FAQ

WHAT IS EL SISTEMA? 

Developed by Shinichi Suzuki, the Suzuki Method or "Talent Education" was founded shortly after World War II in an effort to help the joy to the lives of war-torn children of Japan. Suzuki educators believe that:

  • Every child has potential to succeed.

  • Students are never to young or too old to learn. 

  • The learning process should be a joyful and nurturing one. 

  • Character development is the main purpose. This is accomplished through acquisition of high musical skill. 

  • Parents/guardians are partners in the education process, and are included as active partners. 

  • No two students are exactly alike; therefore, lessons are custom tailored to each student. 

  • Just like learning the native language, students begin by listening to music and playing what they hear and see. Reading print music follows the ability to play ("speak") fluently. 

  • Students and families reach their highest potential when surrounded by a joyful learning community, all working together to ensure the best possible outcomes for their children.

WHAT INSTRUMENTS DO YOU OFFER?

At this time, Harmony School offers lessons in violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

WHAT AGE STUDENTS DO YOU TEACH?

Students of any age are welcome, including adults. While we do accept students as young as age 2, we also accept beginning and continuing students from public and private school programs, home school students, and adult students. Click here for more information about our programs. 

MY CHILD HAS ALREADY STARTED PLAYING HIS INSTRUMENT AT SCHOOL. CAN SHE STILL TAKE LESSONS AT HARMONY SCHOOL?

Absolutely. We have teachers who specialize in working with students from school orchestra programs, as well as teachers trained in pure Suzuki Method. That being said, each of our students is expected to study solo music as well as orchestra music, and to practice lesson assignments regularly.

I DON’T HAVE ANY MUSICAL TRAINING: IS THAT OK?

Of course! Suzuki training includes what is often called ‘Parent Education.’ This is a support program/orientation in which you receive basic training on your child’s instrument, as well as engage in study of what Suzuki teaching philosophy is and tricks for helping your child at home. In our program, how much a parent learns ahead of their child is flexible, depending on the needs of the student. Suzuki is a great way for parents and children to grow together, and teachers are there to support you along the way!

HOLD ON....I HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY!!??

We ask that each and every one of our students have a parent/guardian at home that has enough knowledge to be a helpful partner. For adolescent students, this may mean attending your child's concerts regularly, taking your child to high-quality live performances, making sure the child is practicing regularly, asking for the occasional home performance, and even asking the child for a lesson or two. In the case of young students, this means the parent/guardian learns basic violin technique in order to supervise practice at home. As is the case with all aspects of raising our children, each stage of growing up will need a slightly different parenting approach. Faculty at Harmony School are dedicated to helping you find the right balance of support for your child at all stages of development. 

CAN I BRING MY OTHER CHILDREN?

Siblings are always welcome. Attending the lesson of an older sibling is often the first step of music education! Please bring a quiet activity along for them to do so that they are not disruptive during the lesson.

Do the students have to pay?

Harmony School ensembles, including instruments, are free-of-charge to all students.

Donations fund our programs, and families are welcome to make a donation of time, talent, or treasure to support our learning community, but it is never required.  

 

What types of activities are available for students?

All students in our program start with Bucket Band. Once they have gained ensemble and rhythm basics, they may apply to join Harmony Winds (woodwind and brass) and Harmony Strings (violin, viola, cello, upright bass). Harmony students also have access to workshops, festival orchestras (auditioned and non-competitive), and some college scholarship opportunities through the global El Sistema community. 

 

 

Do students need to own their own instruments?

No. To eliminate financial barriers, Harmony School will provide instruments to any enrolled student that needs one. If a student has their own instrument they would like to use, or if their school has already provided one, the student does not have to use Harmony School’s instruments. 

 

Where do ensembles meet?

Summer 2021 programming is scheduled to occur at Marquis Hall on Coe College campus. Other site partners include Johnson STEAM Academy and Jane Boyd Community Center. As we see pandemic restrictions relaxed, more information concerning rehearsal sites will be available. 

 

Do students have to be able to read music?

No. Students begin learning by example, call and response, and instinct. As their musical abilities grow, music reading will be introduced in our classes. 

 

My child will need transportation. What can I do?

At this time, we do not have a van or bus to transport kids. However, we will help parents connect with other parents to form carpools, and plan to have volunteers available to help young students ride the city bus. When you register your child, you can tell us your transportation needs. 

 

Who teaches the activities?

Our lead teaching artists are hired based on experience, love for children, and a passion for the work of social justice through music. Teaching artists are supported in the classroom by Coe College practicum students and carefully selected community volunteers. We build cooperative relationships amongst all participants, and students are encouraged to teach each other, as well. See Our Team for more information about our senior staff and board of directors. 

 

How is this different from the music education students receive in school?

It is not our intention to compete with existing school music programs but to expand musical opportunities for everyone. It is our hope that we will work as partners with local school programs, attaining higher levels of artistry and participation together. 

 

We make regular, high-quality instrumental music available to students who otherwise do not have access. This includes students 2nd-5th grade, home school students, private school students, and students from area districts that have limited music programs. Classes are multi-age so older students gain leadership skills and younger students learn from older peers. Our students conduct, compose, and improvise. Not only do they practice these skills, they regularly create and direct their own music in performance. 

 

In addition to Iowa Fine Arts Standards, we also incorporate the Social Justice Standards into our daily work. Not only do we strive for these standards, we also target the executive and socioemotional skills students need to accomplish these goals and any other goal they set their minds to. 

 

How do I get my student involved?

Click here to fill out our registration form. Enrollment is open all year round, but space is limited. 

How is it funded?

Harmony School is funded by grants, financial donations, volunteer service, and items and services donated by partner organizations such as Coe College, Dream511, and West Music. We appreciate all of our supporters who have chosen to become part of the movement for inclusive creative education. 

 

How can I help?

There are many ways to get involved! The easiest way is to donate. Every dollar goes to making sure our students here at home have access to a caring, inclusive learning environment. We also accept donations of playable musical instruments, new or used. Volunteers are always welcome! We can always use help with events, website updates, social media, and spreading the word. Please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page for more information.

HOW DO WE ENROLL?

Lessons can begin at any time during the year. Simply call us at 319-540-7798 or click here to send a message. To date, we have been able to place each family quickly, but there could be a waiting period until an appropriate teacher can be found at a time that works for you. In this case, a $20 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your place. This deposit is then credited to your first tuition payment.

HOW MUCH DO LESSONS COST?

Lessons cost $35.00 per half hour. As students move into intermediate and advanced levels of ability, their lessons will get longer, up to an hour. Charges are figured based on a year-long contract, and equal installments are due the first of every month. Contact us for a more accurate estimate of what your monthly rates would be, based on start date and length of lesson. 

DO YOU OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS?

YES! A limited amount of scholarship funding and lower-cost lesson space is available for students who begin August 21, 2017 and later. Financial aid is available based strictly on need. Contact us as soon as possible to request the application form. All students who want to work hard and learn are welcome here; we are 100% committed to a nondiscriminatory award process.

 

NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Harmony School of Music, Inc. is committed to providing an environment that is welcoming to every person. In all its programs and practices, Harmony School prohibits discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.