Author Archives: Brad

Fall ’19 Newsletter

The ’19-’20 school year at West County Strings kicks off Monday, August 19.  We’re so looking forward to all that we’ll be able to learn and accomplish together with all of our students and their families this school year!  For everything you need to know to start the year off on the right foot, please read our Fall ’19 Newsletter (download here).  We’ll see you all next week!

FA19 Newsletter, pg 1

FA19 Newsletter, pg 2

2019-2020 Registration Now Open!

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are enjoying your summer, whether here in St. Louis, or traveling around the country or around the world!  At various music camps and Suzuki Institutes this summer, Kirby and I have had the opportunity to work with students both from around the St. Louis area and from all parts of the country.  And while that is always invigorating, rewarding, and a lot of fun, what it has really left me feeling is that what we have the opportunity to do day-in and day-out, year-round at West County Strings is special and doesn’t happen just anywhere.  Every day, students at West County Strings are getting a clearer vision of what musical excellence is, and what holding themselves to the highest standard of ability looks like.  They are getting the skills that help them achieve that musical excellence, skills that carry over as personal qualities and characteristics that help them succeed in many other areas of life.  We strive to hold ourselves to the highest standard as teachers each and every day, and to create the absolute best musical education and experience for you and your children that we can.  And we look thank you for joining us in this pursuit!

So now, even as another half of the summer stretches out in front of us, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year!  Here is your copy of our 2019-2020 Registration Form.  Please complete and return this form, along with your registration fee as soon as possible, and no later than July 31.  Please note that if you have not completed the “Policies” portion of your form or included a registration fee, we will not be able to process your registration.  The sooner we receive everyone’s forms, the sooner Kirby and I will be able to see how our teaching days and blocks will fill out this school year, and the better job we will be able to do of creating a schedule that works for everyone.  If we do not receive your form in a timely fashion, it is likely we will not be able to schedule you at your desired time, and possible that we will not be able to schedule you at all.  So please act promptly!

As Kirby and I prepare for another new school year, we are thinking about each and every one of our returning students, and those new students that we’ve had the pleasure to meet this summer and are asking ourselves: How can we create a vision for this student of just how wonderful, amazing, beautiful, and worthy of pursuing music is?  How can we inspire them to dedicate themselves to the daily practice and improvement of their skills and abilities?  What concrete steps does this particular student need to take this year, and what insight and information can I pass on to them to best help them in that journey?  What kind of musical opportunities and connections can we create for this students, both here in the St. Louis area and abroad?  How can we make this year a year that this student and their family will look back on fondly as a cherished musical memory for years to come?  I trust that you will be able to see these questions being answered as the 2019-2020 school year unfolds, and we look forward to each special moment of this year’s journey with you!

As always, as you go through the registration process please let me know if you have any questions at all, and I will be happy to answer them as quickly as I can.

Thanks, and have a wonderful rest of your summer!

– Brad

Spring ’19 Solo Recital Recap

Wow.  I’m actually taking breaks from typing to clap in the air as I think back about our students’ performances this past Sunday, and I have a big smile on my face.  Wow!

To all the students who performed: Bravo! You displayed wonderful technique, mature musicality, and great respect for one another’s performances.  You should be incredibly proud of yourselves!  Each semester’s recital keeps displaying a higher quality of playing year after year, and that shows the work each of you is putting in and the improvements you are all making!

To all the parents who attended: Thank you, thank you, thank you!  West County Strings couldn’t be what it is without your continual commitment of time and energy to your children’s musical education.

And to each and every family: Please know that Kirby and I find ourselves blown away by how fortunate we are to be able to work with such wonderful families.  It was wonderful to be able to spend time visiting with you and seeing your children eating, playing, and socializing with one another – just enjoying some well-deserved fun after putting in so much hard work for their performances!  And thank you so much for all your contributions to the potluck and help setting up and cleaning up.  You’re all wonderful people that we’re thankful for the opportunity to work with!

To anyone who wasn’t able to join us for this recital, and anyone who did play this past Sunday but would like more opportunities to perform, we hope you’ll join us at one of several home concerts hosted by studio families this summer!

If you didn’t manage to get any photos, here’s some we grabbed from the day:

Spring ’19 Solo Recital!

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and we want to send you into summer on a high note with our spring solo recital.  Your children have been working so hard to prepare for these performances over the past weeks and months, so here’s the details you need to know for the day.

The recital will be held on Sunday, May 19 at 2:00 p.m. at The Fulton School at St. Albans (123 Schoolhouse Rd, St. Albans, MO 63073).  We’re so thankful to The Fulton School for offering to share their wonderful space with us, and we’re looking forward to filling their Keeping Room with beautiful music, and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature all around.

Our plan is to hold one single, large recital as opposed to the three smaller recitals we usually hold, so that all of us can enjoy each other’s performances and then join all together for a potluck dinner afterward.  Kirby and I will be providing sandwiches and drinks, and we’re asking that each family bring a main dish or side dish to share with everyone.  Please sign up in the studio to let us know what dish you will be bringing!

Piano rehearsals will be held in our studio on Tuesday, May 14 beginning at 2:00 p.m.  If you are unsure whether your child needs a rehearsal, or how much rehearsal time you should sign them up for, please check with your teacher.  To sign up for a rehearsal time, please click here.

And finally, please remember that the dress code for our performances is “dress casual” (i.e. no jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, and the like).  A good guideline is khakis or dress slacks for boys with a polo or button down dress shirt and dress shoes, tie optional; and dress slacks or a skirt with a dress blouse or a semi-formal dress for girls.

We look forward to seeing you all on the 19th!

Summer ’19 Registration is Now Open!

It’s hard to believe that another school year is already nearing its completion.  At the same time, when we look back at how much our students have grown (both literally, in many cases, and in their abilities as musicians!) it’s clear that this has been a very full, productive, and memorable school year.

In fact, at the end of each school year Kirby and I find ourselves saying to one another that this most recent year has been our best – even better than all the great ones that came before it.  I believe that one contributing factor to that ever-increasing excellence is our commitment as teachers to be lifelong learns – students of both our instruments and of the art of teaching.  We hope, plan, and take the steps to be better teachers each day than the day before, each week than the week before, and each year than the year before.

Another huge part of the excellence of this past school year is the commitment of each and every one of the students that we work with and their families to invest their time and energy into their personal practice, development of musical habits, and the community of West County Strings.  Each year, I believe an environment is cultivated amongst the families that we work with that fosters growth, and for that I am beyond proud and grateful.

The next big thing on our horizon is the Spring ’19 Semester.  We don’t hold formal group classes over the summer like we do during the school year, because we know so many students and their families will be in and out of town.  However, we would love to see each and every one of you for private lessons as often as we can, and we hope to sprinkle in some ensemble learning opportunities throughout the summer, as well.

So, if you’re a returning student, Summer ’19 Registration and submit it to your teacher as soon as possible!  And if you’re a new family considering lessons at West County Strings, now is the perfect time to get in touch – come observe some lessons, schedule a trial lesson or two, get a feel for what we do here.  We’d love to have you join us for this summer and the school year ahead!

March ’19 Update

It’s been a long, cold St. Louis winter, but spring is just around the corner, as is Spring Break at West County Strings.  Our Spring Break will run from Sunday, March 17 – Sunday, March 24, during which time there will be no private lessons or group classes.  We hope you all enjoy a little bit of rest and relaxation, particularly because when we come back from break, things get busy!


Following break, we will have 1 more Tuesday-evening group class prior to the Spring Festival dress rehearsal and group performance on Sunday, March 31.  Dress rehearsal will begin at 1:00 p.m. and run until 3:00 p.m. and run in reverse concert order, meaning Ensemble will rehearse first and Pre-Twinklers will not need to arrive until closer to 3:00.  The concert will begin at 3:30.  Both rehearsal and the concert will be held in the sanctuary of Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, 15037 Clayton Rd.  And just in case you’re unsure what all repertoire you need to know, here’s the rep list.

Two weeks following the Spring Festival, students who have opted to participate in the Missouri Federation of Music Clubs’ festival will have their performances at St. Charles Community College.  Schedules for the event have yet to be released, but based on prior years students should expect their performances to be held in the afternoon of Sunday, April 14.  Rehearsals will be available with accompanist Daniel Fry on the afternoons of Tuesday April 2 or 9 in preparation for the festival.  Details will be sent to participating families in the near future.

And finally, Spring Solo Recitals will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, April 28.  Pieces for the solo recitals must be memorized no later than one month prior to the performance, or in this case roughly the end of March.  Your teacher will be helping you select your piece in the next few weeks.  Recitals are tentatively scheduled to be held in the KREW Room of Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, 15037 Clayton Rd.  

On a personal note, I want to share how encouraged I am by the number of students and families who are putting in consistent, careful practice this school year.  Many have been consistent – even daily – practicers for years, and are reaping the rewards of developing such wonderful habits.  Many more are putting in the hard work of developing new, productive habits this school year and this semester, and I am seeing the transformation.  You may be familiar with Dr. Suzuki’s mantra, “Practice only on the days you eat!”  When I was a child, I thought that this must surely be hyperbole, intended to scare students in the right direction.  As an adult, however, I increasingly see that the practice of a daily routine is something very fundamental to the way our bodies and our minds are wired, and this doesn’t just apply to building skill at a musical instrument, but any skill we want to develop (if you haven’t had a chance, take a look at the book The Talent Code on the coffee table in the studio).  So, know that your hard work is making a difference, and it is noticed.  And let’s continue to build even more successes on top of your current success!

And last but certainly not least, I want to thank all of you for the way that you have supported each other as a studio and a program this school year in switching lesson times with one another when a scheduling conflict has arisen for a student or their family.  I think we may have had a record number of needs arise thus far this school year, and yet I think fewer lessons have been missed than ever before.  This consistency has certainly paid off in a level of quality across the studio.  Thank you all for lending each other a helping hand.

See you all this week, for our final lessons and group classes before break!

Spring Festival ’19 Repertoire List

As you all hopefully know, our Spring Festival group performance is just around the corner, on Sunday, March 31.  For details about the day and location, please see our March studio update.  But, for the repertoire that you need to know for that day by heart, and should be able to play at 2 a.m. if a bucket of cold water got splashed in your face, read below!  If you have any questions at all about whether you are responsible for a particular piece, ask your teacher as soon as possible.

A Majors
Chicken on a Fencepost Variations
Paw Paw Patch
Old Brass Wagon Variations
Happy Fiddling
Take a Turn Twinkle

G Majors
Lightly Row
Song of the Wind
Long, Long Ago
Happy Farmer
Minuet (Bk. 3)
Gavotte in G minor

Viola Choir
Minuet 1
Chorus from Judas Maccabeaus

Circle of 5ths
All G Majors repertoire +
Vivaldi A minor, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd mvmts

Seitz No. 5, 1st mvmt (w/ orchestra)
Millionaire’s Hoedown (pull out group)
Mystery Waltz (Karen, Jemuel, Tarini)

Happy practicing!