We’ve all heard there’s a teacher shortage, and certainly that seems to be the case in the world of string education. We have heard so many jobs are begging for qualified string educators to fill those vacant positions. Obviously, we need to train and motivate music educators.
What if we have a solution for that, within our colleges and universities?
At the University of Redlands, where I’ve been Artist Teacher of Cello since 1995, we started a String Project in 2011. The National String Project Consortium helped us develop a program that gave practical experience to our undergraduates, who provided lessons for elementary school students in the area.
That helped our Music Education students gain practical working knowledge of how to teach. But how to motivate them? How to connect them with a larger community that could offer expertise, mentoring and inspiration?
I found a wonderful solution in the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), an organization where I'm a longtime member. This group, established in 1946, connects teachers with each other, with their communities and with the broader community of string teachers nation-wide, whether they wish to eventually teach in schools, universities or privately.
Very importantly, though, ASTA also has something called Student Chapters. In fact, there are approximately 54 Student Chapters currently, at colleges and universities all across the United States.
I first began to notice these Student Chapters at ASTA National Conferences, which I've been attending regularly since 2005. The conferences take place annually, at a different location each year. I noticed many young educators-in-training were also attending the sessions, and I could see that this was a great way for young people to get introduced to fabulous educators across the nation, and develop their knowledge and tools for use when they got out into the real world of teaching. I noticed that many of these student participants were attending as members of their ASTA Student Chapters, along with their faculty sponsors.
Clearly, we needed our own ASTA Student Chapter!
So we started our ASTA Student Chapter at the University of Redlands in 2018-19, with the idea of getting our String Music Education students active and involved in ASTA. We also wanted to attend the ASTA National Conference, which was to be held in Albuquerque, N.M. that year -- in March of 2019. The Dean of the School of Music worked to secure university funding to help our students afford the trip costs so they could attend.
We ended up with eight students, myself, and our String Project Master Teacher heading to Albuquerque for the conference, where everyone attended as many workshops and sessions as they could over the span of three and a half days. We came back exhausted but exhilarated! And our students were able to connect with other ASTA Student Chapter members from around the country - an added bonus!
Having seen this transformation, I think there could be many more Music Education string students who might find membership in a Student Chapter of ASTA to be an added element to their musical education. It’s easy to get started. You can find specific information about starting a Student Chapter on the ASTA website by clicking here).
Here are the basic steps:
The next ASTA National Conference will take place March 15-18, 2023 in Orlando, Florida - what great motivation to get your chapter going! Click here to learn more about ASTA's conferencees and summits. I'd love to see you there!
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