Students can begin to learn orchestral stringed instruments at pre-school level, where cardboard instruments and ideas from the Suzuki method may be employed.
Catering for students from age five upward, including those of retirement age, the centre offers a wide spectrum of classes, with levels from absolute beginner to advanced.
Students are grouped according to age and ability. In the first year of learning, the introductory aspects of playing the Violin are the main focus. Music-reading skills appropriate to the age of the student are taught. The main book used at beginning level is Fiddle Time Joggers.
As students progress, technique and music-reading skills are taught according to the class level. Once the student has reached an appropriate music-reading level, he/she is encouraged to participate in the String Orchestra and/or the Sinfonia Orchestra. The books used are the Fiddle Time series: Joggers, Runners and Sprinters. Music from these books is supplemented with graded music from exam syllabuses, scales and studies, ensemble music, and music of various styles and genres.
The student requires an appropriately-sized instrument. When the student is a child, the size required changes as he/she grows.
The Violin is a wooden string instrument, the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the string family. The violin has four strings and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings. It can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato), and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow (col legno). Orchestras have more violins than any other instrument.
Pre-school violin classes are available for children aged 4 and over. Students learn some of the basics of violin playing including correct posture, pitch recognition, co-ordination and the development of rhythmic skills.
The viola is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound.
The Cello is much larger than either the Violin or Viola, and the musician who plays it is seated. It is commonly played solo as well as being a key instrument in orchestras and string groups.