Saint Mary of the Angels School

Thanks for visiting the SMA school program page! Learning to play the violin from a young age is such an amazing experience for kids. It’s a journey of confidence and self-discovery, and the developmental impact that it has—neurologically, emotionally, and socially—is really quite unique and powerful. It’s our goal to make that experience a really fun and engaging one for the students and something doable for you as parents. Below is a summary of all the things most parents want to know:

The Reasons
Brain Development – Because it’s an activity that unifies all three major sensory pathways (sight, hearing, touch), learning to play a musical instrument boosts a child’s neural development exponentially. Unlike any other activity we know of in fact.  Several studies show a long-term increase in spatial-temporal IQ by 46% in children that play an instrument. Spatial-Temporal IQ is one reflection of the capacity a child has to compute and reason using knowledge structures that are at the foundation of other school subjects like math and science. So learning to play a musical instrument doesn’t just impact musical ability, it impacts a whole lot more.

Social & Emotional Maturity – Studies also show a profound impact on verbal communication skills and emotional development—speech, language learning, memory, attention, and even the ability to convey emotions —all greatly improve in students that are learning to play an instrument.

More Impact in Early Years – The earlier you begin learning to play a musical instrument the better since 95% of a person’s permanent life-time neural connections are made by age 12. The younger the age, the more rapidly these connections are being made.  Plus, learning the violin when young has a huge impact on physical and behavioral development as it teaches finger dexterity, balance, and great hand-eye coordination skills.  It also has a huge impact on expanding things that parents are already eager to see their children develop asap like focus, concentration, and the ability to do things more independently and responsibly.  So the younger the better.  Waiting until they’re older or more mature is putting the cart before the horse so to speak!

Making Good Citizens – Music Kids lessons are about far more than teaching technique, growing brains, and making kids happy (though we do all of that too!). By teaching them how to create a beautiful tone and play beautiful melodies on their instrument, we teach them something that stays with them their entire life—the experience of beauty. Playing an instrument is more than an academic study; it’s an expression of the human spirit. This kind of comprehensive education is important for the flourishing of society itself.

To quote Dr. Shininchi Suzuki (founder of the Suzuki Method of instruction): “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart… Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

The Classes
Duration – The program is a school year long program consisting of 30 class weeks of instruction. (When school’s on holiday break we don’t have classes scheduled either).

Frequency – Classes are held once per week for 30 minutes.  Classes are an integrated part of the school day for PreK through 5th grade and after school for 6th-8th grade students.

Format – The classes are individualized and very hands on, which is the only way to learn an instrument. They’re conducted in “pods” of a couple of kids together. After a decade of working with hundreds of students, we’ve found that this format is way more effective than when the kids are isolated on their own. It’s more fun for them, for one, and more motivational as it allows us to leverage the tool box of peer to peer learning techniques.

The Instrument
It’s Included – The program includes the use of a violin year round, so you don’t have to go rent one somewhere else. Each child gets an instrument sized perfectly for them and when they need the next size up (which usually is the case once per school year), we swap them out for a bigger one. We also cover any accidental damage like bows or strings breaking.  Continued use of the violin over the summer is free for students continuing on in the program the following year.

Why the Violin? – The violin is the ideal instrument to start on, especially for young kids, because it’s proportionate in size to the child. It’s physically easier for them (as compared to a larger instrument like the guitar or piano) and less daunting. But even for older kids, it’s the best starting instrument because it’s the best way to train their ear and their internal grasp of melodic progression since they control which pitch the instrument makes (no frets or keys that more automatically make the pitch for them).

The Curriculum
Fun, Easy, & Doable – We use reward charts to boost student motivation and carefully crafted homework assignments, all designed for busy students and parents. We also provide step-by-step demonstration videos, making things doable for students and parents with no prior musical experience. In addition, we maintain robust teacher communication and parent update reports to keep parents in the know. Homework for a first year student is very manageable: about 10-15 min/day, 2 days/wk.  For PreK and K age students, the majority of their learning happens in the classroom in the first year.  At home practice isn’t required.

Our Approach – We use the Suzuki Method of instruction as the core of our curriculum. It’s proven to be one of the most effective ways of getting young kids to learn an instrument because it focuses on the learning strengths of the child, using imitation, repetition, and imagination. So the classes are always engaging and fun for the kids while being super effective.

Recitals – The program also includes performance opportunities for the kids to show off what they’ve learned in a non-pressure friends and family environment. We’ve seen it time and time again, kids just beam after they’ve shown off their new found skills on the instrument! It’s such a great thing for their development. We do a once a year recital in the spring, often in tandem with a school event, and the kids will have the chance to do show-and-tell type demonstrations for their classrooms from time to time.

The Tuition
Monthly Option – This option takes the annual tuition and divides it evenly into 9 installments of $135. Installments process on the 3rd of every month (First: October 3rd, Last: June 3rd). A monthly budget option that extends the number of installments to 12 (lowering the monthly payment to $101.25) is available on the basis of need. Please inquire for further details.   

Annual/Semesteral Option – You can also do either 1 annual or 2 semesteral installments, and we offer a 3% discount off of the total tuition ($1215) for either of those options.  Installments process on October 3rd and February 3rd.

Sibling Discount – For families enrolling more than one child in the program, we offer a 10% sibling discount on the 2nd and 3rd, etc.

Need Based Scholarship Discounts – For families who qualify for assistance, Music Kids is proud to offer tuition discounts to make the cost of classes more feasible. Please inquire with us directly about our rolling application process.

Cost Comparison – Just as a frame of reference, compared to taking classes at a Suzuki studio outside of school, our tuition is, on average, about $600/year less. We really try to do everything we can to make it both as convenient and affordable as possible for parents!

Discontinuation – We like to work closely with parents and student to overcome challenges and we’re all about teaching children how to stick with things and helping them see and experience the rewards that come when they do, but if, after we’ve made some adjustments and it still doesn’t seem to be working out, or it looks like it’s just a miserable experience for them for some reason (although we’re confident that the latter will never happen!), we definitely leave room for deciding that it’s just not the right time and place and allow parents to discontinue mid-year.

Scroll back up to the top of the page to register!
Securing a spot in the program is done on a first come first serve basis. If you have any questions and to setup a time to talk to us about whether the program is a good fit for your child, please contact SMA violin teacher, Mr. Anthony Gualandri, at Anthony.Gualandri@MusicKidsProgram.com or 312-265-3962.

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