Aspen Music Festival And School

Beginning Strings

2021-2022 school year program info will be posted in August, with registration opening in late August.
The information below is for the 2020-2021 school year.


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

Schools  |  Cost and Scholarship  |  Register

Program Information

The Beginning Strings program is open to elementary aged students who wish to study a string instrument (violin, viola, or cello) through a curriculum that includes group classes (either virtual or in-person) and performance opportunities, plus a series of private or small-group lessons for each student.  When students take advantage of the private lesson and small-group lesson opportunities, paired with the group-learning experience, we frequently see students make great gains.

Our highly experienced teachers work to help students develop a joy and love of 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 strongly urged to support and encourage the students in daily practice.

Open to students in grades 2-5, and through middle school for students with past Beginning Strings experience. 

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.



For the 2020-2021 school year, Beginning Strings will begin in a distance learning model through Winter Break, with hopes of transitioning to our typical, in-person model if and when schools are fully open and community partners are able to utilize school space. We are closely monitoring the directives of local school districts and public health officials. In the meantime, we are able to outline the following Beginning Strings learning models: Distance Learning and In-Person Learning. 

Registration opens September 1, and classes begin the week of October 5, 2020.


  • Distance Learning:

    • Small cohorts of students, assigned by ability and grade level
    • Increased individualized attention due to small cohorts
    • Structured online lesson format with clear objectives and at-home practice guidelines
    • Monthly performance class for all students
    • Six private lessons


  • In-Person Learning:

    • Larger group classes with increased social interaction
    • Experience playing together as an ensemble as well as solo performance opportunities 
    • Structured lesson format with clear objectives and at-home practice guidelines
    • End of year Showcase Concert and February Solo Recital 
    • Six private lessons



  • In a Distance Learning model (October through December): Beginning Strings will run during the after-school class times organized by school. Students with prior Beginning Strings experience will be assigned to small cohorts, assigned by experience/ability and age/grade level, and will meet with their teacher(s) for a 45-minute Zoom class, once per week. Small cohorts will allow for a smaller student to teacher ratio, which will increase the amount of personal attention that each child receives. These in-depth sessions are designed to engage your student in dynamic instruction and will include a warm-up, weekly lesson objective, clear practice strategies, performance time for each student and a music theory supplement to complete during the week. Students will continue to progress through our Ski-Trail designed curriculum (Green Circle, Blue Square, Black Diamond) through online classes. A weekly practice e-newsletter will guide at-home practice. Each student will receive a series of six private lessons over the course of the school year. Students will have the opportunity to perform for one another and socialize in a monthly all-school performance class on Zoom.

  • If/When an In-person Learning model is available (hopefully starting in January): Beginning Strings will run during the after-school class times organized by school. Classes are 90-minutes in length, once per week. Longer class times allow for an after-school snack as well as brief break for socializing and games following the school day. Larger class sizes are designed for more social interaction. Students will progress through the Beginning Strings Ski-Trail curriculum. A weekly practice e-newsletter will guide at-home practice. Each student will receive a series of six private lessons over the course of the school year. In this model, there would an optional Solo Recital in February for advanced students and a culminating end-of-year Showcase Concert in May. 

  • New to Beginning Strings? It is important to start your string learning with a solid foundation, and that is tough to do for young students in a virtual setting. Contact us for options for students who are new to violin, viola, or cello and wish to participate in Beginning Strings this school year:



If and when we can move to an In-Person Learning model, the Beginning Strings program will run as an after-school program at seven schools during the 2020-2021 school year.  During Distance Learning, virtual small-group classes will be scheduled in 45-minute increments within your selected school's class time.

All Roaring Fork Valley students (regardless of what school they attend during the school year) are welcome to participate in Beginning Strings at any participating school.

In-person class days and times are subject to change, based on school reopening schedules, student release times (may be staggered), and classroom availability.

Meet the AfterWorks Teachers

Aspen Community School

  • Thursdays, 3:30-5:00 PM
  • Class starts October 8


Aspen Elementary School

  • Mondays, 3:15-4:45 PM
  • Class starts October 5


Basalt Elementary School

  • Wednesdays, 2:30-4:00 PM
  • Class starts October 7
    • During In-Person learning, class will start immediately after early-release


Crystal River Elementary School 

  • Thursdays, 3:45-5:15 PM
  • Class starts October 8


Glenwood Springs Elementary School

  • Thursdays, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Class starts October 8


Riverview School

  • Wednesdays, 2:30-4:00 PM
  • Class starts October 7
    • During In-Person learning, class will start immediately after early-release


Sopris Elementary School

  • Tuesdays, 4:00-5:30 PM
  • Class starts October 6


Blue Square & Black Diamond Level Students

Were you involved in Beginning Strings in the past? If you have achieved placement in the Blue Square (intermediate) or Black Diamond (advanced) level of the Beginning Strings program, you will be placed in your own class for experienced string players during the already scheduled class times. All students will be assessed during the first week of class and placed into the appropriate class division, whether online in a Distance Learning model or in-person.

Double Black Diamond Level Students

Double Black Diamond students are invited to be involved in the chamber music program this school year! 

In this chamber music program designed specifically for you, you will work in small ensemble groups to develop ensemble skills, learn extended techniques, and expand your independent musicianship with an ensemble coach.

Interested students will be formed into small ensembles in October according to age/grade level and experience/ability level. Small ensemble groups will meet weekly on Zoom (October through December). If/when an in-person model is available, small ensemble groups will meet at Basalt Elementary School on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM, or will schedule their own coaching times and locations based on student and coach availability. 

Chamber music students are expected to practice at least 30 minutes a day.  Chamber music students who would like to also participate in weekly Beginning Strings classes (Blue or Black Diamond level) are expected to be strong leaders and role models in the class and must receive instructor approval for class attendance. 




Students can select to play violin, viola, or cello through the Beginning Strings program.  Follow these links to see each instrument demonstrated by our friends at the Harmony Program:  violin, viola, & cello.

Not sure what to play?  Pick violin... It's the most affordable and common instrument option.   

All students should have an instrument ready for the first day of Beginning Strings class. Students will receive detailed information about securing an instrument through Shar Music when they have been accepted to the Beginning Strings program and will receive access to the AMFS's discounted pricing on instruments.

Learn what size instrument your student needs with this helpful link.

Students have three options to secure an instrument: 

  • Purchase an instrument through a music shop (we use Shar Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan; around $180 for violins, $230 for violas, and $670 for cellos)
  • Rent an instrument from a music shop (again, we use Shar Music; rental rates per month are around $18 for violin, $24 for viola, and $52 for cello)
  • Apply for an instrument scholarship to use an AMFS-owned instrument



Beginning Strings Performances

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 – AfterWorks Solo Recital | Select students invited to participate based on work in private lessons | Harris Concert Hall | 6:00 PM
  • Friday, April 30, 2021 – Beginning Strings Showcase | Harris Concert Hall | 6:30 PM

* Performances will only take place if large-group gatherings are allowed by local health officials.
* Beginning Strings classes end after the April 30 Beginning Strings Showcase.

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), minimum of six private lessons or small group lessons (lessons alone are valued at $240!), at least one performance on the Harris Hall stage (if allowed by public health orders), snacks during classes (if allowed during in-person learning), and dinner (if allowed) before the final Showcase concert. Students are responsible for the cost of an instrument (either a rented or purchased violin/viola/cello); some AMFS-owned scholarship instruments are available. 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. In order for students to learn to play a string instrument, they need to be in class on a consistent basis.  Conflicts and emergencies should be communicated to the Beginning Strings teachers or AMFS Education team as soon as they are known.

The AfterWorks Refund Policy is as follows:
Once a student has registered for an AfterWorks program (Beginning Strings, Lead Guitar, or Maroon Bel Canto Choirs), 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: $25

Students who complete this Beginning Strings application form after 8 AM on Thursday, October 1 will be assessed a Late Registration Fee of $25 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 to use an AMFS-owned instrument while enrolled in Beginning Strings.

Payment Plan

Payment plans for Beginning Strings tuition are available, if necessary, and can be requested during the acceptance process.


How to Register

Registration for Beginning Strings opens on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 and closes on Wednesday, September 30.  Late registrations will be accepted starting Thursday, October 1 and are subject to a $25 Late Registration Fee.


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
Manager of Education and Community Programming
970 205 5057


Significant underwriting of the AfterWorks Beginning Strings program is provided through a generous contribution from Take Note Colorado.

Significant underwriting of all AfterWorks programs is provided through generous contributions from Alpine Bank of Aspen, Leelee and Bill Harriman, the Meinig Family Foundation, and Anne and Chris Reyes. Additional support of AfterWorks and the ArtistYear program is provided through generous contributions from Edith Kallas and Joe Whatley, and Tita and Dan McCarty.


Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO