In my experience, parents often have two types of choices, when it comes to activities for their children: 1) A highly-intense, high-commitment, high-cost "expert" track, or 2) An environment that is kind and embracing, but not focused on skill development. To find an orchestra experience that leans in quality towards the first but remains accessible - financially, time-wise and emotionally - is a gift. Elemental Strings operates with peak professionalism. In addition to attracting and maintaining excellent educators, they are organized, communicative, and clear in vision. As both a parent and a professional musician, I can't endorse Elemental Strings highly enough.
Elemental Music is a gift to the Santa Monica and Westside communities. After having taught orchestra at Samohi for 17 years, I have had the pleasure of having many students who, at an early age, honed their musical skills through their participation in the Elemental Music program. Once these students reached high school, they exhibited extraordinary musicianship but more importantly, early on, they developed a love of music and a commitment towards achieving a goal. There are multiple studies that conclude that students who are involved in music receive better grades and test scores throughout the curriculum than students without a musical background. Elemental Music is an enrichment program that gives students a strong foundation that will help them develop musically, socially, and academically.
Elemental Music is a top-notch, equity-minded organization with visionary staff leadership, a supportive board, and highly-qualified musician-educators, all dedicated to bridging gaps in creating community and sparking for children the life-long joy of making music.
My commitment to Elemental Music's Board of Directors comes directly from my own musical experiences. I know that children benefit in so many important ways from participating in musical lessons and ensembles and that doors will swing open for them as they go through life, as they did for me. I want these experiences to be available for all children.
This organization is focused on accessibility for families, excellent teaching, and the fostering of community - all of which support children's development and love of music. Supporting Elemental Music is a direct, tangible, local way for me to contribute to and impact the future well-being of our society. I'm grateful to be able to work with the leadership and teachers as we continually deepen our commitment to our goals.
Elemental Music has been an incredible experience. Without a doubt, It is our favorite after school activity. We have had a lot of fun over the past few years. My daughter continues to progress and her musical abilities have grown tremendously. She has learned how to read music and her passion in playing viola continues to grow.
The teachers are talented and wonderful. They are particular with techniques and they choose the best music pieces to play which challenges the kids to improve. The most rewarding are the concerts which are performed by the kids. The teachers put in a tremendous amount of effort and the results are there for all to enjoy.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about our experience with Elemental Music/Prelude Program.
Elemental Music Program has been a positive guidance for my son Julian in understanding music. With the guidance of the teachers in the program and even given Julian the one on one to master a music piece. For that Julian and I are very thankful
I enrolled my daughter in the elemental guitar program 2 years ago. The idea of learning classical guitar with kids from other schools in SMMUSD and the low cost of the program sounded good to me. I was a bit unsure how the 2 hour class would go, but it has been great!
The instruction is in classical guitar and there are 2 concerts a year, where the students dress nicely and perform on stage with their group. In addition to playing their instrument the kids learn poise, stage presence and confidence! It is always an impressive and very fun evening.
My daughter is now quite proficient at guitar and she enjoys playing. Mak Grgic, the director of Elemental Guitar, is great. He is a fantastic teacher and has a great rapport with the students.
Since school was cancelled in March the teachers and staff at EM have gone above and beyond anything that I expected as far as engaging the students. The EM staff is great at communicating and their efforts to keep the students learning and growing is impressive, putting together virtual ensembles and even offering many summer music related classes at no extra cost.
EM is one of the best programs that Santa Monica has to offer
My daughter was part of Elemental Choir for the last two years of elementary school. Elemental Music not only provided her with a great music education but it also allowed her to explore her own potential and grow as a singer. Ms. Spike and Ms. Justin are such knowledgeable and generous vocal instructors and my daughter will miss all her fellow singers very much. If there was an Elemental Music program for middle-schoolers we will sign our daughter up without excitation because it truly is one of the best after-school music programs around.
We chose Elemental Music because it was an affordable way for our daughter to be part of a choir. Our daughter felt shy and apprehensive at first because she did not know anyone in the program, but she warmed up immediately to Ms Jessi. This program has provided an exposure to beginning choir in a fun way. Our daughter has always loved to sing, and she now has vocal techniques to work on. Being part of a group music program also helps our daughter improve her confidence in a social situation. We would recommend this program for any child who would like to pursue music.
In person, Elemental Band was a highlight of each week. And now, amidst uncertainty and physical isolation, it has helped keep our 10 year-old daughter connected - to her trumpet, to other young musicians, and, most importantly, to her own capacity to learn and grow. Thanks to Elemental Band and especially its brass coach for keeping us all in tune during a dissonant time!
I am so grateful for my daughter's three years in the Elemental Strings program, and excited for her younger sister's turn in the program. Having the opportunity to play as part of an orchestra in elementary school is an incredible experience for young musicians. Every week they spend one hour rehearsing with their section (e.g., first violins, cellos) and one hour rehearsing as a full orchestra. In the final third of the year, they play in chamber ensembles, learning to perform without a conductor.
It is almost unheard of to have this much time dedicated to music instruction every week in the elementary years, in a program that is accessible to students at any level of playing, with or without the ability to also take private lessons. The program is rigorous, but also supportive and age-appropriate. The students get excited about their instruments because they feel a sense of accomplishment as well as the joy of performing as part of a group. The three performances a year are so much fun for the musicians and the families. Hearing the full orchestra play a piece, after weeks of hearing my daughter rehearse just her one part, was very special. Because the performances are filmed and posted on YouTube, we were able to share them later with extended family.
My daughter had incredible teachers in Elemental, as well as the experience of having first Mr. Aiello (who she will probably re-encounter in high school, where he is one of the conductors) and later Dr. Jo as her directors. Orchestra became an extremely important part of her life through this program, and now that she is in middle school, the school orchestra is one of her favorite parts of school and will be the one point of continuity across her three years in middle school as well as into high school as she continues to be a part of the orchestra student community. She would not be playing at the level she is, having been placed in the highest middle school orchestra as a 6th grader and fully prepared to take on the demands of the program, if not for her time in Elemental. The other day she told me, "I love orchestra at school so much, but I still miss Dr. Jo!"
My daughter loves being in choir! They get to sing at baseball games and this year are going caroling. She is on year 3! She also played the cello in elemental strings last year. The teachers are amazing! Kind, caring, professional, and amazing at their craft. The concerts are incredible and it is remarkable to see the growth and joy the children get from their programs.
Elemental Music is a wonderful program in Santa Monica for our budding musicians. My son, now an 8th grader, has really enjoyed the last couple of years playing in Academy Philharmonic. This program gives middle school musicians a chance to play in a full orchestra, instead of separated by winds and strings, like they are in school. This is a new program that has really grown. He is really excited about the quality of the music and enjoys meeting musicians from other schools. He has improved as a musician the past couple of years, and is now even mentoring the younger students in the Elemental Band. I would recommend this program to everyone who loves playing music and is looking for a challenge above the school curriculum.
Both of our children began playing with Elemental Strings this year and I cannot speak more highly of their experience. We were nervous that they would resist a Friday after school rehearsal and instead they looked forward to it each week. They received such wonderful instruction and blossomed as musicians and as performers. We have recommended Elemental Music to everyone we know with children of similar ages - the passion from the instructors is contagious and the joy that our children feel for music is absolutely a direct result.
This is an extraordinary program. My child was exposed to a wide variety of music and grew tremendously as a singer. In the beginning, he was very nervous, but by the end he performed a solo! The teachers are so dedicated and such great musicians. We even had the opportunity to hear the kids perform a piece one of the instructors composed. Give this program a high recommend!
What an incredible organization. Dr. Jo and all of her wonderful instructors have brought an outstanding musical education to both of our children and helped make musical education fun as well as affordable. The hardest part for many parents is motivating children to practice. Elemental Music challenges the students and also helps build friendships so that the children feel the social bond of playing music with their peers.
In addition the program is so well run- everyone is professional and exceedingly kind. If I could have clicked 6 stars I would have!
Elemental Music is a special organization. Our son has been a violinist with the group for three years and his time there has been remarkable. The organization is selflessly run with love and dedication by Dr. Josephine Moerschel, plus a handful of volunteers on the administrative end. And when it comes to the teaching side, the caliber of instruction is outstanding. I've had the pleasure of observing all of the individual groups from violins to trumpets to guitars and I'm constantly surprised by the quality of teaching that the kids receive. The instructors are talented musicians, of course, but their skill as teachers is where they truly shine. We're lucky to have Elemental Music as part of our lives and we can't wait for our daughter to start viola with them in the Fall!
Wow. What can I say, about this AWESOME PROGRAM. My daughter has been in Elementa Music/Guitar for 2 years now. She started in the Intro Guitar class, she is also Left Handed, which had to be very challenging for her instructors. Her musical talent has progressed by leaps and bounds I am so impressed by the professionalism Mak, Buzz, and Jackson have shown in teaching our kids how to play, with enthusiasm and confidence.
She reads music and plays songs all the way through in an ensemble, which is difficult for any Musician, let alone 9, 10, and 11 year olds. She is also one of the shyiest children I know. Last years she entered and played 2 solo guitar pieces in her school talent show. This year she will perform again whicj makes me so very proud and happy for her. If it were not for the Elemental Music/Guitar program she definitely would not have accomplished this feat. As a parent I highly recomend this very important and professional music program. I love it. You will live it too, I promise you.
Michael A Wiley/Parent - Los Angeles CA.
Elemental Music has been a terrific program for our family! We have been involved with the organization for four years. My daughter has grown so much as a musician playing trumpet first in Elemental Band and then in the Academy Philharmonic group. My son has learned a ton by advancing through the Elemental Guitar program. Elemental is such a great resource for our community. They offer high quality, personalized instruction from teachers who delight in their students' success. The organization works hard to make sure that every student in our community can access these programs regardless of income-level. Elemental has even been able to secure loaner instruments from local providers. I recommend Elemental Music to young musicians all the time. And I certainly recommend them as a non-profit to anyone who values music education in our communities.
My daughter participated in both their Prelude and Choir programs this year. She auditioned for several other choirs and was accepted into those, but she choose Elemental Choir because she instantly felt she could learn a lot from Ms. Spike, Elemental Choir's director and also have fun. We all believe she choose well.
My daughter's favorite weekly activity was going to choir rehearsals and she is the type of person who loves everything she does. She would skip going into her weekly rehearsals and truly loved every minute of being in choir this year. While she had a wonderful time, she also learned a lot and it has helped further train her ear.
In Prelude, my daughter picked up the violin for the first time. She loved her rehearsals for Prelude and even though she has had only 8 months of instruction, when she auditioned to be in other orchestras, they remarked on her sound quality and how clear it was that she's been trained well. One orchestra director was shocked to hear that she hasn't had private violin lessons. Prelude has given my daughter a solid 8 months of violin instruction and playing, which will carry her well as she continues to grow as a musician. We only wish she could continue in Elemental Strings, but she can't due to scheduling conflicts with rehearsals with Elemental Choir.
Elemental Music offers a very high level of music instruction, with kind and talented teachers who prepare the children to continue to grow as musicians. They are also straight forward with the importance of having quality daily practice to help develop their skills and their expectations of attending rehearsals ready to rehearse.
One of the best educational decisions I have made for my daughter was enrolling her in Elemental Strings. I knew this program would improve her musical ability; however, what I didn’t realize was how influential it would be in her overall development. As an educator myself, I have been incredibly impressed with the ability of the instructors to teach music in a way that makes it fun, builds mastery, and fosters confidence. My daughter has developed not only a greater love for music but also poise and self-assurance because of her involvement in Elemental Strings.
I don't think we can say enough wonderful things about Elemental Strings. My son started in Prelude this year. He had never taken any sort of music lessons before and he has loved it and learned so much. When signing him up we knew we would need financial assistance and they made it possible. Guaranteeing financial need would not stand in the way of a desire to learn. We are excited for the years to come.
My daughter has been at Elemental Music for the last 3 years, the program has been such an amazing inspiration for her, that she is now sure, that she will make music her career!
The staff is incredibly qualified and the passion they put into this programs reflects in every child lives.
We couldn't be more thankful to this program.
This program takes elementary students beyond the ordinary music class requirements in our district. It is an inspiring environment in which young musicians can experience superb training, fun/challenging repertoire, and the benefits of being surrounded by other beginning/intermediate musicians who genuinely want to participate. Elemental strings was the first experience I had that made me realize I wanted to pursue music as a career. It makes me very happy that the program continues today to inspire students at an early age by providing such opportunities.
My younger daughter started the cello this year with a broken arm. Despite being in a cast for the better part of six months (she broke and then re-broke her arm), she was allowed to participate in Elemental String's prelude program, plucking her way through the first concert since she could not bow.
This program has been wonderful for her and our family. Until now, she has been much in the shadow of her older sister, who plays the viola. Elemental Strings brought out the musician in our younger daughter and an interest in music that til now had been dormant. The teachers and coaches are wonderful and dedicated; they know how to reach kids at their level. And the product they produce at the end of the year is phenomenal.
Elemental Strings provided our daughter with an opportunity to play in an orchestra all year long. She now plays with confidence and her love for music has grown. Often times younger musicians do not have these opportunities, but ES fills this gap. Thank you ES for helping our daughter become the confident musician she is today.
This is an outstanding program. It has changed the perspective about music to our daughter. Here she has found the confidence she needed to flourish as a violinist. She is motivated to practice daily and once she starts she doesn't want to stop. She is truly enjoying her instrument! The staff is amazing and their teaching techniques are highly professional and tailored to the children's needs in a nurturing environment. We highly recommend Elemental Strings and Band.
My daughter has been so fortunate this year to be in Elemental String's Prelude program as a beginner violin. Her enthusiasm and interest in music and her instrument have increased dramatically. She enjoys practicing and WANTS to do a good job for her teacher and ensemble. The concerts were great for her confidence and just a beautiful experience for the family as well. Finally, she is mow thrilled to be moving on to her second year and her love for violin is a joy to witness. Thanks to the patient and talented teachers!
absolutely fantastic program. my daughter plays the cello and i believe through elemental stringd she found a hopefully lifelong passion. she dramatically improved her skills and confidence with a lot of joy! great teachers!!!!!! 100% worth it!!!!!!!!!
My daughter is finishing up her first year in the prelude program and could not be more excited about her upcoming participation in the elemental strings program. Aside from the professional staff, the level of musicianship taught and absorbed has been outstanding. The music pieces chosen and covered are dynamic, challenging, and build such a solid foundation. We also love the community and culture of the program! Parents bring in snacks for the children, volunteer to serve dinner at a performance, and when we can come together, it's so moving to see just who and how many people make this program so wonderful.
These teachers are wonderfully committed and SO positive with the students. Jessica Swift and Sean Garnreiter especially, have taken time before and after rehearsal to answer my questions about instruments, music pieces and help my son figure out how to transpose a piece of music he wants to play. Julia Barnett took time after the first session to adjust my son's flute so he was no longer playing flat. My 5th Grader likes to play his flute thanks to Elemental Band! His abilities and confidence has grown exponentially over this past year. Every week he is playing a variety of pieces with friends and getting feedback from teachers instead of practicing by himself. It has been the equivalent of private lessons for us. I was taking our carpool group home one evening after Elemental Band and had the classical music station playing. The kids stopped talking about Legos and started naming what instruments were playing and telling me that the music piece was a waltz.
My son participated for two years and is now sad that he can't do it for a third. Elemental Strings was a fantastic experience for him. He grew musically and got to play wonderful music with his friends. After an afternoon of lockdown at his school after a shooting rampage, the first thing my son said when he left the building was "Is Elemental Stings canceled?" He was heartbroken about it. The concert was rescheduled for the following night which speaks to the incredible dedication of the ES organization to the wellbeing of the children it serves.
My son has had a fantastic experience in his first year with Elemental Strings. It has given him great confidence and a sense of community with regards to his music study. ES constantly kept the motivation going with guest conductors, a percussion workshop, chamber music and of course the invaluable chance to play in an orchestra all year long. ES was often the highlight of my son's week! What an amazing opportunity for these young people. I am so impressed with the work of all the teachers and coaches. We will definitely be back next year.
I can't say enough good things about Elemental Strings. Being a musician myself, I highly recommend it for your child. Music is about sharing, this is a great opportunity to experience it. The teachers are top players. My daughter improved so much because of the orchestra. I'm impressed! Freddy Koella
My experience with Elemental Strings is as both a parent and a coach. This is a fabulous organization from both perspectives! My 12th grader son, a cellist, and my 8th grader daughter, a violinist, were immeasurably enriched by their 2 years in the program, and gained skills that still serve them well today. They are undoubtedly better ensemble and overall musicians than they would have been without Elemental Strings.
As a violin coach, I get to see first hand how the students develop through the course of the year. The improvement that the kids show in their listening and ensemble playing skills, and the growth of the excitement and passion that they feel for the music is remarkable! I feel privileged to be a part of it.
Elemental Strings has been a life changing experience for our daughter. She has been playing viola for nearly two years. Her time playing at school was fine, her time playing with her private teacher was fine too. But when she started with Elemental Strings, her attitude toward playing was completely transformed. She now plays with confidence and she is so proud of her abilities. She’s made wonderful friends who have similar goals along the way, the same kids she’ll be playing with in middle school and high school.
The teachers are so professional and respectful of the kids. They have high expectations of the students and it’s beautiful to see how well the kids meet their expectations.
My daughter is in 4th grade and is in the chamber orchestra. This program has been fantastic. The teachers are very talented, professional and dedicated. This is an incredible opportunity for children to experience playing with an orchestra. My daughter's skills have really improved and she is motivated to play. Highly recommended!
My name is Lydia Tseng. I am one of the violin coaches for Sinfonia and Music Director of the Prelude Program—an Elemental Strings program which was newly launched for fourth graders in the fall of 2012. Shortly after moving to California from the east coast, I was introduced to the program. Since the fall of 2006, I began occasionally working as a substitute teacher for the program, and I have officially been on staff as a permanent member since April of 2012. From the very beginning, I have been highly impressed with the level of learning available to the students. I teach privately in the Santa Monica area, and Elemental Strings is a program that I without fail encourage all eligible students to participate in. I have seen my own students light on fire with passion for their instrument as a result of their participation in the program. It also gives them the opportunity very early on to become familiar and comfortable with the audition process and also with playing in an orchestral setting. As a teacher, working with these students is often the highlight of my week. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work alongside very talented musicians and teachers. In addition, working with students who have an immense desire to learn more about music brings much joy to my spirit.
My son participates in Elemental Strings. He loves loves loves to go to the program. It challenges him on his instrument and he gets to experience what it is like to play beautiful music as a group. This is a really well-organized program with obvious above and beyond dedication from the teachers. It will help to channel a diverse group of kids into the top orchestral programs in the Santa Monica schools by pushing them to excel. That is one reason it is needed here.
This program has completely inspired my son and has turned him into a musician. The instruction is excellent and the children have improved so much since September. We love the selections chosen for the concerts--the quality is beyond what you would expect 4th and fifth graders to play.
My son loves going to rehearsals--even though he knew no one at the start of the season. There's a friendly and fun vibe to the program yet it is also serious and focused. And all the students are into it.
Superb experience. My son is doing it again next year. Our best overall after school activity.
Excellent program. Superb musical instruction for kids of differing abilities and economic backgrounds. It is unbelievable how much better they sound now than at the beginning of the year!
This is an incredible and life changing music program for 5th graders. I could not believe the commitment level of my child because violin was really an after thought to her. She had been playing piano for years. After reflecting on how they captured her heart, part of it must be from the absolute respect they show to each an every student as an individual. This seems to come first, and the children reciprocate it fiercely. The love and joy of music inevitably follows. But if you ask my daughter, she says the best thing about elemental strings is that the teachers are epic.
An excellent organization that truly helps kids excel in music. It is an incredible opportunity for students to understand the dedication required to play in a high level orchestra - even as they love every minute of it!
This is the first year for our daughter Louise Koella at the Elemental String. She loves it and we do too! Great opportunity! Her private lesson plus the orchestra made her playing improve a lot.
Our son was just beginning his music education a year ago when he joined Elemental Strings, and this program is a big reason why he has fallen in love with his cello, and with orchestral music generally. Imagine an otherwise normal ten year old who practices without being reminded, who wants to take part in every optional musical event available and go to every extra session offered, and who actually spends his strictly rationed personal screen time watching film clips of professional cellists on YouTube. The proof's in the pudding. Yes, Elemental Strings is a non-profit organization, and there are occasional appeals for volunteer help and contributions from those who can afford it . But no one's getting rich there, and what they give back to the students makes Elemental Strings one of the best deals anywhere. Strongly recommended.
Both our children have played in Elemental Strings, and it's set them up for success in their private playing as well as in the middle school orchestras. Before ES, neither one of them was interested in practicing their instrument, but being in the orchestra changed that. The group of students who come up through Elemental Strings form bonds, work habits and musicianship that last them through the JAMS, Lincoln, and Samohi orchestra experience. The teaching, conducting and coaching are wonderful. It is, however, a non-profit organization, and anyone who isn't comfortable with the idea of raising money to pay professional music coaches for their time should look elsewhere. And to counter the impression of the two grousing -- and clearly related -- complaints below: all orchestras in the Santa Monica public schools are leveled, so if someone doesn't want their children to be exposed to the idea that it takes work to be a good musician, and that orchestras are hierarchical by nature, perhaps they should enroll them in a knitting class instead. Elemental Strings is a great entree to the world of orchestral music, and we're really appreciative of it. I just wish there was an organization like ES for band instruments as well!
I did Elemental Strings in 4th and 5th grade and it completely changed my perspective of orchestral music. Before i did Elemental Strings, my individual experience with the violin had been a little rough. Even though I came in the middle of the season, it made my interest in practicing grow a huge amount. The pieces were challenging and fun, and my friends in both orchestras agreed that it changed how they played. The experiences that it created have stayed with me through 6th grade, where I am now. The separation has made us prepared for middle school where there are four different orchestras for different skill levels, and has made us think about how we can become better players as individuals. My friends and I have excelled so much, and although at different skill levels still appreciate the memories and knowledge that Elemental Strings has given us.
I was a violinist in the first Elemental Strings Orchestra ever and to say it was life changing is almost and understatement. Elemental Strings is about giving elementary school string students a chance to broaden their knowledge of classical music and the instruments they play. Since then, I have continued playing the violin through middle school and high school and even reached out to other instruments like the viola, bass, and harp. I have even gone back to Elemental Strings to mentor and provide free lessons to underprivileged students. Being a musician has become part of my personality and it helped me get accepted into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a prestigious engineering university, which is only one of the many colleges I was accepted into. Playing music has been a defining factor of who I am today and if it weren't for Elemental Strings, I would never have gotten to where I am today.
I was in Elemental Strings the very first year it was created and ever since music has been part of my life. As a student we learned how play music and a orchestra and in chamber groups. We interacted with other children from other schools who also shared our interest in music and with these interactions made lifetime friends. Now as a high school student i mentor a younger member of Elemental Strings to provide free private lessons. Also during the spring session of Elemental Strings i act as a coach's aid and help teach a smaller, chamber group of students. This organization is magical and transforms lives for the better. Recently it has seen major growth and has been divided into two orchestras. i hope to see more growth in the future into the entire LA Unified School District.
Elemental Strings was a great experience for me when I was in fifth grade. It made me love being a musician in an orchestra. And now that I am a mentor for them I have been able to help other kids learn to love playing music. I wish i could still be in fifth grade because Elemental Strings was by far the best thing I have ever done with music.
It was a fight to bring my child every week, he found it extremely boring and there was virtually no time to socialize with the other children, nor did the coaches seem to encourage the making of new friends. The music they chose was boring to play and not engaging for the children. The only music that was "fun" was for children who paid an extra sum of money to stay for an extra hour the last part of the year. At the beginning of the year they had an orientation for the parents where they failed to mention that the kids would be separated into 2 orchestras rather than play in one large one. They were obviously split into advanced players and low-intermediate groups, this fact was blatantly left out at the orientation meeting. On the first day the kids in the advanced group were called specifically by name and then Dr. Jo said "all others" please report to another room. My child was very upset by this and it was highly disrespectful for the children who took the time to audition and were not even being recognized by calling their names out. The entire year we were always being asked to donate more money, which I am sure is typical for any non-profit, but it got to be excessive. The administration did not make an effort to know the kids nor the parents. The final insult was that a coach who was accused of "lewd acts" has been jailed since 2/12. This information was WITHHELD purposely from the parents. The only way we were alerted was when an article was published the last week of the program. In summary I found the administration of this program had many purposeful omissions in what they told the parents over the course of the year. I would not recommend this program, let your children enjoy their Friday afternoons. If they continue in the Santa Monica schools they will get plenty of orchestral experience. Interestingly enough my child participated in the Stairway program and he could not get to those practices fast enough, he loved it......why? The conductor was fun, he engaged the kids, promoted friendships, and they played fun music.
After sitting through a very lenghty orientation, suddenly we discovered many surpises. #1. Groups would be separated . Names were called , and the rest were referred to as "all others"go to another room. Reminiscent of times past. #2. There would be a charge for the first two concerts. #3 Very little opportunity to socialize with other children, but most aggregious was the fact that a major issue was withheld from the parents for 4 months , obviously hoping to avoid a mass exodus from the program. I would NEVER recommend it. The only saving grace was Mr. Aiello. He was very professional. I was also one of the parents who paid the full tuition plus a donation.
The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School system starts children in music in the 3rd grade. In 4th grade, they move up to 'real' instruments. Our daughter, Seraphina started with viola and quickly changed to violin. She became very driven in learning all they were teaching her and loved her teacher and the music classes. Near the end of the school year, she found out about, and auditioned for, Elemental Strings because she wanted to opportunity to play in an orchestra. Elemental Strings takes all kids in the shcool system who wish to be in the orchestra and they practice one night a week for two hours. If you look on Youtube, you can see the amount of improvement over 3 months and will be astounded. Look at the difference between the Winter and the Spring concerts! The teachers do things to make the orchestra experience 'exciting' like having 'practice-a-thons' and little contests like designing the program covers. The kids love it! And at the same time that they're having fun...they are learning and excelling while having fun! Not only are they having fun, they are learning valuable life lessons too. Our daughter is an overachiever, and learning how to be a part of an ensemble orchestra was a wonderful experience for her. In the beginning, she had a lot of trouble understanding why she couldn't be 'first' but the director, Dr. Jo, was amazing and took the time to explain to her how an orchestra worked, and what she would have to do to be 'first chair'. Instead of being diaappointed, as most kids would be, Dr. Jo phrased everyting in such a way as to inspire her to keep practicing and striving. Another wonderful part of Elemental Strings is that they fund scholarships and offer mentors to the children who cannot afford tuition. What a way to nurture talent and love of music! No only is this a wonderful organization that can and does change childrens lives - I am so impressed with how they operate, and how they motivate the children, that even tho my daughter will not be in Elemental Strings next year, I have offered to help them fundraise! What a worthy organization.
During his 6th month with Elemental Strings my 4th grade son was placed on a baseball team with a practice time that directly conflicted with ES rehearsals. He's been playing baseball for four years and loves the sport. When asked if he had to choose between baseball and ES (fortunately it worked out so he could do both), he picked Elemental Strings. He loves being part of the orchestra, making music with friends, meeting people from different schools, and working as a team to create music. He can't wait for middle school and high school when he'll be back in an orchestra with some of these kids and/or seeing their friendly faces on campus. ES gave him faith in his ability as a musician, the confidence to audition for the SMMUSD Honor Orchestra, and most importantly, the knowledge that his contribution is vital to the greater whole. I can't recommend this organization highly enough.
Our son Matías was a cello student at Elemental Strings for three years since his third grade, in addition of taking private individual music lessons, and later taking music classes at school. It was his first experience in an orchestra and since then he has played in different school orchestras. It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience. The conductor/teacher and the coaches taught him with great enthusiasm; they had the ability to integrate music education with fun and love for the music they were playing. They had a great sense of the group; the students were made aware from very early age about how what their playing related to the other students and viceversa, creating a sense of synchronization, coordination and unity which they would never have gotten with just individual music instruction. They did not just learning to play music, but also to interact with other students by turning music into means of social integration.
Matías really loved Elemental Strings and it has meant a lot to him. To have to go Friday after Friday to Elemental Strings after school during those years became an exciting part of his childhood experience. He was proud to receive a perfect attendance award at the end. We highly recommend Elemental Strings to any parent interested in having their children learn to play music. Matías will stay connected to the orchestra, either by helping the new students as a mentor or by playing in some alumni events and other activities. And we hope that it gets all the support it can, to keep educating future generations of young students.
Words can not express my sincere gratitude to the Elemental Strings program. My daughter was fortunate enough to be a part it for a year, while she was in fifth grade. It truly pushed her into another realm. She became more serious, excited and focused as a violin player. There is such a wonderful bond that these young lucky musicians build together. You can see the excitement, the pride and the drive to excel once they become part of something bigger. My daughter says to this day, that the Elemental Strings Program really helped her learn how to function in an orchestra setting which is so important for future goals and opportunities. As a parent, I will never forget the first concert we went to, featuring the Elemental Strings Program. My husband and I were in shock over how professional these youngsters sounded. There are important people and events that shape a persons life and the Elemental Strings Programs is definitely one of those. Thank you so much!!!
Elemental Strings has provided my son with an amazing musical education for the last two years. Each week the extraordinary coaches share their passion for music and the students have a chance to experience a range of musical styles. My son has enjoyed every minute he has spent with the group and has grown tremendously as a musician. Elemental Strings is a great asset to our community.
Review from Guidestar
Our daughter looks forward to Elemental Strings every week because she makes friends while learning music from dedicated and enthusiastic teachers. We have seen our daughter improve rapidly since starting with Elemental Strings. She practices on her own initiative. She even asked that we rent a cello when we were out of state over winter break because she didn't want to miss practicing. The teachers and students from Elemental Strings went as a group to UCLA's Royce Hall to see the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, which deepened the children's appreciation for classical music and gave them something to aspire to.
Elemental Strings is an inspirational organization that makes classical music education accessible and fun for children who otherwise might never have that experience. The dedication and passion of the organizers and teachers is evident in their engagement and concern for every student that participates. It's a non-profit that Santa Monica is extremely fortunate to have, particularly for those students who are financially unable to afford private lessons or even instruments. The lessons these kids are learning are so valuable that many younger siblings of current students eagerly anticipate the day when they too can be part of the orchestra.
Elemental Strings was the first orchestra I have ever been in. I remember having so much fun playing the songs and I looked forward to Elemental Strings every Friday. I wish I could still be in Elemental Strings.
‘Both our sons played in Elemental Strings and the years they spent in the program were hugely important, for their development as musicians, and as social animals. Classical music is an exacting discipline, and great fun. It’s also collaborative, and both boys are now wedded to the idea of learning more and more. So – many many thanks to Elemental Strings!’
Elemental Strings is a wonderful organization and an incredible opportunity for young children to get to play in an orchestra. My daughter loves going to practice every friday - even at the end of a busy week, she looks forward to two hours of playing music. Her playing has improved greatly and even better, she loves playing and practices because she loves it!
I have two sons who participated in Elemental Strings and it was a great experience for both of them. They were given high quality music instruction in a fun environment. It was a real sense of achievement for them to be playing music that sounded good as all the repertoire was carefully chosen to accomplish this. Music is still part of their lives as they now play in school orchestras, and for that we are grateful to Elemental Strings.
My daughter has had a wonderful experience in Elemental Strings. Elemental Strings takes place on Friday afternoons, after a full day of school, including daycare before school, and our daughter looks forward to it every week. She seems energized after spending two hours from 4-6 p.m. playing music with Elemental Strings! I think it's really helping her keep a positive attitude toward school. Thank you!
Every Friday after school was something both my girls so looked forward to--they had somewhere wonderful to come to! Elemental Strings! A place where they learned to play beautiful classical music in a big orchestra filled with lots of friends. Their coaches are the most talented teachers and are so loved by their students. My children's passion and love for music started in Elemental Strings! They are both now in middle school orchestras are very strong musicians, love music and join as many music groups as they can. Many of their good friends now are friends they made in Elemental Strings. I wish I had more children to send to the program.
In fourth grade I began playing the viola as a mandatory instrument in elementary school. In fifth grade I auditioned and was accepted into Elemental Strings. That was when the viola became more than just playing an instrument for school; it became an art. Now I'm in eighth grade and am still playing. For me the most memorable musical experiences have been in the great program called Elemental Strings. Thank you, Elemental Strings!!!