How much does it cost?

Tuition starts at $450 per semester for beginners starting in group lessons. This is the most economical way to get
started. This option is, however, not generally available for older students. Individual lessons start at around $760 per semester, depending on the teacher. All semester fees include 16 lessons plus 7 – 8 repertory classes. For more detailed tuition information, please contact us.

What are your policies?

All families enrolled at the Sue Mann Violin Studio must agree to the SMV Studio Policy upon registration.
Make-up lesson policy for individual lessons

Lessons canceled by the teacher will be made up.

The teacher, at his or her discretion, may offer ONE make up lesson per semester per student for an excused absence. If the teacher’s schedule is completely full, a make up lesson cannot be guaranteed. An excused absence is for acute illness, family emergency or a mandatory school activity only. The teacher needs to be informed well enough in advance to be able to make other arrangements with the student’s lesson time. At least 24 hours advance notice should be given. If you know in advance that you will not be able to attend a lesson, we recommend trying to trade lesson times with another student. (See “Trading Lesson Times” below).

Missed semi-private, group or repertory classes will not be made up, unless canceled by the teacher. If one participant in a semi-private configuration has to cancel, the other student present will receive a 15-minute lesson, not 30 minutes.

In the case of back-to-back siblings when one sibling cannot come to the lesson, the teacher may or may not agree to the parent’s request to have the child who is present take part or all of the absent sibling’s lesson time.

Lessons that are missed during the last 3 weeks of semester will not be made up, regardless of the reason for cancellation.

Family vacations, non-school-related activities, birthday parties, last-minute cancellations etc. are not considered to be excused absences and will not be made up.

A make up lesson, once scheduled, will not be re-scheduled and will be forfeited if missed.

Missed summer lessons will neither be made up nor re-scheduled.

Student Illness

No students should attend lessons when sick (i.e. fever, nausea, coughing, etc.). SMV reserves the right to dismiss a student from a scheduled lesson if the student arrives at that lesson exhibiting possible symptoms of illness. In this case, no make up lesson will be offered.

Trading Lesson Times

Some teachers may elect to allow students within their studios to trade lesson times in the event of a preplanned absence.

This policy is meant to be used sparingly. The implementation of this policy is left up to each individual teacher.
If the teacher opts to participate, his/her lesson schedule will be posted on the private parent site, and students are allowed to trade lesson times with each other if they adhere to the following guidelines.

  • The overall lesson length must be equal. A student with a 30-minute lesson slot may only trade with another student taking a 30-minute lesson, etc.
  • The lesson’s start time must be made clear to both parties.
  • The teacher should be informed at least 24 hours in advance of the lesson trade.
Repertory Class Attendance

We require regular attendance at the repertory classes, which are an integral part of our teaching program. We realize that some students are involved in sports (or other) activities which also take place on Saturday mornings, and that the coaches also expect regular attendance at their events. If the sports (or other) activities regularly take priority over the violin classes, rehearsals, and our other activities, then we may be forced to ask the student to consider another violin program where this won’t be an issue. Not only does the student miss out on valuable ensemble practice by irregular attendance, but s/he will not have the necessary rehearsal time to perform the pieces s/he has been working on in the lessons in our group performances. And ultimately the quality of group performances suffers. There are usually 7 or 8 repertory classes per semester. If a student misses more than 2 of these, then s/he will not be allowed to participate in performances. If a student arrives late to or leaves early from more than 2 repertory classes, thus missing important portions of the class, then s/he will not be allowed to perform the pieces missed.
Ultimately, missing too many repertory classes may lead to not being allowed to re-register the following semester.

Parental Attendance and Supervision of Students at lessons and repertory classes

Parental involvement and attendance is required from arrival through departure for all students under the age of 12. Parents may not drop off children and leave them unattended, even with a teacher in the room. The parent who practices with the child is expected to be at all weekly lessons. In the case of beginning/folk tune level students, the parent who practices with the student at home is also expected to attend the repertory classes.

Parents of students older than 12, while not required to be at the lessons and repertory classes, are encouraged to do so. At the very least, please plan to attend at least three lessons each semester to observe the dynamics of the lesson and the student’s progress. SMV’s teachers are not responsible for unattended students. Parents of children older than 12 who opt to drop their children off and leave them unsupervised during the repertory classes agree that they will not hold SMV nor MSW liable for any personal injuries, accidents, incidents or damage incurred while the children are on the premises. Said parents realize that SMV’s teachers are involved in instructional activities and are not responsible for supervision of their children.
Please pick up your child promptly. If students are still waiting for their parents by the time the teacher is finished and needs to leave the premises, an automatic charge of $1 per minute will be incurred for the time that the teacher spends waiting for the parent to arrive. Parents are expected to provide a supportive atmosphere for student practice in the home.

Siblings in the Lesson

Please do NOT bring younger siblings of beginner students to the lesson.
Siblings of students who are advanced enough not to require active participation of the parent may be brought only if they can be quiet during the duration of the lesson.
If children not in the lesson become disruptive, prohibiting the effectiveness of the lesson, the teacher has the right to end the lesson early.


Videotaping of lessons and repertory classes for personal use as an aid for practicing is allowed and even encouraged; however NO public posting (i.e. YouTube or similar sites) is permitted, including videotaping of performances. As the musical director of Magical Strings West, Sue Mann reserves the right, together with the other board members, to determine whether performances or segments thereof may be posted under certain circumstances. Any public images/videos of our students that have been posted publicly without explicit permission of SMV must be removed.


All students and parents/guardians (of those students under 18 years of age) give permission to Sue Mann Violin and Magical Strings West for the student’s image (including sound recording) to be used in promotional materials, marketing brochures, posters, flyers, video and televised publicity, the Sue Mann Violin as well as Magical Strings West websites, programs, and performances, without restriction as to changes or alterations. Students and parents/guardians waive any right to inspect or approve image(s), sound, or finished versions incorporating images or sound, including any written copy that may appear in connection therewith. Students and parents agree that Sue Mann owns the copyright for these images and sounds, and waive any claims they may have based on any usage of the images or sound (recordings).


All families with access to the private sites My Music Staff and Shutterfly (Violin With Sue Mann) are strictly prohibited from sharing any information and files with parties outside the site.


Parents, legal guardians of minors, students and adult students waive the right to any legal action for any personal injuries, accidents, incidents or damage incurred sustained on studio property resulting from normal lesson activity or any other activity conducted by the students before, during, or after lesson time.

Violins – Where and how do I obtain one?

Options for renting or purchasing a violin are plentifold.

Here are some guidelines for acquiring an instrument:

  • Consult with your teacher before acquiring a violin – do not attempt this on your own!
  • Sizing the violin correctly is of utmost importance. Most shops will size the violin too large. The people running the shops generally are not teachers; they are sales people. Do not allow the shop to talk you into a size larger than recommended by your teacher. We prefer the violins to be a bit too small rather than a bit too large. The bows, on the other hand, may be a bit on the longer size.
  • Do not buy on eBay or anywhere where you cannot return the instrument. A reputable music shop will let you return the violin if it is not the right one.
  • Having a decent bow is just as important as having a decent violin. We prefer the carbon fiber bows; they are relatively inexpensive and do not have the problems with breakage and warping that cheap wooden bows might have.

Instruments can be rented or purchased, and either option seems to work just fine for most families. Violins that have been purchased and eventually outgrown can either be sold within our program, or they can be turned back into the shop for a larger size. Most shops have buy-back programs.

There are many local shops to choose from, plus some reputable online options. I do not receive a commission from any of the following businesses, but they are listed because our students have had favorable experiences with them. The list is by no means complete.
You can start by checking these websites for pricing and policies.

Heaney Violins in Mountain View – relatively close in proximity to our studio. This is where most of our students do business.

Sono Strings in Mountain View.

Scott Cao Workshop in Campbell.

Clocktower Music in San Carlos.

Shar Music – a reputable mail order company that has been around for decades.

Please email us if you would like to see any additional businesses listed here.

What is the best age to start lessons?

It all depends on whom you ask! Different teachers will give different answers. Here’s Sue’s:

My favorite age for starting beginners is generally between ages 3 and 5. One reason is that I find it easiest for the families to establish practice routines if the children have not yet started school. By the time the children start school, they often do not remember ever NOT having played!

Another reason I enjoy this age group is that they not only accept instruction but are eager for it. In addition, they are “mould-able”, both physically and mentally, whereas older beginners seem to have developed an inherent stiffness that takes much more time and conscious effort to eliminate. Many 3-year-olds, however, are not yet ready for formal instruction. Sometimes I advise parents to wait half a year or so, if it appears the child is not quite mature enough. Having an interest in music and being ready for instruction are two completely different things!

When do the children start reading music?

The students are taught to read music as soon as they are ready, including having mastered basic position and techniques.

Some children can be taught note-reading as young as age 4, some not until age 5 or 6 or even a bit older, depending on the age they start lessons.

Does the parent have to be present at the lesson? May the nanny/spouse/grandparent/neighbor bring my

child instead?

The parent of a beginner is expected to be at every lesson and repertory class. The parent who comes to the lessons should be the same parent who practices with the child at home.

The beginning lessons are devoted to making sure that the parent understands how to practice with the child. In the
beginning stages, you the parent will be actively participating in the lesson, so please do not bring siblings who need your attention. Your help is essential for establishing a good foundation in terms of position and basics of technique. You will be shown everything you need to know. Most parents with beginning children in the program do not have any background in violin; a background in music is absolutely not necessary.

Once the student has progressed beyond the beginner repertory level, parents are no longer required to be present during the repertory classes, but we request that you continue to be present in the lessons if possible until the teacher and the parent agree that it is no longer necessary.

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