String Educators Workshop

June 17-20, 2020

Michael Hopkins, University of Michigan

The 2020 University of Michigan String Educators Workshop, led by Dr. Michael Hopkins, will be held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The workshop will be designed to meet the needs of the variety of educators who are responsible for teaching strings. The 2020 String Educators Workshop features:

  • 12+ hours of online professional development content available on June 1 that participants can view asynchronously.
  • Online discussion boards available for participants to post questions and ideas.
  • We will hold 16 synchronous meetings (4 per day) on June 17-20 where participants come together on Zoom with the faculty for interactive discussions.

Session topics include:

  • Violin, viola, cello, and double bass pedagogy
  • Curriculum Design in String Education
  • Team Building
  • Orchestra Tone Development
  • Developing students’ creative musicianship
  • Culturally responsive pedagogy
  • Teaching students how to practice at home
  • Teaching students with disabilities
  • Teaching shifting
  • Developing young string players’ aural/motor skill connections

Plus, conversations with renowned composer Richard Meyer, and ASTA president Kristen Pellegrino.

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.

Dr. Stephen Benham is Professor of Music Education at the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. He has degrees from the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan (M.M.), and the Eastman School of Music (Ph.D.). At Duquesne, Dr. Benham teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education and string pedagogy.

Prior to this, Dr. Benham held teaching positions in both public and private schools in Oregon, Michigan, and New York. Dr. Benham maintains a very active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, speaker, and adjudicator, with professional appearances in nearly 40 states and more than 25 countries in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, including more than 200 clinics, multiple residencies, and extended workshops.

Dr. Benham is in high demand as a clinician, conductor, and speaker. His areas of expertise include string pedagogy, methods, curriculum, and assessment. His research interests include cultural issues in music education, increasing access to music instruction in underserved populations, and culturally relevant pedagogy, and his work has been featured in numerous international research seminars and conferences. He is the lead author the ASTA String Curriculum: Standards, Goals, Learning Sequences for Essential Skills and Knowledge in K–12 String Programs (Published by ASTA; distributed by Alfred) and Yes You Can! The Band and Choral Director’s Guide to Teaching Strings (published by Carl Fischer). He has also authored several works for scholarly journals, handbooks, and encyclopedias, including publications by Oxford University Press and Sage Publications. He is also a member of the writing team for Alfred’s Sound Innovations: Creative Warm-ups––Exercises for Intonation, Rhythm, Bowing, and Creativity for Intermediate String Orchestra.
Dr. Benham is also an active consultant in the development of new music programs in communities without current string programs across the US, in addition to providing expertise to new music education projects in Europe and Africa. He is an internationally-recognized leader in the music education profession, having served in leadership positions in several states and is past-president of the American String Teachers Association.

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.

Abigail Alwin has a rich career as multi-faceted musician and educator. As a “Michigan String Teacher of the Year” recipient as well as a “Yale Distinguished Music Educator,” Alwin has been recognized for her passion, leadership, and innovation as a music educator and pedagogue. As director of orchestras at Clague Middle School in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Alwin’s orchestras have been honored to perform twice at the Michigan Music Conference, and her young orchestras have consistently earned division one ratings at District and State Orchestra Festival, receiving the highest praise for their precision, energy, and musicianship. She has been honored to conduct the Maryland All-State Junior Orchestra in 2018, and enjoys being a guest clinician and conductor around the state. As a cellist and performer her musicianship casts a large net with depth in Western-classical traditions, music of the Balkans, free improvisation, and a keen interest in how music expresses culture and connection.

Molly Baugh is a PhD candidate in music education at the University of Michigan. Prior to beginning her studies at UM, she taught orchestras at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for 13 years in Oklahoma and Texas, and taught AP Music Theory for 8 of those years. During her tenure in Oklahoma she mentored several student teachers, served as the OkMEA Orchestra Vice President, and conducted the Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Molly holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from University of Oklahoma and is a National Board Certified Teacher.

Dr. Charles Laux is the Director of Orchestras at Alpharetta High School where his duties include directing five levels of orchestra, including the nationally recognized AHS Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as Essential Elements clinician, consultant, and contributor for the Hal Leonard Corporation. Additionally he is an endorsed artist/educator and clinician for D’Addario Orchestral Strings and Eastman Strings. Dr. Laux holds degrees in music education from Ohio University, the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, with a minor in educational technology.

From 2012 to 2016, Dr. Laux served as Assistant Professor of String Music Education at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Georgia. At KSU, his responsibilities included teaching courses in string techniques & pedagogy, instrumental methods, and music education technology. He also supervised student teachers, conducted the KSU Philharmonic, coordinated string outreach, and served as director of the KSU String Project and Summer Music Intensive. Under his leadership, the KSU String Project grew to provide group lessons to over 100 students taught by 14 undergraduate music education majors.

Dr. Laux spent fifteen years as a public school orchestra director in Nevada, Florida, and Ohio. In 1996, he began directing orchestras in the Clark County School District. During his term in the CCSD, Dr. Laux was chair of the CCSD Middle School Honor Orchestra and served as a technology consultant for the secondary music teachers.

Dr. Rebecca MacLeod is Professor of Music Education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she directs the string education program and conducts the UNCG Sinfonia. She is the author of Teaching Strings in Today’s Classroom and is published in Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, String Research Journal, Psychology of Music, The Strad, American String Teachers Journal, and various state music education journals. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Research in Music Education, the String Research Journal, and as guest reviewer for the International Journal of Research in Music Education. She is the recipient of the UNCG School of Music, Theatre and Dance Outstanding Teaching Award, the American String Teacher Association National Researcher Award, and the UNCG Junior Research Excellence Award.

A passionate advocate for increasing access to string education to all students, Dr. MacLeod directs two community partnership programs that provide string instruction to underserved students: the Lillian Rauch Beginning Strings Program and the Peck Alumni Leadership Program. Students of these programs have performed for Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Gloria Ladsen-Billings, and the Sphinx Virtuosi. Her research on working with underserved populations, vibrato technique, music teacher education, and music perception has been presented at the International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition (Thessoloniki, Greece), Music Research and Human Behavior International Conference (Barcelona, Spain), International Society for Music Education (Glasgow, Scotland), Music Educators National Conference, National Association for Music Education National Conference, American String Teachers National Conference, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Society for Music Teacher Education, and music educators state conferences.

Prior to joining the UNCG faculty, she taught elementary, middle, and high school orchestra in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and was orchestra director and chair of music activities in Beaver, Pennsylvania. She was the assistant artistic director and conductor of the Tallahassee Symphony Youth Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra in Tallahassee, Florida. She has served on the American String Teachers Association National Board and is past president of the North Carolina ASTA chapter. She was a guest lecturer at Xi’an University and Shaoguan University (China) in summer 2016 and 2017.

Dr. MacLeod received her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University and her MME and PhD from Florida State University. She is a frequent guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States and abroad.

Richard Meyer is a highly sought after music educator and maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician. For 35 years he taught string students at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels in the public schools. For 22 of those years, he directed the orchestras at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in Temple City, California, growing the program from 29 string students to 200 and was in charge of the city’s elementary string program. In 2009, Mr. Meyer implemented the “Giving Bach” program at his school which has garnered national attention for its innovative ways of using interactive concerts to bring music into the lives of special needs and inner-city school students throughout Southern California.

He was the music director of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra for 16 years, conducting them in performances in New York, Washington D.C., Vienna, Australia, and Canada. He has been a featured clinician at the A.S.T.A. National Conference, Texas Orchestra Directors’ Association Conference and String Teachers’ Workshops at Ohio State University and Birch Bay, Washington. He has also guest-conducted All-State and Honor Orchestras in several states.

In addition to his teaching and conducting assignments, Mr. Meyer is a nationally-recognized, best-selling composer with over 190 compositions and arrangements in print, and for 16 years served as string editor for Alfred Publishing Company. He is the co-author of several string method books, including the popular String Explorer Series and Sight-read It for Strings. He and his wife, Rose, live in Sierra Madre, California and have three daughters and two grandsons.

Kristen Pellegrino head shotDr. Kristen Pellegrino is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes. She is currently serving as President-Elect of American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and will serve two 2-year terms as President and Past-President (2018-2022). Kristen is also on the editorial board of String Research Journal.

Dr. Pellegrino’s degrees are from the University of Michigan (Ph.D. in music education and M.M. in violin performance/chamber music performance) and the Eastman School of Music (B.M. in music education and applied violin).

Kristen was awarded ASTA’s String Researcher Award (2016), AERA’s Outstanding Early Career Paper Award in Music Education (2014), and two Internal Research Award Grants from UTSA. Kristen has co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Preservice Music Teacher Education in the United States (forthcoming in 2019) and is authoring Workbook for Teaching Beginning Strings: Developing a Curriculum and a Year’s Worth of Lesson Plans.

Dr. Pellegrino has 27 scholarly publications (published or in press), including her dissertation, “The Meanings and Values of Music-Making in the Lives of String Teachers: Exploring the Intersections of Music-making and Teaching” and articles published in the Journal of Music Teacher Education (JMTE), Journal of Research in Music Education (JRME), International Journal of Music Education (IJME), Research Studies in Music Education (RSME), Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (CRME), Arts Education Policy Review (AEPR), String Research Journal (SRJ), Contributions to Music Education (CME), New Directions in Music Education (NDME), and Music Educators Journal (MEJ). She has written chapters for The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education, Advances in Music Education Research, GIA’s Musicianship-focused Curriculum and Assessment, and Oxford Handbook of Assessment Policy and Practice in Music Education (volume 2), and three in the Oxford Handbook of Preservice Music Teacher Education in the United States.

Kristen has presented over 90 sessions/research posters at conferences including American Educational Research Association (AERA), American String Teachers Association (ASTA), Biennial Colloquium for Teachers of Instrumental Music Methods (IMTE), Biennial Music Educators National Conference (NAfME), International Society for Music Education (ISME), Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE), and MENC’s All-Eastern Conference as well as in Rhode Island, Michigan, Virginia, and Texas state conferences. She co-taught a weeklong Music Education Summer Workshop with Professor Robert Culver titled “Chamber Music for an Orchestra Program” at the University of Michigan and conducted Rhode Island’s Junior All-State Orchestra.

Kristen’s background in music education includes eight years of public school string teaching at the elementary and high school levels (Fairfax County Public Schools and Warwick Public Schools) and collegiate teaching experience at Rhode Island College, Central Michigan University, and Christopher Newport University. Before teaching full-time, she was a full-time performing musician, including performing in the Chagall String Quartet through Chamber Music America’s Rural Residencies Grants. She continues to perform as a member of RI’s Music on the Hill.

2020 String Educators Online Workshop Schedule

8:00 – 8:30AM      Workshop orientation session (Michael Hopkins)
8:30 – 9:15AM      Strategies for Developing Tone Quality in the Orchestra (Hopkins)
9:30 – 10:15AM     Team Building (Val Palmieri)
10:15 – 10:45AM Break
10:45 – 11:30AM Curriculum Design in String Education (Steve Benham)
11:15 – 12:30PM Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (Rebecca MacLeod)

8:30 – 9:15AM      Group Pedagogy – Shifting from Day 1 (Hopkins)
9:30 – 10:15AM     Beginning and Intermediate Cello Pedagogy (Abby Alwin)
10:15 – 10:45AM Break
10:45 – 11:30AM Assessment in String Education (Benham)
11:15 – 12:30PM Teaching Students How to Practice at Home (Charles Laux)

FRIDAY, June 19
8:30 – 9:15AM      Addressing the Needs of Beginning and Intermediate Bassists (Hopkins)
9:30 – 10:15AM     Beginning and Intermediate Violin Pedagogy (Palmieri)
10:15 – 10:45AM Break
10:45 – 11:30AM Emergency Repairs with SHAR
11:15 – 12:30PM Special Guest Kristen Pellegrino, president of ASTA

8:30 – 9:15AM      Celebrating All Learners: Helping Students with Common Disabilities and Special Needs Succeed Playing Strings (Benham)
9:30 – 10:15AM     Developing Aural/motor Connections for Young String Players (Molly Baugh)
10:15 – 10:45AM Break
10:45 – 11:30AM Collaborating Composing Projects in the Orchestra Class (Hopkins/Alwin)
11:15 – 12:30PM Special Guest Richard Meyer, composer

Registration for summer 2020 is closed.


2019 String Educators workshop participants.
2019 String Educators Workshop participants.
2019 String Educators Workshop participants in class.
2019 String Educators Workshop participants in class.
2019 String Educators Workshop participants in class.
2019 String Educators Workshop participants in class.