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String Preparatory Academy

Key Information

Faculty Director: Stephen Shipps, Professor of Violin and Chair of Strings, University of Michigan

The String Preparatory Academy at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance is designed to provide the highest quality of string training to pre-college musicians available to students in elementary school through high school. All String Preparatory Academy students will participate in private weekly lessons, recitals, and outreach performances, as well as monthly masterclasses, lectures, and group classes, presented by renowned U-M string faculty, guests, and graduate students. All lessons and classes take place on the University of Michigan North Campus.

Program features:

  • 30 Weekly private lessons September - April
  • Masterclasses with world-renowned guests (pianist provided)
  • Faculty lectures
  • Recitals (pianist provided)
  • Group studio classes
  • Community performance preparation (students are encouraged to perform in the community if opportunities are available)
  • Discounts and opportunities to attend U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance performances and recitals, as well as University Musical Society performances



Danielle Belen, Associate Professor of Violin, University of Michigan

Sunmi Chang

Janet Lyu

Stephen Shipps, SPA Faculty Director and Professor of Violin and Chair of Strings, University of Michigan

Mallory Tabb, SPA Junior Division Coordinator

Kristina Zlatareva


Caroline Coade, Clinical Assistant Professor of Viola, University of Michigan

Gwendolyn Matias-Ryan


Pia Eva Greiner-Davis

Caroline Kim

Roots Music Improvisation (fiddle, guitar, mandolin):

Brad Phillips

Academy Pianists:

Cole Anderson

Carrie Chen

Mi-Eun Kim, Lead Pianist

Siyuan Li

Masterclass Instructors:

Richard Aaron, Professor of Cello, University of Michigan

Danielle Belen, Associate Professor of Music, University of Michigan

Aaron Berofsky, Associate Professor of Violin, University of Michigan

Anthony Elliott, Professor of Cello, University of Michigan

David Halen, Professor of Violin, University of Michigan

Stephen Shipps, Professor of Violin, University of Michigan

Yoonshin Song, Lecturer of Violin, University of Michigan


The String Preparatory Academy is an audition-only program for string students ages 5-18. Participation all year is required. Space is limited and instructor placement will be determined via audition results. The String Preparatory Academy does accept beginning students dependent upon teacher availability. Beginning students do not need to submit an audition video.

2017-18 SPA Student Handbook


Application & Audition

Priority Application Deadline: August 15, 2017

Notifications will be emailed by August 25, 2017 for those that apply by the priority deadline.


For priority consideration and notification, all application and audition materials must be received by the priority deadline. Applications may be accepted after the priority deadline for programs and/or instruments in which openings remain. Review, admission, and notification for late applications will be on a rolling basis. Space is limited.

To apply to the String Preparatory Academy you must complete the following three steps. Your application will not be considered complete until all three of the below requirements have been received by the Office of Youth & Adult Community Programs. Returning students need not submit an audition video, but must reapply.

  1. Register: Complete the Online Application
  2. Application Fee: $30 per student Pay by credit card, or by check/money order payable to University of Michigan. If paying by check, please send payment with a printed copy of your confirmation page to the address below:


    String Preparatory Academy
    Youth & Adult Community Programs
    Stearns Frederick Building
    2005 Baits Drive
    Ann Arbor, MI 48109

  3. Audition: Please send a 3-5 minute long recording of one or more pieces, with or without accompaniment to Please place "SPA Audition Video" as your email subject line. Please follow these upload requirements. Also attach a current repertoire list, and resume (if applicable) to your email. Beginner students need not upload a video, but must send an email stating that they are in fact a beginner for our records.

2017-18 Tuition and Fees

Application Fee (non-refundable): $30

Annual Tuition: Tuition includes 30 private lessons, masterclasses, group classes, faculty lectures, performance opportunities, and performance pianists. Tuition must be paid in advance of lessons, and may be made in monthly installments September 2017 - April 2018. All Tuition is due in full by April 27, 2018. Annual tuition for hourly lessons is based on instructor type (faculty, guest, or graduate student).

  • Tuition w/faculty: $3,725 (60 min. lessons)
  • Tuition w/faculty and guest or graduate student: $3,500 (60 min. lessons)
  • Tuition w/guest or graduate student: $2,875 (60 min. lessons)


A limited number of need-based awards are available. To apply for financial assistance, please complete the online financial aid form with your application materials. Additional documentation will be requested such as proof of unemployment, an AFDC medical card, or a statement of need from a high school counselor.


For more information about this program or any of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance Youth & Adult Community Programs, please contact the office of Youth & Adult Community Programs by e-mail at or by phone at (734)936-2660.


Roots Music Improv shipps Belen 3 Halen Masterclass 3

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower