String Educators Workshop

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 in the morning to address participants’ varied experience with teaching strings. Participants come together in the afternoon for special topics sessions and to explore new music for strings.

June 23-25, 2022
Michael Hopkins, University of Michigan

The String Immersion (SI) 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 SI track are all designed so participants learn to effectively teach beginning and intermediate string classes.

SI 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

All instruments are provided

The 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 may include topics related to program development, recruitment, retention, motivating students, working with community partners, curriculum development, eclectic styles and creative music making, and addressing the needs of diverse learners.
  • Presentation by SHAR products on selecting instruments, bows, strings, accessories, rental programs, step-up instruments, and electric instruments

Michael Hopkins is 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.

Kristen Pellegrino head shotDr. Kristen Pellegrino was promoted to Professor of Music Education at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is President of American String Teachers Association (ASTA) (2020-2022). Kristen’ degrees are from the University of Michigan (Ph.D. in music education and M.M. in violin/chamber music performance) and the Eastman School of Music (B.M. in music education and applied violin).

Dr. Pellegrino has over 30 scholarly publications, including being co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Preservice Music Teacher Education in the United States (2019), in which she also wrote/co-wrote three chapters, and has a contract to co-author another book with Oxford University Press, Teaching instrumental music: Concert hall to rock stage. She was also awarded ASTA’s String Researcher Award, and AERA’s Outstanding Early Career Paper Award in Music Education. Kristen has presented over 90 sessions/research posters at conferences (international, national, regional, and state conferences), presented at workshops, and conducted district, regional, and All-State orchestras.

Dr. Pellegrino’s background in music education includes 8 years of public-school string teaching at the high school and elementary levels (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA and Warwick Public Schools, RI), and 13 years of collegiate teaching experience. 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 Chamber Music Festival and Music Across the Pond, a music festival in England.

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.

Abigail Alwin has a rich career as a 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.

Registration deadline: June 20, 2022
All participants must submit an online registration form.

Workshop fee:
No refunds for cancellations after June 1, 2022
For assistance with any questions regarding the String Educators Workshop, please contact Amanda Dihle, Department of Music Education Project Coordinator, at