The Frederick String Initiative is an inclusive, grassroots, and community based program. Historically, all successful string programs have two major components; private lessons and an ensemble/group class. This format had its seed in the European tradition and became a component of the Suzuki and the El Sistema movements. Students can learn a lot from each other playing with their friends. The main focus of ensemble class at FSI are the Elementary and early Middle School students.
Elementary and early Middle school students are strongly encouraged to participate in the ensemble/group classes. Ensemble class compliments private lessons and is a big part of student development. Middle school and high school students are encouraged to explore a youth orchestra. Sometimes, FSI will have a guest artist to visit with the students during ensemble class.
In addition to playing in ensembles with their peers, students have the opportunity to perform solos in preparation for the solo recital, ASTACAP exams, and various auditions like orchestra auditions, solo and ensemble, and all-county and all state orchestra. Students also work on their note reading and sight reading skills. Important to the success of the class is a close connection to the private lessons. Students study their pieces in their private lessons first and then rehearse together about twice a month. Technique learned for solo pieces is applied to the ensemble music. When they rehearse with their friends, a collective understanding of form and movement begins to develop. In addition to traditional pieces, students explore a variety of music including rounds, waltzes, and popular tunes.