Celebrating 25 years of quality music education!

Since 1994, Smiling Strings has maintained a reputation for providing high quality music instruction for Chicago's North Side and surrounding communities. The program currently operates out of 14 schools as well as the Elston Ave. studio location (one block north of Foster.) Major concerts are held at least twice a year, even for our newcomers! The tuition is comparable, often lower, than other options in Chicago.

Besides the Director, Deborah Grimes, there are currently 8 other Faculty members, all college graduates with professional music degrees covered by a two million dollar liability policy.


As a beginning string student, there will be a lot of focus on proper technique and performing/memorizing simple folk songs and the Suzuki repertoire. By the second year (depending on age) most students then supplement their instruction with note-reading methodology such as "Essential Elements for Strings". By the 2nd or 3rd year, all students are participating in some kind of performing ensemble offered at each school or through combined groups. Ms. Grimes is also the Director and Co-founder of the Northside Youth Symphony. Though this is a distinct and separate non-profit organization, the majority of string members in this group are part of (or used to participate in) Smiling Strings. It is a wonderful outlet for students wanting a full symphonic orchestral experience.


Providing a "mommy and me" experience which introduces the joy of singing, wiggling and rhythmic activities to our very youngest students.


Always popular, Keyboard and Guitar (folk/classical) are also offered both privately and in a small group setting.  Smiling Strings has one of the few classical guitar programs offered in the Chicago Public Schools system for students as young as 1st grade!


New this year! Students will learn on smaller scale instruments called "Harpsicles" and we are very proud and excited to offer this program to small children and adults alike!