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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Howe


Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Welcome to the first blog post of, the website where you can buy original pieces of music and folk song arrangements for beginner and learner string ensembles.

folk song arrangements for string players of all ages and abilities
Beginner string players can be all ages

In the ‘About’ section on the website I talk about the ethos and inspiration behind my music. But I feel that perhaps I should explain what I mean when I use the word ‘Beginner’ because to some teachers and players, the word ‘Beginner’ might conjure up the image of a very young child, barely able to play a note. I'm dedicating my first blog to the explanation of exactly what I mean when I say ‘String Beginner’ or ‘String Learner’.

When I say the word Beginner I don't just mean children who have only just begun to play. To me, a beginner is a child or an adult, from a total starter to a more advanced learner. I guess the term String Learner might be more appropriate to describe a more advanced beginner.

Again, I talk about the different levels of difficulty that the music encompasses in the ‘About the music’ section on the site, but since it's relevant here I'm going to include it here too. It’s important to me not to assess the difficulty of a piece by its Grade, as in the grades set by the major exam boards. So I’ve ‘graded’ my music differently: either Easy, Medium or Advanced.

In the 'About the Music’ section on the site, you can see more detailed info on how these standards work. To help further, every piece comes with performance notes that explain what happens in the music and these notes highlight any tricky technical issues that might be there.

I believe passionately that beginner and learner string players should be taught the concept of giving a good performance: one that’s in tune and together rhythmically, but full of inspiration and character. Playing in ensembles is hard for inexperienced string players. But I also know that some players, children and their parents use only the results of exams as a marker of what standard of music they, or their children, should be playing. The problem arises when learners don’t want to play music that they think is too easy and beneath them. I understand that young instrumentalists need a challenge now and then. But simply playing in an ensemble is a challenge in itself because when you play with others you have to play in time and in tune with everyone. It’s no longer just about you. You have to listen and come out of yourself and become part of the whole and that’s not easy for inexperienced string players.

So that’s why I wanted to create my own system of deciding how easy or hard a piece is. For me it’s about getting a balance between the players in an ensemble being challenged technically with a piece of music, while still being able to produce the best possible ensemble performance. To achieve that balance it sometimes means that the players need to play a piece that is technically easier than they are used to, in order to create that epic performance we all want to hear.

If you have any queries or questions please do not hesitate to contact me at:

I’ll keep you posted at the start of each blog about any new pieces of music in the works, and any interesting website news. The site now has a YouTube channel and so we’ll start adding videos. I’m writing some new music, pieces for very early beginners, simple duets and trios for them to enjoy. I’m also working on a new kind of ensemble piece. It’s a big idea and a big project but I’m very excited about it and I’ll tell you all about it soon!

In my next blog I’m going to talk about why I decided to include the folk song arrangements and a little about the arrangements that are on the site already.

Until then, happy playing!


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