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About us

Since opening our doors in 1995, we have become the largest Colourstrings centre in the UK, with some  parents travelling from as far as Kent and Buckinghamshire to bring their children to classes.  We use the Kodály-Szilvay approach to teaching music, which builds organically from things young children already naturally do and know, like calling out 'Mummy', for example.  Through activities such as singing, rhythm games, playing instruments and dancing, they learn the building blocks of music; using their voices, they learn pitch and rhythm, always in a way that makes it fun and engaging.  We teach children to switch their ears on and listen to music for its own sake: this helps form both an emotional response and a mental store of familiar music.

A child being taught a rhythym game by his teacher, both smiling

What we offer

We offer music kindergarten classes from 6 months to 6 years of age in banded age groups at seven locations across North London in postcodes N1, N6, N10, N11 and NW4. Children who complete the after-school classes will usually achieve musically an approximate level expected at Key Stage 2 (11 years).  Their ear should be developing sufficiently through solfa (DO-RE-MI) that they can write down simple music they hear, and hear in their heads simple music they see written down - a very desirable skill for musicians.  They are thus well-placed to be successful in learning an instrument if they wish.

Kindergarten children playing a dancing game to music

Our Approach

A toddler and parent clapping as part of a rhythm game

Colourstrings is a fully integrated approach to music education for young children, which was developed by Hungarian-born violinist and pedagogue Dr Géza Szilvay, and our Principal was one of the fortunate teachers who was able to study the method intensively alongside Dr Szilvay in the early 1990's.  Based firmly on Kodály principles, the approach starts in Music Kindergarten, taking the young child on a wonderful adventure through the world of music, where their sense of pitch and rhythm are developed alongside the training of the inner ear. The younger they start, the better.

Basic musical concepts such as high/low, loud/soft, fast/slow are introduced but always within the framework of age-appropriate games and activities. Pulse is established, upon which rhythm skills are developed.  Maracas, claves, bells and drums (and with older groups tuned percussion in the form of chime bars) all play a part in the weekly sessions; singing, rhymes, games, dancing, movement to music and listening all form a predictable and satisfying routine that children get to know and love.

Repertoire consists of British folk songs such as Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Sing a Song of Sixpence and all the old favourites, as well as songs from the wider European and world tradition. The core Colourstrings repertoire draws from the simplest examples and gradually works towards more complex tone sets and rhythm patterns. Favourite songs from the kindergarten reappear like old friends in the Colourstrings instrumental tutor books, bringing a strong motivational aspect to the instrumental learning.

Going further

After completing their Kindergarten education, our students can progress to the junior and senior schools of the Conservatoire. Here they will learn instruments, undertake musicianship classes, perform in concerts, choirs and ensembles and take part in other group activiies such as chamber music and masterclasses.  Our Kindergarten pupils go on to have rewarding experiences in the musical world, their music kindergarten education playing a key role in their future successes.  Most of our students reach a very high standard on their instruments and will become very skilled amateurs (typically Grade 7-8 standard by 13 years or earlier).  We have a history of successful entry to The Royal Academy and Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban, Guildhall, Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Birmingham Conservatoires, as well as to university study. Roughly 10% go on to pursue a career in the music profession, with many more retaining a lifelong love for music.

An older girl playing the violin in her lesson

See more about our comprehensive musical education programmes for older children here!

Our Philosophy

A letter from Deborah Harris, Principal

It is one of the greatest privileges and pleasures to be able to play a part, year after year, in the musical and personal development of so many individuals, from the tiniest babies to enormous, wonderful teenagers, as they all progress through their musical careers in this school, developing into fine musicians who relish performing and sharing music with others as they go.

We believe in creating a positive environment where everyone feels valued - not just the learners, but the whole family, the teachers and the admin staff: a happy and positive teacher is more likely to inspire a child; a happy and positive and inspired child is more likely to succeed in whatever s/he undertakes; a happy office staff will do their utmost to help and support.   I know my colleagues at the school feel the same way as I do: that teaching is extremely important and that with the Kodály and Colourstrings approaches, we can achieve the highest standards.  To encourage and assist, advise and nurture the younger generation is, I believe, one of the most fulfilling roles an adult can have in this world and to do it through music, for which I and my colleagues have a particular passion, is truly wonderful.


At the NLC, it is not our primary aim to raise a generation of professional musicians for the future, although a number of them will continue to go into the profession each year; more, it is to raise a generation of players who can achieve anything they wish to on their instrument, who will attend concerts with pleasure, who will raise their own children to have a love of music and the ability to play an instrument, and to use music as a social, emotional and artistic gift for life.


You may have come to this site because you have heard about Colourstrings from a friend or colleague, or because you found it by accident... Whatever the reason, I hope that you will find in its pages an understanding of what we are about.... First and foremost, we love music and we love children: to be able to help children, and many grown-ups, learn about music in a simple and effective way is our aim and our endeavour.


We do seriously believe that music is available to virtually everyone: our aim is to encourage a love of music in all the children that pass through our doors and to help any who wish to, to become proficient in an instrument so that they have the potential to play and enjoy music for life.  

There is a tendency these days to value things outside ourselves more than we value the things within.  Acquisition of material objects does not necessarily make us happy in the long term, though it may satisfy us temporarily... However, acquisition of skills, and in particular, of musical skills and nurturing of talent, can allow us to understand ourselves and ‘shed light on those parts of the soul that cannot be reached by any other means” (Zoltán Kodály).  It can make us strive for perfection, teaching us along the way the merits of self-discipline and team-work and creating in us an authentic sense of self; it can raise our self-esteem and increase confidence in our resilience and our ability to shape things and to tackle challenges the world may throw at us.  It also gives, through its beauty, a tacit understanding of humanity and the highest human endeavours.


I have heard it said that Colourstrings is a bit like a cult ... If by this, it is meant that some people who are very passionate about something they believe in are helping others to achieve something joyful, then I would concur…In other respects, I would disagree!  Colourstrings is not the only way to learn music, but it is a very enjoyable and successful approach and those that do it have the strong possibility of achieving something wonderful for their children’s lifetimes and potentially, for their children’s children’s lifetimes.  


Why not come along to a concert to sample the positive atmosphere for yourself?


I hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you to Colourstrings very soon.

Deborah Harris

"With music, one's whole future life is brightened ... Music should belong to everyone"  - Zoltán Kodály

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