Private Lessons and Group Classes

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Illinois String Academy will continue to lead instruction 100% online throughout the Spring 2021 semester, or until University policies are updated to allow for ISA in-person instruction to occur. We are accepting new students and offering free trials, and all of our previously cancelled offerings have returned this semester in online formats. 

String Academy instruction incorporates a great variety of teaching philosophies and approaches, most notably those of Paul Rolland, Shinichi Suzuki, and Mimi Zweig.

Private lessons are currently available for the violin, viola, cello and double bass. Private lesson students in kindergarten through eighth grade (age 5-14, approximately) also attend a weekly group class, which is required for violin, viola and cello students in these grade levels. Optional group classes may be available to pre-kindergarten age students, as well as chamber music opportunities and/or music theory courses for students age 10 to 18. 

Interested families, parents or students should contact the Coordinator, Dr. Aaron Jacobs, to determine the best course of study. An introductory consultation and/or trial lesson may be scheduled free of charge.

Please scroll down for information about the following:
—New Students (Beginners)
—Transfer Students (Students with previous playing experience)
—Family Involvement Guidelines
—Finding an Instrument

New Students (Beginners)

New beginning students are generally accepted between the ages of 5 and 8, but there are many exceptions, and inquiries are welcomed from all. Families or interested students should review the information on this webpage and contact the program Coordinator before submitting the online registration. We encourage those interested in group classes to complete registration before the beginning of the new term to avoid a delayed start to the semester.

Transfer Students (Students with previous playing experience)

There are many different methods and approaches of learning how to play a stringed instrument. The Illinois String Academy has a specific curriculum that all students enrolled in group classes learn. An incoming transfer student can start working with a private teacher right away, but may need to spend some time learning the curriculum before participating in group classes. A certain amount of group class observation may also be recommended. The way in which a transfer student is integrated into the program will vary depending on a student’s background and is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes students are referred to standard private lessons without group classes. Please contact the Coordinator for more information and to schedule a free consultation and/or trial lesson.

Family Involvement Guidelines

Consistent evidence and extensive experience has shown that the amount learned and the speed with which it is learned is directly associated with the degree to which family members are involved with a child’s study. Whether it is a parent, guardian, grandparent, kith or kin caregiver, it is highly encouraged that a family member attend private lessons and group classes, take notes for students during lessons, and assist students during at-home practice sessions. Studying the instrument along side a young student is also encouraged for those who are interested, and can be very motivating. Consistent, daily musical activities and music listening reinforce learning and help to establish practice as a daily habit. As students grow and mature, the amount of family involvement required will gradually lessen.

Finding an Instrument

Do not purchase an instrument without your teacher’s approval! A well set-up instrument is essential to the development of young string players. Your teacher will also help to determine the correct size of instrument that is needed. Smaller is better than larger.


Private lessons are scheduled directly with your private teacher. Group classes for beginners will take place on Wednesday afternoons throughout the academic year. Other group classes generally take place on Wednesday or Thursday in the afternoon and evening, and Saturday mornings. Group classes are not offered during the summer.