Who We Are/ What We Do/ Supplies Needed

Who We Are:


Free Music School :

We  are a group of volunteer "music mentors" who provide free, weekly, instrumental music lessons to students in grades 4-12.  Basically, we get together once a week, on Friday afternoons during the school year, to teach students how to play a musical instrument.  We currently offer instruction on violin, trumpet, flute, clarinet, sax, trombone, baritone, or tuba.  (Students choose ONE instrument to learn to play. )  


In order to join our program, students must be in 4th-12th grade and attend our welcome session with their parent/ guardian, which takes place on  August 28th at 4 pm.  We do not charge any fees to participate in our program, but parents must provide the instrument --renting from a local music store is recommended -- the instruction book and a portable music stand. (Details below.)

Please note:  we are NOT a  "low-income" program, we are an "every income" program :)  Due to generous community donations, we do have a small number of instruments to lend students free of charge if needed.  

Prompt and perfect attendance is expected from all of our participants:  the cost of admission is commitment!  If you are late you will not be able to register or attend class.  Period.   We do not have time to re-teach important information to late or absent students -- it holds back the rest of the class.  Please do not apply to our program if you will not be able to make it on time, every time.  Thank you for your understanding.  

If you have a student who may be interested in joining our program, please see some of the additional details below.  

Classes are held on Friday afternoons, for half-hour group sessions:
Music Theory - required for all beginning students:  4-4:30pm
Beginning : 4:30-5pm
Intermediate:  5-5:30pm
Advanced (by teacher recommendation only):  5:30-6pm.  

Classes begin the week following the orientation session.  Most of our new students will be in theory and beginning class (4-5 pm)  Music Theory is about learning how to read notes:  whole, half, quarter, eighth, etc.  Students are not expected to know ANY music theory, but, if they already know the basic elements of reading music, they will have an opportunity to "test out" of the theory class after the first few meetings.  Also, students who do not learn how to read notes during the first year will be expected to attend again the following year.  This will be discussed at the opening session.

Every student in grades 4-12 who would like to learn to play a musical instrument, and is dedicated to attending EVERY week and practicing at home is encouraged to join our program.  

FOURTH GRADERS:  We use the following age chart to determine eligibility for our youngest students:   https://www.pausd.org/registration/grade-placement   if your child does not meet the 4th grade requirement on this chart, please wait for the correct year to register them.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  Parents who attempt to bypass this detail will have their child's eligibility permanently withdrawn from our program due to safety concerns.  (Which means, don't ask your 7 or 8 year old to lie about their age or they will never be able to attend our program-- I know, YOU would never do that, but there are always 1-2.....I just want to make sure that it's clear to them before they show up to the registration session.  We don't want to waste anyone's time.)

Classes are held at:

Almaden Hills United Methodist Church, 1200 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose

Registration for new, beginning students will occur on Friday, August 30th at 4 pm, sharp!  This meeting is mandatory, no exceptions!  If you arrive after 4 pm you will need to wait until the following year to enroll.  Both students and parents should attend.  This session is the one time during the year where we talk about program details, expectations of students /parents/ mentors, introduce the instruments available and  show the students  where  there classes will be.  The orientation will last approximately 1 1/2 hours, after which we will answer all student and parental questions on a one-on-one basis.  

We do NOT have a sign-up form.  Again, we are a group of volunteers who meet for 2 hrs/week to teach music.   Every eligible student who attends our welcome session with their parent/guardian and  agrees to abide by all of our rules and expectations will be accepted into our program.  Many families will not be able to accommodate our expectations, so our participation numbers will drop after the first 2-3 weeks.  That's ok, we understand that this is not the right program for everyone, and we wish you well in finding a more appropriate program.  

Our curriculum is similar to that taught in public school music programs for grades  4-9.  Our  beginning classes are for true beginners.  Our intermediate music is approximately at the middle-school level and our advanced program is in the  early high school level.  We love to work with beginners and introduce them to the joy and fun of playing music as a team.  If your student is a musical genius, this is probably NOT the program for them.   

About 1/2 of our program is for beginning students, and the other 1/2 is for students who love to come and play at FMS.  Many of our middle school students attend for extra rehearsal time.   All of our students enjoy our low-pressure, group atmosphere.  It's fun.  We want to share music with each other -- that's why we're all here, both students and mentors alike. Please contact us for more information.  Also, ALL participants must fill out the registration form , agree to follow all of our rules and check-in with Mrs.Love as we need to know who is with us :)   Thank you!

We also welcome new music-mentor volunteers -- please contact us for more information!



Supplies Needed


"All of your Supplies"

Here is a list of supplies that each student will need at every session after the first 2 weeks of class.  You DO NOT need any supplies when you attend our registration session, and you will have 1-2 weeks to get what you need before we really get going.  After that, you will need all of the following.  

Instruction Book:

If your student plays violin, they will need the book

 "Strictly Strings, Violin, book #1". 


If your student is in Band, they will need "Standards of Excellence" by Bruce Pearson, book one -- the red book -- for their instrument.

  For example:  book 1 trumpet.


These books are available at Music Village, musiciansfriend.com  or Amazon.com.  They are about $10/each.  

The "enhanced" version is unnecessary....it just includes a play-along CD.  Most of the exercises can be played-along on YouTube.  

Portable Music Stand -- with label

Every student will need their own portable music stand.  They MUST bring it to every rehearsal, as they can't play without it!   Portable music stands are available at Music Village or musiciansfriend.com  for $10-$25. 


Please make sure your student practices putting the stand together so that they can do it confidently in class.  Also, please put a tape label on your stand somewhere where the folding/unfolding won't remove it.  All students have the same stand, so a label is very important.  We are not responsible for lost/broken/misplaced stands.  


Please rent an instrument from a local music store.  I love Music Village, but you can also rent from the Starving Musician or other local music store.  Rental fees should be about $30/month.  Please purchase the insurance plan and the care kit.  Music Village offers a "rent to own" program and the other stores may do so as well.  

Please DO NOT but a musical instrument off of Amazon unless you plan on paying over $600 for it.  Anything in the $100-$300 range is junk and will fall apart.  

Also, please do not purchase an instrument for your student until after they have played for 2-3 years and shown some commitment.  Many students will decide to change instruments after the first year (I did!), so we don't want to put pressure on them to stick to one instrument.  


Every musician needs a pencil, ready to go.  We write notes on our notes :)  Students should circle the goals for the week and the exercises we are working on.  They will also need to note the songs that we are working on for the concert.  


Clarinet and Saxophone students will need to purchase "reeds", at lease 3-5 but the 10-pack is a good buy.  They should each last between 1-3 weeks, although some beginners go through a few as they are learning not to touch or chew on them.  

4th grade beginners will need a size 1 and 1/2. 

All other beginners should purchase a size "2".  


Sizes go up after about 6 months of playing, so in the spring, older beginners will need a size 

2 1/2, then maybe a 3.  Reeds become more difficult to play as they number goes up, but they also allow for a larger range of notes.  Beginners should never play on a size 3 as it will be almost impossible for them to make a pleasant sound with it. 

Reeds can mold and should not be left on instruments, but returned to their plastic case after each practice session.  Once reeds break, chip or fray, they should be thrown away. 

Violin students (intermediate and above) are encouraged to purchase their own bow -- check to see if your student has a 1/2, 3/4 or full size 4/4 first!


 and, a simple tuner, such as the SNARK: