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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 play along and harmonise with your tutor and classmates, enjoy group and individual exercises, and lively discussion in your class and Googel Classroom forum. You should expect to play solo every so often - just a few bars or an entire piece, depending on your level. Most string courses will run in the college fom September 2021, but there will still be some online options.

Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, then it’s easy: just start at with a 1A course and work through the courses in order.

Choosing the right level for returning players

If you have p[;ayed before you can join at the level that is right for you.

Each level corresponds (roughly) to an ABRSM grade. 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 the Music Department or phone us on (020) 7492 2630 for further 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 3rd 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.

Violin and Viola

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

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

Violin and Viola 3A 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 [online]: 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 5A 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. Students often continue in advanced workshop for several terms, to explore repertoire and consolidagte technique.

Violin and Viola advanced: technique [online] will work on Grade 7 technique repertoire


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

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

Intermediate: Cello workshop is for students 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: from complete beginners to simple chords, scales and melodies

Classical Guitar 2A [onlinee] from simple chords, scales and melodies to harmonic accompaniments and ensemble pieces

Classical Guitar 3 [online] play melodies with harmonic accompaniments, improved technical skill to focus on musicality

Classical guitar: advanced [online] is for experience players, and will cover repertoire from Classical and Baroque, Spanish, Latin, and English folk song.

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


Classical guitar players are welcome in Chamber music . NB you will need to contact the music department to check your level and availability of places for your instrument. Authorisation is required for ensemble courses so that we can ensure there is an appropriate mix of instruments for the group.

Weekly classes in term time:
String ensemble: for those who play violin/viola/cello/bass  to at least grade 3 standard 
Chamber music: intermediate: grade 3 to 5 standard, confident music readers, some ensemble experience
Chamber music: advanced: confident players at grade 6 level or above, with 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. Music is provided in advance.
Orchestra workshop is for confident, experienced players of all orchestral instruments, grade 6 and above. Repertoire is announced and parts available at least 4 weeks in advance of each workshop and students are expected to study their parts before the first session. We hope to resume Orchestra workshop from December 2021.

Musicianship and music theory

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