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String Educators Workshop

June 20-22, 2019

Michael Hopkins, University of Michigan

The University of Michigan String Educators Workshop, led by Dr. Michael Hopkins, is designed to meet the needs of the variety of educators who are responsible for teaching strings.

The workshop contains two tracks. Participants are welcome to take classes in one track, or switch between tracks throughout the day.

The No Previous Experience (NPE) Track is for those with a band or choral background and others with little background in strings that find themselves assigned to teach orchestra. Instruments are provided, and we will start from the very beginning in an open, friendly, non-intimidating environment. The classes in the NPE track are all designed so participants learn to effectively teach beginning and intermediate string classes.

NPE Topics:

  • Learn to hold the bow and produce a beautiful tone
  • Learn to execute and teach different articulations and bow strokes
  • Learn to teach all left-hand positions, create good finger placement
  • Learn about special considerations for double bass – the differences and similarities with the other strings.
  • The ASTA National String Curriculum – learn how to use this resource to structure your school orchestra curriculum and inform your teaching practice.
  • Get recommendations from our experienced faculty about tried and true materials to use with your string program, including method books, supplementary classroom materials, chamber music and orchestral repertoire.
  • Learn how to create fingerings, understand fingerboard positions and teach students to play with vibrato
  • Experienced Track is for string principals and experienced orchestra teachers who want to continue to develop their secondary instrument, rehearsal and conducting skills, and expand their knowledge of string repertoire and pedagogy. Please bring your principal instrument. Secondary instruments are provided.

Experienced Track Topics:

  • Intermediate and advanced secondary instrument study on violin, viola, cello and double bass
  • Rehearsal Lab – Learn strategies for rehearsing orchestras to improve tone quality, intonation, rhythm, and expression. Learn how to take your orchestra from good to great and deliver high-quality artistic performances!
  • Reading sessions and conducting lab – A diverse body of repertoire will be explored to provide you with plenty of ideas for programming success. We will read new and recently released pieces for orchestra, as well as tried and true pieces of great repertoire from the past. Bring your own piece to share with participants and conduct. Participants who conduct will receive feedback and a video for self-assessment.
  • Special Topics Sessions (available to participants in both tracks)

Program Development – Learn about recruitment, retention, motivating students, and working with community partners.
Eclectic styles – develop your improvisation skills, learn folk, jazz and rock styles of string playing, and learn how to start an eclectic styles ensemble in your school program. Learn how to infuse your orchestra curriculum with composition activities.

Presentation by SHAR products on selecting instruments, bows, strings, accessories, rental programs, step-up instruments, and electric instruments

Michael Hopkins is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music Education at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. He teaches undergraduate courses in string techniques, orchestra methods, and music technology, and graduate courses in psychology of music and research methods. He was conductor of the UVM Orchestra from 1999-2010, is the founding director of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra, and has been a guest conductor at orchestra festivals throughout the United States. He is very active as a composer and arranger, with more than 50 published works for orchestra. He is the author of the online String Pedagogy Notebook, has published articles in the Journal of Research in Music Education, String Research Journal, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Journal of Music, Technology and Education, American String Teacher, Music Educators’ Journal and The Instrumentalist. He has given many presentations at national and state conferences on various topics in string education and music technology.


Recognized string pedagogue and conductor Scott Laird serves on the faculty of The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics where he is Fine Arts Coordinator and Instructor of Music. Noted for his innovative approach to ensemble development and musicianship, Laird is a frequent conductor of honor orchestras, appears frequently at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and is a sought-after conference presenter. He regularly performs on acoustic and electric violin and is known for his abilities in both the classical and improvisatory arena. Laird was the recipient of the 2017 ASTA Elizabeth A. H. Green Award, the North Carolina Symphony’s 2016 Maxine Swalin Award and the 2015 NCSSM Excellence in Teaching Award. He is currently on the National Boards of the American String Teachers Association, El Sistema USA and Creative Strings, Inc. He has served as President of the NC Chapter of ASTA, Chair of the NCMEA Orchestra Section and maintains a presence as a national leader in string education. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors for KidZNotes, an El Sistema USA program in Durham, NC and remains strongly involved in the organization. He earned his B.S. in Music Education and his M.A. in Violin Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he studied violin with Prof. Delight Malitsky. He earned his National Board Certification in 2004 and recertified in 2013. His blog, “Thoughts of a String Educator,” enjoys broad readership in the music education community. In addition, Laird serves as a sponsored artist and educational specialist for D’Addario Bowed Strings, Coda Bows, and NS Design Electric Violins.


Valerie M. Palmieri is the orchestra director at Adrian College. A former public school teacher for many years, she served as director of the Walled Lake Western Orchestras and Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School. A professional violinist, she performs with the Traverse City Symphony, the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and the Adrian Symphony.

Distinguished roles include past President of Michigan Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (MASTA), 25 years as the Chairman of the Michigan Music In-Service Conference and has served on the Board of Directors and the Planning Committee for the Michigan Music In-Service Conference. She currently serves as the Chairman for the American Strings Teachers National Orchestra Festival and is string editor for the Michigan Music Education Journal. Professor Palmieri has presented multiple sessions on string pedagogy and educational innovations at the American String Teachers National Convention, the Michigan Music Conference, the American String Workshop, the Michigan String Workshop, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University.

Professor Palmieri has a long history of excellence in orchestral work with high school and middle school students. Her high school orchestras have taken 18 gold medals and five silver medals in International Music Festivals including Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., London and Hawaii. Her orchestras have performed throughout Europe and the United States. She has guest-conducted orchestras throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as in the Czech Republic, Kyoto and Mexico.

Early bird registration deadline: May 1, 2019
Registration deadline: June 1, 2019
All participants must submit an online registration form and a $50 non-refundable deposit.

Workshop fee:
$400 (Early Bird/register by May 1, 2019)
$450 (May 2 – June 1, 2019)
No refunds for cancellations after June 1, 2019

The $50 required workshop registration deposit is included in tuition cost.

Sponsors: