Fall 2019 Newsletter

Posted on October 22, 2019

Upcoming Events…

  • Luncheon is January 24, 2020, at The Graduate Hotel starting at 12:30 PM. The cost is $35 per person. This event sells out quickly so order your tickets once you see the announcement via email and FaceBook! 🙂
  • String In! at Georgia Southern for 7th and 8th graders, featuring a side by side concert with the Golden Isles Youth Symphony on February 1, 2020.
  • Southern Chamber Music Festival at Georgia Southern February 13-16, 2020
  • All-State final audition prep workshop at Georgia Southern University on November 9, 2019
  • Elections are in the Spring. Please email me Corie Benton at if you are interested in running for an office.
  • The ASTA National Conference is March 4-7, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. Please plan to attend.

Fall Workshop Highlights…

  • Clinician: Thank you to Dr. Sandy Goldie for sharing her area of expertise and research with us!
  • Special thanks to Sponsors: JWPepper (Amber Loper and Doug McComas); Mandarin Strings (Charles Bostwick and Ying Zhou), Ron Sachs Violins of Peachtree City (Chris Johns)
  • Special Thanks to Helpers/Organizers: Corie Benton – President; Bo Na – President-Elect, Sam Lowder – Past President; Grace Parsons – Treasurer; Kevin Anderson – Secretary; David Metrio – Membership Ambassador; Denise Huewitt – Site Host; Georgia Ekonomou – Music Selections for JW Pepper Sponsored Reading Session, Einstein’s Bagels, Maggiano’s Italian Grill

Chapter News & Highlights…

  • Congratulations to Dr. Larisa Elisha and Sarah Ball as ASTA Mentors. They are available to assist young school teachers with their school program and teaching.
  • We have several people presenting at the National Conference in March. Congratulations to the following members: Sarah Ball, Dr. Annalisa Chang, Amy Clement, Dr. Nancy Conley, Dr. Charles Laux, Dr. Katrin Meidell, Jim Palmer, & John Sweat
  • Congratulations to the Dodgen Middle School Orchestra under the direction of Ashley Culley for competing in the upcoming 2020 ASTA National Orchestra Festival this year.

Please remember to check the website regularly for information about mini-grants and scholarship opportunities.


GMEA All-State Orchestra Final Auditions Preparation Workshop

November 9, 2019

Georgia Southern University (Statesboro Campus)

Georgia Southern University Strings Faculty, Dr. Steven Elisha (Head of Strings, Director of Orchestras, Cello/Bass) and Dr. Larisa Elisha (Coordinator of Upper Strings Studies

Violin/Viola/Chamber Music) will be the clinicians for the GMEA All-State Orchestra Final Auditions Preparation Workshop on November 9, 2:00 – 5:00 PM. String students will have the opportunity to gain valuable skills in preparing for the final round of the All-State Orchestra auditions. The workshops include instruction in detailed practice techniques for playing the orchestral excerpts and scales, as well as general issues associated with mental preparation and minimizing audition and performance anxiety. For more information, please contact Dr. Steven Elisha (


February 1, 2020

Georgia Southern University (Statesboro Campus)

Seventh and eighth graders are invited to come for a day of college tours, admissions counseling and careers in music information, as well as lunch, as a day-long event planned on Georgia Southern University’s (GSU) Statesboro campus. Musicians will be organized into groups by instruments to work on pieces that will be performed at the end of the day. Other partners for the day will be the college members of Georgia Southern University’s student chapter of the American Strings Teachers Association (ASTA), the Glynn County School District, and several donors to GIYO. The cost for students will be $10. For more information, please contact Dr. Steven Elisha (

Strings at Southern Chamber Music Festival

February 13-16, 2020

Georgia Southern University (Statesboro Campus)

Georgia Southern University’s Strings at Southern Chamber Music Festival, for high school and university students, will be held February 13 -16, 2020 on Georgia Southern University – Statesboro campus. This four-day festival includes a String Quartet Competition, string masterclasses, chamber ensemble coaching’s, workshops, chamber/symphony orchestra rehearsals, and student performances. String players have the opportunity to study with the internationally acclaimed Elaris Duo (Dr. Larisa Elisha, violin and Dr. Steven Elisha, cello), directors of the festival and faculty members at Georgia Southern University. Pre-formed groups, as well as individual applicants, are encouraged to apply.

Michael Klinghoffer Residency

April 8-16, 2020

Georgia Southern University (Statesboro and Armstrong Campus)

During April 8-16, 2020, Professor Michael Klinghoffer, bass virtuoso and pedagogue, as well as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, will provide workshops, master classes, lectures and performances throughout Georgia’s Southeast Coastal Region. Workshop topics will include The role of the teacher in the 21st century; The Artist – an Agent of Change; String Pedagogy class with instruments for all strings. (Based on Frank Zappa’s song “The Torture Never Stops” and on Paul Simons song “Fifty ways to play a scale”); Improvisation as Listening; The Broken Consort (aka Building a young ensemble, based on Stuart Diamond’s Theory of Trust); Roll Over Beethoven (aka what can we learn from Rock musicians and from Karate Kid about performance skills). For more information, please contact Dr. Steven Elisha (

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Posted on April 9, 2019

Congratulations to the following GA-ASTA members for their participation at the ASTA National Conference!

2019 ASTA Scholarship Recipient

  • Esther Kim,Duluth High School

2019 National Conference Presenters/Adjudicators

  • Jim Palmer
  • Dr. Steven Elisha
  • Dr. Larisa Elisha
  • Dr. Cathie Hudnall

Annual Luncheon Wrap-Up

The luncheon this year was a complete success!!! A special thank you to all that attended and a HUGE thank you to ALL of our sponsors!

2019 ASTA Luncheon Award Winners

  • Mini Grant: Selinda Proctor & Dr. Steven Elisha
  • Industry Award: Mandarin Strings
  • Educator of the Year: Stephen Lawrence
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Linda Cherniavsky

Online Resource Library

Make sure to visit the ASTA online resource library. They have also added the Snapshot of US strings and orchestra programs. This snapshot shows information as: Classroom Trends, Students Retention Trends, Students Enrollment Figures, etc.

Online Member Resources

We Want Your Photos!

As we approach the end of the school year, please send pictures of you and your students in action. We want to celebrate the great programs in our state!

Summer Camps

We have some great summer camps in our state, Please be sure to pass camp information along to your students and parents. The deadline is fast approaching, and we want everyone to have the chance to participate in the opportunities offered.

Summer Camps Inormation

Please check out the Clayton State Leadership for high school juniors and seniors. The workshop is geared towards students interested in becoming music educators of thinking about majoring in music education. The deadline has been extended to give more kids the chance to participate in training. (flyer attached below).

MYSO auditions are May 11th, 18th and August 18th. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Continuing Education

Teacher Education Opportunities


Newsletter Archive 2013-2018

Fall 2018 Newsletter

Posted on December 5, 2018

Welcome to the GA-ASTA Newsletter for Fall 2018. Included is important information about our chapter.

Teaching Resources

Check out the wonderful teaching resources on the web library. There is a wealth of information available. Also, the Snapshot of US strings and orchestra programs has been added. This snapshot shows such as information as:

Highlighting chapter successes

We want to hear from you! Do you have a chapter program or service that you are especially proud of or that has been successful? Let’s highlight our chapter successes in the next newsletter.

Classroom trends Student retention trends

Please send them to

Upcoming Deadlines

Please keep the following dates and events in mind. The deadlines are very close.


The online ASTACAP is now open until November 30. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, please take a look at this link.

National Conference

The early registration deadline is has passed and the hotels are selling quickly and we encourage everyone to make their hotel reservations soon. ASTA has a limited amount of rooms available at the special rates and they can sell out prior to the deadline. They are 70% sold already. Link

National Orchestra Festival 2020

The 2020 NOF will be held in Orlando, Florida from March 3-7. The information will be available in January 2019. We anticipate due to the location a high response rate – If you know of an orchestra or you have an orchestra that wants to get on the preview mailing list – please follow the link on this page –

Annual Luncheon

The annual GA-ASTA Luncheon is January 25, 2019 at The Foundry located at the Graduate Hotel in Athens. Register and pay here.

2019 Luncheon Information

Posted on December 5, 2018

The 2019 ASTA luncheon will be held on Friday, January 25th at 12:30p.m. at the Foundry (The Graduate Hotel- 295 E Dougherty St, Athens). No transportation needed! You can see the graduate hotel from the classic center and can walk there in minutes.

You can see the graduate hotel from the classic center and can walk there in minutes.

The meal will be buffet style with the option between two entrees (meat) and four sides (vegetarians will have plenty of sides to choose from). If there are other dietary restrictions, please notate on the order form.


Newsletter – 08-07-2018

Posted on August 7, 2018

Hello everyone,

I hope that the start of this new school year has you filled with excitment for I am excited to work with you as your GA-ASTA President and want to invite you to our upcoming Fall Workshop in September.

Our clinician for the Fall Workshop is Dr. Andrew Dabczynski, Emeritus Professor from Brigham Young University.

ASTA members attend free and non-members may attend for $25.00 (a light breakfast and delicious lunch will be provided). All participants must RSVP via email to by Friday, August 31, 2018.

The GA-ASTA Fall Workshop will take place on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at Clayton State University (Music Education Building/Spivey Hall) from 8:00 AM–3:00 PM. Ron Sachs Violins of Peachtree City will be hosting a light breakfast and Mandarin Strings has graciously offered to host lunch from Maggiano’s Little Italy again this year!

Dr. Andrew Dabczynski is Emeritus Professor of Music Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he was the director of the BYU “New Horizons Orchestra,” a beginning string orchestra for adults and laboratory for string teacher training. Dr. Dabczynski has held teaching and administrative positions at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and in the public schools of Penfield and Mamaroneck, New York. In addition, he was the Supervisor of Fine Arts Education in the Waterford, Michigan, School District. Dr. Dabczynski received a B.M. degree in applied viola performance from the Eastman School, and a M.A. from the University of Connecticut, serving there as violist in the graduate string quartet. He also holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Michigan. As a performer, Dr. Dabczynski has played viola in the Rochester Philharmonic, the Hartford Symphony, the Portland (Maine) Symphony, the Kalamazoo Symphony, and the Greenwich (Connecticut) Symphony orchestras. For six years, he was a member of the Colden String Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at Western Michigan University. He also has been an adjunct faculty member at numerous other colleges and at national string workshops. Dr. Dabczynski has held a variety of national committee positions with the American String Teachers Association, and is currently president-elect of the Utah chapter of that organization.

Highly respected for his expertise in string pedagogy, Dr. Dabczynski is co-author of the widely acclaimed comprehensive string method series, String Explorer, published by Alfred Publishing Co. Additionally, a strong interest in folk music and ethnomusicology has led him to focus his research efforts on fiddling and the transmission of traditional music. In addition to his doctoral dissertation, he has written many articles on the subject of teaching and learning fiddling, both in contemporary America and other cultures. He is co-author of the groundbreaking Fiddlers Philharmonic series, also published by Alfred. Dr. Dabczynski also pursues professional and research interests in string pedagogy, school curriculum, and musical learning among senior adults. He appears frequently as a clinician for teachers and guest conductor for student ensembles throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico. His numerous published arrangements and compositions for string and full orchestra are played regularly in concerts throughout the world. Dr. Dabczynski, his wife Diane — a commercial vocalist — and two musical daughters live in Waterford, Maine.

In addition to the fabulous reading session and discussing a number of his own exciting compositions, he will also be presenting informative sessions on ways to teach various styles to your ensemble and tips for effective sightreading. Be sure to bring your instrument!

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. I look forward to seeing you at the workshop!


Corie Benton

2018 Luncheon Information

Posted on December 1, 2017 by Charles Laux

The 2018 ASTA luncheon will be held on Friday, January 26th at 12:00p.m. at The Foundry (in The Graduate Hotel located at 295 E Dougherty St, Athens). No transportation needed! You can see the graduate hotel from the classic center and can walk there in minutes.

The meal will be buffet style with the option between two entrees (meat) and four sides (vegetarians will have plenty of sides to choose from). If there are other dietary restrictions, please notate on the order form.

The cost is $35 per person and the student price is $20. The final day to place your order is January 19 or until capacity has been reached, so don’t delay!

Reserve your ticket using this form, then mail a check to the address on the form) or use the PayPal button below!

Active Member/Student

Active Member $35.00 USDStudent $20.00 USD

Newsletter – 10/27/2017

Posted on October 27, 2017

I hope this communication finds you well.

Did you know that ASTA’s Elizabeth A.H. Green School Educator Award is given annually to a school string teacher with a current and distinguished career in a school orchestral setting?

Do you know someone that deserves consideration for this prestigious award?

Would you be willing and able to take the time this weekend to nominate them?

If so, follow this link: to complete and submit an application form. Your nominee must have at least 10 years of successful school string/orchestra teaching experience in a program for school-aged children through the 12th grade. You and your nominee must be current ASTA members. The postmark deadline for nominations is November 1st.

Don’t forget to register for and attend the National ASTA Conference! It’s in our own back yard and you do not want to miss it! You can still save $150.00 if you register before November 30th!

Has your membership expired? Is it about to expire? Don’t forget to renew today!

Check out the new ASTA Online Career Center at

If I may be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peace and Love,

Sam Lowder

Newsletter – 09/08/2017

Posted on September 8, 2017

If your membership has expired, or if you know any non-members, please renew or join today – visit

  • The ASTA National Conference is March 7-10, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia! The early bird registration deadline is November 30, 2017. REGISTER NOW!

And now for some information on more amazing opportunities!

From Clayton State University

Dear Colleagues,

With the registration deadline for All State coming up next week, I wanted to send a follow-up about our All State Preparation Workshop scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd at Clayton State. See attachment!

Richard Bell, DMA

Associate Professor of Music

Clayton State University

From Kennesaw State University

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you all well and that your year is off to a great start! My name is Nat Parker and I am the Director of Orchestral Studies at Kennesaw State University. I wanted share with you some of the exciting string events we are hosting at KSU during the 2017-2018 academic year that you and your students may be interested in being a part of.


This is a brand new event designed to bring together the most talented pre-college string instrumentalists in and around North Georgia. The Honor Orchestra will perform a program that includes the Elgar Serenade, Vivaldi—Winter from the Four Seasons with the amazing Helen Kim as soloist, and the finale from the Tchaikovsky Serenade; they will then combine with the KSU Symphony to perform the finale from the Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony. The deadline to apply and upload an audition video is 10/1/2017. More information, audition excerpts, and the online application form are available at


The Orchestra Invitational offers high school and middle school orchestras the opportunity to perform in one of the finest acoustical concerts halls in Georgia – Morgan Concert Hall at Kennesaw State University – and receive assessment-based feedback from a nationally-recognized guest clinician and KSU faculty. Our guest clinician this year is Dr. Michael Alexander, Associate Professor of String Music Education at Baylor University. KSU’s new Assistant Professor of String Music Education, Dr. Nancy Conley, and Dr. Nathaniel Parker, Director of Orchestral Studies, will be the other clinicians. The application deadline is September 29, 2017; spots are limited. More information and the online application form are available at

Just a reminder that the application deadline for the 3rd Annual KSU Orchestra Invitational is fast approaching. The event is November 3-4, 2017, and the application deadline is September 29, 2017. Remaining spots are limited and applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

The Invitational is a great opportunity for high school and middle school orchestras to perform in one of the finest acoustical concerts halls in Georgia – KSU’s Morgan Concert Hall– and receive assessment-based feedback from guest clinician Dr. Michael Alexander, Associate Professor of String Music Education at Baylor University, as well as Dr. Nathaniel Parker, KSU’s Director of Orchestral Studies and Dr. Nancy Conley, KSU’s Assistant Professor of String Music Education. More information and the online application form are available at:


The Kennesaw State University School of Music Young Artists Competition seeks to showcase the most talented, pre-college instrumentalists in the Southeastern United States. Awards include over $10,000 in cash prizes and scholarships, the opportunity to perform as a featured soloist in concert with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra and the Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra, and more. The application deadline is December 1, 2017. More information and the online application form are available at

I’m proud to announce a new performance competition designed to engage and showcase the most talented, pre-college instrumentalists in the Southeastern United States—the Kennesaw State University School of Music Young Artists Competition ( Awards include over $10,000 in cash prizes and scholarships, the opportunity to perform as a featured soloist in concert with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra and the Kennesaw State University Symphony Orchestra, and more. The application deadline is December 1, 2017.


The String Day is a consolidation of our previously individual events—Violin Day, Viola Day, Cellobration, and Bass Fest—into a single day of string synergy! The event is open to middle school and high school string players of all ability levels with at least one year of experience on their instrument. Participants will experience a day of masterclasses, performances, and fun led by KSU’s exceptional string faculty. Participants will receive technical instruction, hear a professional recital, and end their day performing in KSU’s Morgan Concert Hall! No audition is required; more information and online registration will be available by September 1 at

Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you or your students have any questions about these events. In addition, I am always happy to assist you and your programs in any way I can. I send you all best wishes for a wonderful year!

Nathaniel F. Parker, DMA

From the University of Georgia

The following link is for the UGA Orchestra Festival Web site Our Tech department would not release our new website and this has caused us a lot of issues and most people have no way of knowing where to send their applications for registration. The “Weebly” site is NOT to be used. Applicants need to print out the application, fill it out and snail mail it to the address on the form along with payment.

Junior Festival: October 6 & 7

Dana Ballard, guest conductor

for grades 7, 8 and 9

fee: $85

Senior Festival: October 5 – 7

Jere Flint, guest conductor

for grades 10, 11 and 12

fee: $95

All participants will receive lunch both days. Other meals, lodging, transportation are the responsibility of the participant.

SOMETHING NEW: We are now required to have a completed authorization form for every applicant who is a minor. That form will be a part of the application form.

PLEASE. . . . never “reply all” – for DIRECT RESPONSE, please contact the directors at:

From Katherine Irwin Thomas


I’m assisting with this year’s Fiddle Tent at this year’s Scottish games in Atlanta. The first sanctioned Scottish fiddle competition will be held this year at The Stone Mountain Highland Games. Junior (U18) and Novice (O18) levels. All players need to play: an Air, (then pause), March, Strathspey and Reel 2x each.

The competition will take place at the Fiddle Tent on Saturday, October 21. Registration begins at 9 am with judging beginning at 10 am.

More info can be found here:

The sign up form is here.

Katherine Irwin Thomas

Presenting the Forsyth Youth Orchestra!

Posted on May 6, 2013 by Charles Laux

Please see the article and press release regarding one of the projects that was awarded a 2013 GA-ASTA mini grant, given at the annual luncheon.

The Forsyth Youth Orchestra – FYO, is the brainchild of violin teacher, ASTA member and Cumming, GA resident Corina Brito. The orchestra was created to provide students who play a string instrument (violins, violas, cellos and basses), the opportunity to perform in an orchestral setting. In that setting they learn the basics of orchestral technique, they socialize with other students who play a string instrument, they learn to play various genres of orchestra music such as classical, popular, and folk, and they develop self-discipline, leadership skills and strong work ethics.

The orchestra came to fruition with the support of the Fine Arts Department of the Forsyth School Board and other members of the Cumming arts community.

Principals of each section of the orchestra form the FYO Quartet. These musicians are the primary ambassadors for the orchestra as they take on extra performance duties in the community, inspiring and setting an exemplary demeanor to audiences everywhere.

The FYO inaugural concert will be May 19 in the Cumming Playhouse. Tickets are available at

For more information about FYO you can check their website at

Congrats to Corina and her efforts to bring strings to this area of Georgia!

Georgia Students Win Three Finalist Spots in ASTA National Solo Competition

Posted on April 2, 2013 by Charles Laux

Three students from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music were selected as finalists in the American String Teachers Association national solo competition. Violinist Shin Jung Lee and cellists Riana Anthony and SiHao He were selected from string students from throughout the country. Mercer is the only institution to have three finalists in the 12-member Senior String division. Other schools represented include the University of North Texas with two finalists; and Curtis Institute, Juilliard, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College, New England Conservatory, and Yale University with one finalist each. The finalist from the Curtis Institute participated in the Robert McDuffie Labor Day Festival for Strings and is a former student of Center for Strings Director and violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti.

“I think it’s extraordinary that our students are achieving this kind of recognition,” said Moretti, who holds the Caroline Paul King Violin Chair at Mercer. “It is always meaningful to be acknowledged like this by fellow musicians who are aware of the work and dedication necessary to achieve a great performance, but it is even more so because our program is only six years old.”

Founded more than 60 years ago, the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) is the premier membership organization for the strings community. Members include K12, university, and private studio teachers as well as orchestra directors, administrators, performers, students, and many other string enthusiasts.

“We are all very proud of the work that these students are doing,” said Dr. C. David Keith, dean of Townsend. “I know that they will well represent the Center for Strings and Mercer in the finals.”

The final round of the National Solo Competition will be held in New York City, April 6-8 at the Kauffman Center’s Merkin Hall. For more information about the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and Townsend School of Music please visit or call (478) 301-5751.

Award Recipients 2013

Posted on January 29, 2013 by Charles Laux

Congratulations to the 2013 Award recipients! The following were announced at the GA-ASTA Annual Luncheon on January 25, 2013.


GA-ASTA on Facebook & Twitter

Posted on January 23, 2013 by Charles Laux

Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! Now there are more ways for you to get your GA-ASTA news!

Purchase luncheon tickets!

Posted on January 8, 2013 by Charles Laux

We’re coming up on the biggest ASTA Party of the year!

Click below to get your tickets to the 2013 GMEA ISC ASTA Luncheon!

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM at Lady and Son’s in Savannah!

$31.50 – 1 Ticket – GA ASTA Luncheon$63.00 – 2 Tickets – GA ASTA Luncheon$94.50 – 3 Tickets – GA ASTA Luncheon$126.00 – 4 Tickets – GA ASTA Luncheon

[EDIT Jan 23, 2013] Sorry! Luncheon tickets are no longer available.