Course Director: Daniel Smith BA(Hons), PGCE

The Junior Academy First String Experience (FSE) was established to provide Early Years string training for Royal Academy string students as well as providing young children with the best possible start to their development as players of string instruments.

Now in its 32nd year, the course continues to emphasise the encouragement of basic musical skills, physical ease with the instrument and the enjoyment of playing, through group tuition and ensemble playing. All sessions are held on Saturdays at the Royal Academy of Music, teaching coinciding with normal school terms. The importance of parents’/guardians’ enthusiasm and interest cannot be over-emphasised, both in accompanying children to the sessions and also encouraging and helping to sustain interest through the week. A concert is given by each year group of the course at the end of each term.

Please note: this course is intended for children who have not had previous string tuition and no additional private lessons should be arranged while children are on the FSE course.

First year: Saturdays, 9.15–10.00am

Sessions concentrate on initial musical development, working imaginatively with pulse, rhythm and pitch. It is essential for a parent to accompany each child to these sessions. This pre-instrumental year lays the musical foundations for the tuition on string instruments that follows in subsequent years.

Second and third years: Saturdays, 10.30am–12.30pm (2nd year) and 1.00–3.00pm (3rd year).

It is still essential for parents/guardians to accompany children to all the sessions in year 2/3.

A choice is made from violin, viola, cello and mini-bass for the second year onwards.

The two-hour sessions consist of four 30-minute periods – a large ensemble session, a group instrumental lesson, general musicianship and a period for musical games and refreshment or further ensemble playing. Much emphasis is placed on comfort with the instrument and an overall physical co-ordination and ease.

The instrumental lessons are typically in groups of about five or six, and the musical material used forms the basis of the ensemble playing. The general musicianship sessions explore all elements of music, including note-reading, in an active and stimulating fashion.

The course is led by a widely experienced team, including Daniel Smith (Director), Paola Delucchi (Lead Upper Strings), Lara Moore (Lead Cello) and Mercedes Cartwright (Lead Double Bass).

Fees for September 2020- July 2021 are given below as a guide – there will be a small percentage increase for 2021/22.

FSE – Year 1 £107 per term (£321 per year)
FSE – Years 2 & 3 £242 per term (£726 per year)

Fees are payable on receipt of an invoice each term. A full term’s notice in writing to the Junior Academy Administrator is required for withdrawal of children from the course, or fees are payable in lieu of such notice.

Places on subsequent years are subject to continuing satisfactory progress and commitment.

It is important for the success of group work that children on the course should be of the same year-group. Children applying to start in September 2021 must have been born between 1 June 2016 and 31 May 2017.

Application is made by submitting the 2021 application form online which will be available from late October 2020. The closing date will be Monday 11 January 2021, and no further applications will be considered after this date. No exceptions can be made for the age requirement and it will not be possible to join at an older age mid-way through the three years of the course.

As the course is very popular and space is limited, places will be allocated by random ballot. A short waiting list will also be drawn by ballot. All applicants will be notified by email with the outcome of the ballot in early January 2021.

The Royal Academy of Music welcomes applications from potential students with disabilities or special needs.