Aspen Music Festival And School

Beginning Strings

After-school violin, viola, and cello instruction for beginning and intermediate string students

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Program Information

The Beginning Strings program is open to students in grades 2-5 who wish to study a string instrument (violin, viola, or cello) through a curriculum that starts with group classes, ensemble playing, and performance opportunities.  The program also includes a series of private lessons for each Beginning Strings student.  These private lessons serve as a chance for students to work on their technique in a one-on-one lesson setting, and we frequently see students make great gains when private lesson work is paired with the classroom experience.

Students in 1st grade are able to apply and will be accepted into the program (if space allows) only upon successful completion of a pre-program interview with a Beginning Strings coordinator and a commitment to significant involvement by the student’s parents.  Middle school students are welcome to participate if they were enrolled in the program last year as a Beginning Strings participant.

Our highly experienced teachers work to help students develop a joy and love for music through string education and performance. This program is a wonderful opportunity for children interested in music to begin playing violin, viola, or cello in a supportive, engaging musical environment.  Parents are urged to support and encourage the students in daily practice.

Based on the financial commitment and the need for program consistency, it is important for all students to commit to an entire school year of classes.


The Beginning Strings program is offered in six schools during the 2018-2019 school year: Aspen Elementary School, Basalt Elementary School, Crystal River Elementary School, Glenwood Springs Elementary School, Riverview School, and Sopris Elementary School.   A maximum of 20 students will be accepted into the program at each school (class minimum is eight students).

Aspen Elementary School

  • Mondays, starting October 8
  • 3:30-5:00pm
  • Required Parent Meeting:  October 8 at 5:00 pm

Basalt Elementary School 

  • Wednesdays, starting October 10
  • 2:00-3:30 pm
  • Required Parent Meeting: October 10 at 3:30 pm

Crystal River Elementary School 

  • Thursdays, starting October 11
  • 3:30-5:00 pm
  • Required Parent Meeting: October 11 at 5 pm

Glenwood Springs Elementary School

  • Tuesdays, starting October 9
  • 3:40-5:10 pm
  • Required Parent Meeting: October 9 at 5:10 pm

Riverview School

  • Wednesdays, starting October 10
  • 2:05-3:35 pm
  • Required Parent Meeting: October 10 at 3:35 pm

Sopris Elementary School

  • Thursdays, starting October 11
  • 3:40-5:10pm
  • Required Parent Meeting: October 11 at 5:10pm


Students can select to play violin, viola, or cello through the Beginning Strings program. Not sure what to play? Pick violin. It's the most affordable and common instrument option. Beginning Strings teachers can assist with the process of finding and sizing an instrument. All students should have an instrument ready for the first day of Beginning Strings class. Students will receive information on where and how to purchase or rent an instrument upon acceptance into the program.

Blue Square, Black Diamond, and Double Black Diamond Levels

Were you involved in Beginning Strings in the past? If you have achieved placement in the Blue Square (intermediate) or Black Diamond (advanced) levels of the Beginning Strings program, you will have your own class specifically for experienced string players. Not sure if you should be in the beginning class or a higher level? All students will be assessed during the first week of class and placed into the appropriate class division.

Chamber Music Program for Double Black Diamond Level and Invited Advanced Students

If you’ve worked hard enough to be in the Double Black Diamond group, we’re excited for you to be involved in the Chamber Music Program this school year! If you’re not quite in Double Black yet, but your teacher thinks you’re ready for this program, you may still be eligible to participate. 

In this early chamber music program designed specifically for you, you’ll work with Roberto Arundale, the AMFS ArtistYear Beginning Strings Fellow, and other high-level strings players to develop ensemble skills, learn extended techniques, and expand your independent musicianship.

The Chamber Music Program is offered in one location this year:

  • Basalt
    • Basalt Elementary School
    • Wednesdays
    • 3:45-5:00 pm (following Beginning Strings class)

Beginning Strings Performances

  • December: Beginning Strings Winter Concert (students only perform in one of the two performances)
    • December 5: Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs 
    • December 6: ACDS Gym on the AMFS Bucksbaum Campus, Aspen
  • March 1: AfterWorks Solo Recital, Harris Hall (select students invited to perform)
  • NEW DATE: May 1: Beginning Strings Showcase, Harris Hall in Aspen

After-School Program Cost: $275

Cost includes 20+ weeks of classes, a starter supply pack (rosin, shoulder rest or rock stop, finger tapes, Essential Elements method book, music stand; students who have been in the Beginning Strings program in the past will receive an intermediate/advanced starter supply pack specific to the needs of the Blue Square/Black Diamond levels), minimum of six private lessons (lessons alone are valued at $240!), two concerts (a third concert is solo recital to which select students will be invited to perform – see below), and snacks during classes and at the final Showcase concert. Students are responsible for the cost of an instrument (either a rented or purchased violin/viola/cello). This program is heavily subsidized by the AMFS and generous donors, and
the actual program cost is more than $700 per student.

Please note that this is a 20+-week program and that students should commit to the entire series of classes. Obviously, some conflicts could arise, but in order for students to learn to play a string instrument, they need to be in class as much as possible.

The AfterWorks Refund Policy is as follows:

Once a student has applied and paid the tuition for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Lead Guitar, or Maroon Bel Canto Children’s Chorus), the following policy will apply to tuition refunds if that student chooses to leave the AfterWorks program:

  • Before first class/rehearsal: full tuition refund
  • Between first and third class/rehearsal: half tuition refund
  • After third class/rehearsal: no refund

Late Registration Fee

Students who complete this Beginning Strings application form after 4pm on Friday, October 5 will be assessed a Late Registration Fee of $50 to cover late application processing and ordering of additional student supplies.


A limited number of tuition scholarships are available to students who demonstrate significant financial need.  Additionally, a limited number of instrument scholarships are available to students who are unable to afford the cost of purchasing or renting a violin/viola/cello.

How to Register

Registration is closed for the 2018-2019 school year.

About AfterWorks

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s AfterWorks program offers after-school, in-school and summer programming, in collaboration with Valley schools, to support music education.  These programs are designed to complement the quality music instruction students receive from schools and private instructors.

To learn more, please contact:

Heather Kendrick
Education and Community Coordinator
970 205 5057

Katie Stookesberry
Education and Community Administrator
970 205 5011

Significant underwriting of the AfterWorks Beginning Strings program is provided through generous contributions from Alpine Bank, Leelee and Bill Harriman, Alan Fletcher and Ron Schiller in memory of Peter Meinig, the Golub Family Foundation, the Meinig Family Foundation, Janet and Tom O’Connor, Anne and Chris Reyes, Caryn and Rudi Scheidt, Jeannie and John Seybold, and Wells Fargo.

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO