Category Archives: For Parents

Fall ’18 Group Class Updates & Information

Many thanks to everyone who came out and joined us for our annual Play-In & Ice Cream social to help kick off the school year.  It was a lot of fun to see and hear you all back in one place again after summer.  There’s something really special about a large group of stringed instruments playing together, as you can hear at Suzuki Institutes, Workshops, and group performances – I really recommend experiencing it as often as you can!  To those who weren’t able to make it this time, we missed you and we hope you’ll be able to join us for the next one!

Starting next Tuesday, August 28, fall group classes will begin in earnest at Good Shepherd Church (1166 S Mason).  The schedule is the same as in past years:

  • 5:30-6:00 p.m. – A Majors (Pre-Twinkle – Andantino)
  • 6:10-6:40 p.m. – G Majors (Etude – Bach Bourree)
  • 6:50-7:20 p.m. – Viola Choir (layered violas of all levels)
  • 7:20-8:05 p.m. – Circle of 5ths (Book 4+)
  • 8:05-8:50 p.m. – Performance Ensemble (supplemental/non-Suzuki Book 4+)

HOWEVER, many of you have graduated to new class levels!  If you have moved into the second half of Book 1, we would love to have you join us in G Majors.  If you’ve completed Book 3 and are making your way into Book 4, we would love to have you get your feet wet in Circle of 5ths AND keep coming to G Majors.  If you’re solidly in Book 4, 5, 6 or above, we’d love to have you in Performance Ensemble, as well.  Please refer to the sheet below to find your assigned group(s) for this semester, and let your teacher know if you have any questions.  We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday evenings!

FA19 Group Class Rosters

Spring Festival ’18

West County Strings’ 2018 Spring Festival is set for the afternoon of Sunday, April 29.  Dress rehearsals will run from 1:00-3:00 p.m., and the concert will begin at 3:30 p.m.  Reception to follow.  All events will be held at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, 15037 Clayton Rd.  Read on for everything you need to know about the day!

 

Who Have You Invited?

For the past few years, we have been grateful to be welcomed to hold our Spring Festival at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church.  The space is awesome.  It is also large!  Your children have all worked so hard this semester to prepare for this concert, and we want them to have an audience as wonderful as their playing! So,

***We’re asking every student, every sibling, and every parent to invite at least one friend, classmate, colleague, or neighbor to come***

It will be a great afternoon of music, and there’s food and drinks to follow!

Now, I know you might be thinking, “Other families will invite people, I don’t need to do it.”  If that’s you, then this message is specifically for you!  Bring someone along.  It’s always a wonderful time.

Dress Rehearsal Schedule

– 1:00 p.m: Vivaldi 4 Seasons
– 1:20 p.m: Bach Double
– 1:40 p.m: Violas (Lully Gavotte, Musette, Etude, Swanee River)
– 2:00 p.m: Humoresque, Boccherini Minuet, Hunter’s Chorus
– 2:30 p.m: Gossec Gavotte, Minuet 2, Perpetual Motion, Allegro
– 2:45 p.m: Song of the Wind, Lightly Row, Twinkles, Chicken on a Fencepost, Old Brass Wagon, Paw Paw Patch

***Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled rehearsal start time in order to allow time to unpack, tune, and be prepared to begin right on time!***

Performance Attire

We ask that all students and their families wear their “Sunday best” for all performances.  This means no jeans, no tennis shoes or sandals, and no t-shirts.  Ball gowns and tuxedos are certainly not required, either!  Dress slacks, button-down shirts, and dress shoes are suitable for boys, and tasteful dresses or skirts/dress pants and blouses are appropriate for girls.

***All students whose performance requires sheet music must have their music in a black, 1/2-inch, 3-ring binder, preferably in plastic sheet protectors.***

Parent Volunteers

Do you have a favorite treat that is your specialty?  A punch recipe that is to die for?  Are you able to pick up a box of cookies or crackers or a bag of fruit on your way?  If so, we would love to have your contributions to this year’s reception.

***You can sign up online, or in the studio during your lesson.***

We are extremely grateful for your help!

Still Wondering… ?

Not sure if you know all the pieces you’ll be playing?  Check out the Spring Festival ’18 Repertoire List.  If you have any other questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher in your lesson or Mr. Brad at group class.  Speaking of group class, we only have classes the evenings of 4/17 and 4/24 left to prepare!  So we hope to see you there!

Summer ’18 Registration Now Open!

It may be hard to believe, with temperatures in the 30s as I write this, but summer is just around the corner!  And with summer comes the Summer ’18 Semester at West County Strings. Registration (you can get your form here) for the summer is due by May 19, and the summer semester will run from June 4 – August 17.

Kirby and I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with so many of you this summer, and to the opportunity to begin working with many more of you who have been patiently waiting for a lesson time to become available or who are considering lessons at West County Strings for the first time. Here’s a couple things that makes the summer such a great time at West County Strings:

  • We remake our schedule from the ground up.  So, if you’re a prospective family that’s been waiting patiently for an availability or a current family hoping for a time that would work better for you, there’s literally no better time than right now to get started and make that happen!
  • Scheduling is flexible.  We know families are in and out of town throughout the summer, so we allow you to sign up for only the weeks you’re in town and available for lessons.  If you want lessons every week, we’ve got you covered.  If you’ll be out of the county much of the summer, we’ll miss you while you’re gone, but we’d love to see you on the weeks you’re here!
  • Students have more time and less stress than during the school year, which means they can devote more time and energy to practicing and often make great progress over the short course of the summer.
  • Students have less other musical demands from orchestra, All-Suburban, All-State, and the like, which means we can focus less on making improvements to their individual technique, ability, and repertoire.

Current students and their families, and prospective families who have competed their observations with me or Kirby, please complete and return your summer registration form at your earliest convenience.  If you are a new family that has not yet had the chance to observe a lesson with me or Kirby, please contact us at (636) 219-0450.  We’d love to tell you more about our program, and schedule a time for us to meet and for you to see what lessons at West County Strings are like!

We look forward to seeing you all this summer!

– Brad

SU18 Registration

Welcome to the Home Stretch!

Once upon a time – long, long ago – I used to run cross country.  There’s something I really  enjoyed about training for cross country races.  As you get to know the course and your body, you start to get a feel for how to pace yourself, when to conserve energy and when to exert it.  And there’s something especially satisfying about the “home stretch” – that last straightaway to the finish line – because you know that you can just leave it all out there because afterwards the race is over.

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Well, as far as this school year goes, we are now on the “home stretch!” April and May are arguably the biggest months of the whole year for preparation and performances, but afterward lies summer, so you know you can put in the kind of work that makes you think, “I can’t keep this up forever!” because (good news!) you don’t have to.  The end is in sight.  But now is the time to push yourself.

The first thing coming up is the Spring Festival group performance on Sunday, April 29.  We only have four (that’s right – 4!) Tuesday night rehearsals left to get ready.  That means everyone needs to be well-prepared individually for all the repertoire that they’re responsible for, and prioritizing attending class this upcoming month.  (If your’e wondering what repertoire you’re responsible for, you can find it here.)  I’m looking forward to these next four weeks of classes, to seeing how much we can improve as groups, and to having fun as we do it!

Halloween Performance & Party

Every fall, we look forward to our Halloween Group Class Performance and the Party that follows.  Here’s what you need to know for this year’s installment:

Who: Any and all of Mr. Brad and Ms. Kirby’s students.
What: An informal performance of selected Suzuki repertoire and other supplemental pieces, followed by snacks and games.
Where: the Parish Hall at Good Shepherd Church, 1166 S. Mason Rd., Town & Country, MO 63131.
When: Tuesday, October 24, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
How: Wear a costume, invite your friends and family, and sign up to help set up, tear down, or bring treats.

Here is the repertoire list that we will be focusing on in group classes for the next few weeks to prepare for the performance:

Ensemble
Sadness, B. Tours
Fugue in Two Parts, C. Dancla
Coleraine (Irish Jig)

Pre-Twinklers
Chicken on a Fencepost Variations (A, C, E)
Paw Paw Patch
Old Brass Wagon

Violins
Seitz 2:III
Gavotte in g minor (w/ violas)
Old Joe Clark
Witches’ Dance

Violas
Handel Bourree (w/ duet)
Chorus from
Judas Maccabaeus (w/ duet)
French Folk Song (w/ duet)

Violins & Violas
Etude (w/ viola duet)
Rhody Variations
Song of the Wind
Twinkle Theme & Variations (A, C, Theme)

 

Studio Update – September 2017

When I was in junior high, I played on our schools 6th, 7th, and 8th grade basketball teams.  Our practices were full of layups, free throws, defensive drills, and sprints, and on game days we were required to wear dress pants, a dress shirt, and a tie to school and to the game.  The members of the opposing team (who would usually be wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, and the like) would often snicker when we showed up in our dress clothes, but I remember feeling an immense sense of pride in what we did – we were a team, we worked hard on doing the little things right, and we took our craft seriously.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those game days and dress clothes as this school year gets rolling along.  As the business of school picks up, I notice more instances of practice charts being misplaced, books being forgotten on the stand at home, and practice assignments not receiving the attention they deserve during the week.  My thought on these matters is this – take your craft seriously, work hard on doing the little things right, and take pride in doing so.  There’s a connection between sloppy preparation (even in things as little as keeping track of your practice chart) and a sloppy approach to playing.  So start with the little things.  Organize your materials, organize your mind, and we’ll work on increasingly organizing your technique and playing.

I’ve also been surprised how many students have reported a lot of illness at school already this year.  It seems early in the year for people to be coming down sick!  But, as part of respecting your teachers and your fellow students please, please do not come to your lessons sick.  Everything we do is done in close quarters with a lot of hands-on correction, so it is imperative to keep illness out of the studio as much as possible.  Thank you for your courtesy on this matter.

And finally, we have been missing many of you at group classes thus far this school year! I know that the responsibilities and requirements of school are often very time-consuming, especially for junior high and even more for high school students.  However, group classes are a very necessary supplement to your private lessons as part of your full musical development.  Please make every effort to attend your respective classes!

See you in lessons this week!

– Brad