American String Teachers Association
The American String Teacher's Association (or ASTA) is a professional organization based in the United States for music teachers. It is the largest such national organization in the US for string teachers. It promotes learning to play string instruments in the next generation of American students, and also aims to place those students into orchestras as they grow more proficient. Originally two separate groups, ASTA and NSOA (National School Orchestra Association), the whole organization is now referred to as merely "ASTA". The organization is currently led by Kirk Moss. The immediate past president is cellist Jeffrey Solow.
In addition to publishing a journal four times a year, they offer books, publicity leaflets & posters, and conferences to help train and encourage string teachers, and help them promote their programs in schools and in their communities at large.
National String Project Consortium
Since 1948, there had been a movement to run programs for string instrument instruction for young children in universities called the String Projects. The first project was started from a program at the University of Texas, and the former ASTA President Robert Jesselson then was expanded to other universities. The teachers in the projects were mostly graduate students at the universities where the programs ran. These projects continued for decades and gained national attention. In 1998, when Jesselson became the ASTA President, he started the foundation to form the project more formally within the umbrella of ASTA. The National String Project Consortium (NSPC) was formed in 1999 to use these programs to address the shortage in the stringed-instrument teachers for public schools in the United States. NSPC grew and expanded to 24 sites to the point that it would need to be an independent organization from ASTA. In 2007 NSPC finally became independent. The organization currently has grown to include 35 string projects at universities around the United States.
ASTA String Curriculum
In 2011, ASTA published its first national model curriculum intended to be used as one of the standards and benchmarks for K–12 strings and orchestra programs. The curriculum is a road map to which teachers can be used as a reference and can be presented to administrators and parents. Although the curriculum is not a method book, but it also includes the teachings of Shinichi Suzuki, Paul Rolland, Kató Havas, and others. The curriculum was released at the 2011 ASTA National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.
The following awards are given by ASTA:
- Artist Teacher Award is given to an artist/pedagogue of renowned stature from within North America.
- Citations for Leadership and Merit are given to ASTA members who have made significant contributions to the association.
- Distinguished Service Award
- 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.
- Isaac Stern International Award is given to an artist teacher whose identity need not be primarily within the American scene.
- Marvin J. Rabin Community Service Award is given to an individual or organization who makes significant contributions to their community by their teaching and leadership.
- Paul Rolland Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual of renowned stature whose identity need not be primarily with the American scene.
- Student Chapter Award is given to an ASTA student chapter for exemplary promotion of strings in and around the university community.
- Traugott Rohner Leadership in the Music Industry Award is given to a string industry leader whose identity is primarily from within North America.
ASTA National Conference
Each year, ASTA organizes its national conference. The half-week event includes many activities such as conference sessions and exhibitions. Major performances in conjunction with the national conference are:
- National Orchestra Festival: The festival with orchestras around the United States to perform at the conference. The competitive groups are performed for placement within their own division: Middle School, High School, or Youth Orchestra. There is a Grand Champion for the Public School Division and one from the Private School/Youth Orchestra Division.
- National High School Honors Orchestra: Every two years since 1986, ASTA has included the National High School Honors Orchestra (NHSHO) to perform at the conference. The NHSHO performing group of 120 high school musicians are competitively selected by state chapters with up to 30 students from each chapter. The national committees then select the final list of up to 120 students to be in the orchestra. The orchestra rehearses at the beginning and performs at the end of the conference.
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- "Associate Professor of Music". Lawrence University. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Jensen, Hans Jørgen. "Meeting of Minds: Interview with Jeffrey Solow Part 1". String Visions. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
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- "National Orchestra Festival". American String Teachers Association. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "National High School Honors Orchestra". American String Teachers Association. Retrieved 20 December 2012.