced groups are available for hire to perform at different private and public events. In the recent past, our chamber group has performed at different church orchestra events for nearly 15 years, also as a hired ensemble for graduation performance for composition students at a nearby university.

Missed Lessons

Student missed lessons

Student missing a PRIVATE LESSON for any reason will not be made up, nor will tuition be refunded. However, a student who knows in advance he or she will miss a lesson may pursue the following options:

  1. Trade lesson times with or sell time to another student of the same private teacher, using a copy of the teacher’s complete teaching schedule and student roster.
  2. Let teacher know as far in advance as possible that you declare a certain week as one of your three annual “Student Holidays” for a discount of 50% of tuition on that particular lesson. Student holidays can be taken any week when SSA is in session, school year from fall through next summer. You must give the particular date(s) and the reason when you contact SSA. The reason must be either 1) a special school or 2) family event causing a temporary time conflict and not because of a peak in regular homework or other ongoing activities. After all three student holidays have been used there will be no more holiday discounts available until the next calendar year. No roll-over of unused student holidays is allowed from one year to another. Only one holiday discount can be used per lesson.

If you announce your use of a student holiday prior to an upcoming semester or summer session, we will be able to credit the discount on the upcoming current invoice. If you cancel a lesson within an already paid for quarterly session, the credit will show on the invoice for the following quarter. Contact your teacher or the SSA director as soon as possible if you need to use a holiday discount.

For student missing a GROUP LESSON there is no make up, refund, or bill adjustment. Group lessons are always held as scheduled like any other activity, evening or college class. Always let the teacher know as soon as possible about the reason for an absence from group class. Unexplained absence might undermine the group team-work and could discourage other members of the class. If the teacher can explain to the class about an absent student, it will help the other members of the class to stay motivated and dedicated.

Teacher Cancelled Lessons

In the event that a teacher must cancel a private lesson due to illness or conflicting schedule, or other duties, it will be made up or a credit may be deemed appropriate if the teacher and parent is unable to find time for a make-up lesson. It is the sole discretion of the teacher and SSA director whether or not to make up the lesson or to issue a credit. This will be agreed upon by both the teacher and the parent as the situation occurs. If a teacher can not attend to a longer period of lessons, SSA will seek to hire a substitute teacher or teachers to avoid as little scheduling disruption as possible.

Student Behavior and Contract

Every parent and child enrolled at Sycamore Strings Academy will be required to sign a Behavior Contract. The guidelines within this contract include:

Students will be expected to:

  1. Respect others, keeping hands to oneself and waiting one’s turn
  2. Pay attention to the teacher
  3. Keep voice and instrument quiet while the teacher is instructing or when it is not the child’s turn
  4. Use of bathroom during break times and only for its intended use
  5. Respect the property of all teaching and performance facilities
  6. Clean up after oneself and remain in designated areas only. For orchestra/chamber groups, all students are expected to help set up and take down chairs and music stands before and after class.
  7. Refrain from eating, drinking or chewing gum during lessons or performances

Parents will be expected to:

  1. Support and reinforce the above expectations and cooperate with all staff members
  2. Be responsible for the child’s behavior and all accompanying siblings
  3. Refrain from talking during the lesson time
  4. Refrain from eating or drinking during lessons of performances
  5. Keep cell phones and pagers turned off during lessons or performances

Each student will be given two warnings before being removed from a class. Repeat offenders may be asked to leave the program following their second written notice regarding a behavior infraction from Sycamore Strings Academy.

Lesson Etiquette

  • Arrive about five minutes early for your individual and group lessons.
  • Knocking on the door is NOT necessary.
  • Be prepared for a learning situation.
  • Be sure the student has had time for a snack and a drink, clean hands and face, and bathroom opportunities.
  • Please wait just outside the classroom or the area of teaching until your teacher invites you to begin the lesson.
  • Always avoid bringing siblings to the lesson.
  • In the lesson the parent should be focused on the student/teacher interaction and instruction.
  • If you temporarily have to bring a sibling with you, please provide quiet activities for him/her and keep noise and distractions to a minimum.
  • Food and drink are not permitted inside any teaching or performing facility.
  • We are guests at all facilities. Please show respect at all sites for teachers, staff, school, church and personal property.

Scheduling Lessons

Individual Lessons

Every child’s success in learning to play an instrument is important to both the Academy as well as to each parent. Even if every effort will be made to honor parents’ requests for an individual lesson time, days and times will always be limited with our available teachers. Some adjustment of your regular personal schedule might be necessary to manage scheduling your child. Since most children are of school age, most lessons will be offered after school hours. For those whose daily schedules allow, some morning and early afternoon lessons are available, as well as Saturdays. Regular lessons are rarely held on Sundays.

Group – Orchestra Classes

As part of the curriculum all students will be placed in a group class in addition to the individual lesson. Teachers and director determine the placement of students in respective rank of group class, primarily by level of playing and secondarily by age and maturity. Due to students’ different rate of progression, adjustment to group placement may be made within the school term to the benefit of the child’s development. These adjustments are made per the direction of the teacher.

Chamber and Junior Orchestra classes are held periodically at different times during the year by combining existing group classes and other students as well. Audition is required for orchestra students.

Sycamore Chamber Orchestra and Sycamore Junior Chamber Orchestra classes meet weekly on Wednesdays. Auditions are required for participation.

Chamber Music Class

Advanced SSA students will acquire right of entry to the chamber music class per invitation. The class is available for not just enrolled SSA students but for other students as well. Audition is required for all chamber music students.

Volunteer Positions

SSA parents can participate at some staff positions for a discount of tuition. – All families are expected to volunteer for no extra discount at events like performances and workshops.

Equity of Treatment, Non-Discrimination

Sycamore Strings Academy complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Sycamore Strings Academy is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race, sex, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or Vietnam-era veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.