April Cooley

Swallow Hill Fiddle Instructor April Cooley

“Doing something with a friend makes it more fun.” This is how Swallow Hill Fiddle/Violin Instructor April Cooley describes why friendship is a key component to her new kids classes, Fiddle With Friends.

As someone who started playing the violin in elementary school and has taught the instrument for more than 30 years, April understands firsthand that sometimes all you need is a friend by your side learning with you.

“Knowing someone else when you walk into a new situation makes the experience easier to adjust to,” she says. “A little friendly competition is also fun.”

This summer Swallow Hill Music is offering two different Fiddle With Friends classes for students ages 8-13 at our Lowry satellite location.* One class is for beginners, and the other for advanced players. April designed the classes to get students interacting with one another to learn in a fun, low pressure setting.

Fiddle With Friends 1 – for beginners – takes place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, July 9 through August 15, from 3:45-4:45.

April says in the beginners class the “emphasis will be placed on getting a good group sound going.”

“Students will be taught to hold their instrument and bow correctly from day one and begin to produce a pleasing sound.” The group approach “allows students to feel more comfortable making sound, even if it isn’t perfect.”

The group setting also allows students to watch and learn from each other, and perhaps alleviate some of the pressure some might feel in a private lesson setting.

“We will focus on open string sounds, in various rhythm patterns, with a hoedown feeling that drives home the steady beat.”

Fiddle with Friends 2 – for advanced players takes place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, July 9 through August 15, from 4:45-5:45.

“The advanced Fiddle With Friends will be an ensemble experience,” April says.

“Many students that have played privately for awhile have not had much opportunity to play with a larger group,” she adds. The emphasis for the advanced players will be on “3 and 4 part songs allowing for ability differences in students that have played between 1 and 5 years.”

“The goal,” April says, “will be to complete 2 full songs in our 12 rehearsal schedule and perform for family and friends on the final night of class.”

Whether the student is a beginner, or already has some skills, April returns to the benefits of having friends – both new and old – along for the ride. “Playing music for each other encourages students to keep up with each other and an opportunity for them to teach each other.”

“Often children express a desire to play the violin but it is difficult to commit to private lessons,” she continues. “A quick 6 week experience that is low pressure, in a group setting is a great way to check out the string scene.”

*Swallow Hill Music’s Lowry satellite location is at 7653 E 1st Pl, Denver, CO 80230.