Image of violin scrolls

Choosing a String class at City Lit

14 August 2019
Posted in: Courses

Choosing a String class at City Lit

We offer a range of string classes, from complete beginners to Chamber music and Orchestra workshops, so there’s sure to be a class that’s right for you here in the heart of Covent Garden.

Group Learning Online

Learning in a group is great fun. You will find lively discussion, group and individual exercises, playing along and harmonising with your tutor and keep good company in your class online. While all courses are currently being taught online you should expect to play solo every so often – just a few bars or an entire piece depending on your course.

Tech Tips

For all online instrumental courses at City Lit you will be joining the class via Zoom plus logging onto Google Classroom to access and interact with resources. To get the best experience with Zoom, it is recommended you download the Zoom application on your computer or mobile device and enable "Original Sound". If you haven't already, you will need to create a free account with Zoom using your personal email address so that you have access to the full range of features such as Original Sound.

Computer instructions

Go to Settings> Audio> Advanced
turn on “Show in-meeting option to 'Enable Original Sound'”

also on a computer,
Go to Settings> Audio> 
turn off "automatically adjust microphone volume"

Mobile instructions

Sign out and sign back in to the Zoom mobile app (to enable recent update).
Tap Settings> Meeting>
Tap the toggle to "Use Original Sound"


Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, new to playing the Violin, Viola, Cello or Classical Guitar, and new to reading music notation, then it’s easy: just start at the very beginning with the 1A course and work through the courses in the order listed below.  If you have any questions please email us and we’ll be happy to help.

Choosing the right level for returning players

If you have existing playing skills you don’t need to start at the very beginning: just join us at the correct level for you.

Each level corresponds (roughly) to an ABRSM grade. So for example, Violin and viola level 3 is roughly grade 3 standard repertoire and technique. If you look at ABRSM syllabuses (for Bowed strings and Classical guitar) you will get an idea of what each level is learning to play. You may also be interested in our Ensemble classes (see below).

Please check the individual course outlines for more details of the books for each class, as gives you a clear indication of the level of a class.

If you are unsure of your current level, please email or phone us (020 7482 2630) and make an appointment to come and play to us for some advice.

Changing classes

In the first couple of weeks, if you feel that the class you have chosen is not the right level for you, you may move to a different course. You can do this online, by logging into your City Lit account (quickest method), or phone Enrolments on (020) 7831 7831. 
NB you must lodge your request in writing before the third session of your course.

If you begin to find the level is unsuitable later on in your course then don’t worry, there will still be plenty to learn and you can then choose a more appropriate level the following term. That’s the idea of the short course modules: they allow flexibility because everyone learns at different speeds. Please ask your tutor for advice if you are not sure whether you’ve chosen the right course.

If you have any doubts at all, please contact us to arrange an advice session. Bring some music, play us a piece and we’ll help you choose.


Violin and Viola

Please note Violin and Viola 1A has been deferred until it is safe to be delivered back in the City Lit building

Violin and Viola 1A, 1B, 1C from complete beginners to simple scales and pieces, including basic music-reading 

Violin and Viola 2A, 2B, 2C from simple scales and pieces around grade 1 level to grade 2 repertoire

Violin and Viola 3A, 3B, 3C achieve fluency at a grade 2 level and then begin some grade 3 material, learning to play in 3rd position and improve your music reading further

Violin and Viola 4A, 4B, 4C achieve fluency at a grade 3 level and move on to grade 4 material, including higher positions, vibrato and a wider range of bowing techniques


Violin and Viola level 5 is for those keen to keep studying in a teacher-led environment with a structured syllabus, and focus on developing technique further

Violin and Viola advanced workshop is for those with a secure basic technique and who have good musicianship and independent learning skills, keen to work on repertoire 


Please note Cello 1A and 2A have been deferred until it is safe to be deliver them back in the City Lit building

Cello 1A, 1B, 1C from complete beginners to simple scales and pieces including reading the bass clef.

Cello 2A, 2B, 2C from simple scales and pieces around grade 1 level to grade 2/3 repertoire

Intermediate: Cello workshop is for student playing at Grade 3 standard. Students typically spend two years in this level before progressing to advanced

Advanced: Cello: advanced workshop is for students who have been playing for at least 4 years, at grade 5 standard and above. Students often continue in Advanced workshop for more two or more years to explore repertoire and consolidate technique 

Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar 1A, 1B, 1C: from complete beginners to simple chords, scales and melodies

Classical Guitar 2A, 2B, 2C: from simple chords, scales and melodies to harmonic accompaniments and ensemble pieces

Classical Guitar 3A, 3B, 3C: play melodies with harmonic accompaniments, improved technical skill to focus on musicality

Flamenco guitar: for classical guitarists to learn the specialist techniques required to play flamenco


Please note all ensemble courses have been deferred until it is safe to deliver them back in the City Lit building

Our ensemble classes come in a variety of forms: weekly, intensive and short courses. Course accommodate those with 1-2 years' playing experience through to advanced, in strings-only, mixed-instrument chamber music, and chamber orchestra. Classical guitar players are welcome in Chamber music classes.
NB you will need to contact the music department to check your level and availability of places for your instrument

Weekly classes in term time:
String ensemble: for those who have been playing a bowed string instrument for at least a year
Chamber music 1: grade 3 to 5 standard, confident music readers
Chamber music 2: grade 4 to 6 standard, confident music readers, some ensemble experience
Chamber music: advanced: confident grade 6 or above, good sight-reading skills and ensemble experience

Intensive / short courses:
String Schools: for players of bowed strings at grade 3 and above, a chance to play in a large ensemble and improve your musicianship and sight-reading
Orchestra workshop: for confident, experience players of all orchestral instruments, grade 6 and above (repertoire announced c. 2 months in advance of each workshop - please check the course outline)

Musicianship and music theory

Why not take a complementary course to enhance your understanding of musical skills and musical notation. Please see our Musicianship and music theory programme for further information.