Fiddling with the Orchestra Curriculum

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 22, 2006

by Julie Lyonn Lieberman

During the world’s second Alternative String Festival March 11 -13, world class alternative string players presented clinics representing at least 10 of the roughly 30 folk, world, jazz, and popular styles that feature strings. A brainchild of the American String Teachers Association, both the 2003 and 2004 Alternative String Festivals have drawn enthusiastic participation by string teachers, performers, and orchestra directors from throughout the United States.

My role on the 2003 planning committee and as chair for 2004 inspired me to develop a new book and clinic that could provide an overview of this burgeoning field. During the 2004 clinic, titled “Alternative Strings: The New Curriculum,” Bob Phillips (author and “father” of over 800 fiddle clubs in schools throughout America), Andy Dabczynski (co-author of Fiddlers Philharmonic), Renata Bratt (cellist and President of the Jazz String Caucus), Randy Sabien (jazz violinist and co-author of “Jazz Philharmonic”), and Daryl Silberman (Yamaha product specialist, orchestral strings) joined me. The session was kicked off with a performance by the Chattahoochee Fiddlers, a high school fiddle club from Georgia, directed by Jim Palmer.

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