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American String Teachers Association Conference

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Two of our BMP directors, Lisa Sailer and Deborah Apple recently traveled to Albuquerque, NM to attend The American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Conference. From their experience it was a whirlwind of informative and invigorating sessions. Here are few highlights from Ms. Apple, the director of Sibelius Orchestra, and Ms. Sailer, the director of Rimsky Orchestra.

"The keynote address was delivered by someone from our very own city of Boston: Dr. Lisa Wong, who has an incredibly widespread career that includes being a pediatrician, professor at Harvard Medical School, violinist, violist, pianist, board member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Conservatory Lab Charter School, and author of the book Scales to Scalpels: Doctors who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine. She gave a compelling talk on the healing properties of music which opened the whole conference.

My favorite workshops was led by the Gilbert Town Fiddlers of Gilbert, AZ, was all about student-led arranging. This engaging presentation was led by the (high school-aged) students—not by the teachers—which was so refreshing to see! They played a few sets of fiddle tunes they had arranged by themselves with only light guidance from their teachers, then demonstrated how they go about doing this in their rehearsals. They discussed the social skills that the individual members need to have in order for the group to function, as well as some more technical aspects of arranging a piece for a string ensemble.

Thursday night violinist Rachel Barton Pine presented a two hour performance "From Bach to Black Sabbath.” Her versatility in playing was impressive to say the least. We particularly enjoyed the segment where she performed works by Black composers and showcased duets with her seven year old daughter playing pieces from her new violin book "Music by Black Composers.” We are looking forward to using this book to expand the repertoire we use with all our students.

Games in the classroom seemed to be a theme at the conference this year. We attended several sessions presenting ways to make orchestra classes of all ages more engaging and productive for both students and teachers.

Finally, Shar Music presented a session on basic instrument repairs. As the instrument coordinator this year, I [Ms. Apple] look forward to using this new knowledge to keep our instruments in working order and played by the students, not at the repair shop as often!"

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