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Kid Stuff: Best Music Lessons

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It's a typical Sunday morning at the Lucy Moses School (129 West 67th Street; 501-3360) near Lincoln Center. The halls are abuzz with children and parents. In various rooms, a young string ensemble is rehearsing, preschoolers are walking through hoops and playing rhythm games, and Wu Han, a world-renowned pianist, is receiving instruction from a Suzuki violin teacher while her daughter watches, eagerly awaiting her turn. This 45-year-old institution provides beginner piano, violin, and cello classes for kids starting at age 4 or 5. Fiona Simon, violinist with the New York Philharmonic, particularly recommends Dalcroze Eurhythmics classes: "For young children who may not have the necessary focus, it's a great way to learn musical concepts and ideas using your whole body. And it translates wonderfully when they pick up an instrument." In addition, you'll also find a professionally accomplished faculty, a library, and the Merkin Concert Hall for performances. Musicianship classes, as well as participation in an ensemble in conjunction with group or private instruction, are strongly encouraged. At Louise Behrend's School For Strings (419 West 54th Street; 315-0915), which accepts kids as young as 3, Suzuki has been the approach for nearly 30 years. Parental participation is required: You are expected to learn the instrument, attend classes, and be the "home" teacher. "There's a sense of community, because parents are so committed and the kids are playing together at an early age," says chef and restaurateur Anne Rosenzweig, who attends with her 7-year-old cellist, Lily. The beginners' four-part program for violin, cello, or piano consists of a weekly individual lesson (30 minutes), group playing class, theory or musicianship class, and adult instruction. Mannes College Preparatory Division (150 West 85th Street; 580-0210, extension 242), like Lucy Moses, offers modified Suzuki classes and traditional one-on-one or group lessons and music theory. There are also orchestras and ensembles. Although Mannes is a larger and somewhat less intimate environment than Lucy Moses and School for Strings, it has advantages -- a library, performance hall, and the opportunity to see older kids play, which is inspirational to beginners, explains prep-division director Sue Anne Kahn.


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