violins playing

Stephen BenhamStephen Benham is Professor of Music Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). He has degrees from the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Benham is an internationally-acclaimed clinician, speaker, consultant, and conductor with expertise in pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, teacher training, and new program development. His work has been featured in numerous international research seminars and conferences including ASTA, NAfME, and Society for Ethnomusicology, among many others. Dr. Benham is the author of the Yes You Can! A Survival Guide for Teaching Strings (Carl Fischer), co-author of Sound Innovations: Creative Warm-ups—Exercises for Intonation, Rhythm, Bowing, and Creativity,and lead author of the ASTA String Curriculum: Standards, Goals, Learning Sequences for Essential Skills and Knowledge in K–12 String Programs.He has also written several articles and chapters for scholarly publications, including handbooks and encyclopedias published by Oxford University Press and SAGE publications.Dr. Benham is an active consultant in the development of new music programs in communities without current string programs across the US, in addition to providing expertise to music education projects in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. He is a nationally-recognized leader having served in leadership positions in several states and is past-president of the American String Teachers Association.


Friday, January 25

7:00 – 9:00 Special Learners in the String Class

Saturday, January 26

9:00 – Programming Wide and Deep: A Reading Session of Compositions by Diverse Composers, Dave Eccles

10:00-12:00 – Middle School Teaching Strategies with the Phillips Middle School Orchestra

12:00 – Lunch

1:00 – Roadmap for Success

2:30 – Break

3:00 – The Lowdown on Lower Strings (hands on)

5:00 – Dinner (Where can we do this?)

8:00 – GSO Concert: “Favorite Love Stories” – Dana Auditorium
Jaime Leredo, violin; Sharon Robinson, cello; Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Violin
Dimitry Sitkovetsky, Conductor

Vivaldi Concerto for 2 viollins and cello in D Minor, Op. 3, No. 11
C. Brubeck Double Concerto for violin and cello
Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet Suite

Sunday, August 27

9:00 – My Favorite Orchestra Reading Session

10:00 – Motivating Students to Learn


Programming Wide and Deep: A Reading Session of Compositions by Diverse Composers

Access to more diverse concert music is one of the hallmarks of the information age. This reading session will feature educational and concert works composed by a host of multi-ethnic and multi-gender composers.

Special Learners in the String Classroom: How to Develop Strategies, Accommodations, and Opportunities for Diverse Learners

Exceptional students have incredible potential to both benefit from and contribute to a comprehensive string program. This session focuses on developing understanding of what exceptionality is, how to accommodate and plan for exceptional students in the string classroom, and transforming our perspective about the role and place of specialized instruction in music education.

Middle School Teaching Strategies

The ability to effectively connect with students at the middle school level requires special skills and understandings of the unique developmental, physical, and emotional needs of adolescent children. Outstanding middle school teachers have a wide array of strategies and teaching techniques to maximize the growth and potential of middle school age musicians. This demonstration session will provide specific examples of how to design rehearsals and instruction to maximize the performance of middle school ensembles. The session will include a discussion of:

  • Creative teaching techniques for addressing the unique and diverse learning styles of middle school students
  • Models of effective instructional delivery—demonstration of what the best teachers do to maximize teaching effectiveness
  • Curriculum design—skills, music choices, and artistic development
  • Rehearsal planning—understanding energy profile, teacher delivery, and student engagement
  • The unique developmental needs of middle school students—behavioral and developmental considerations

The Sequential String Curriculum: A Roadmap for Success

Teaching string technique in the orchestra is essential for building long-term success. This session is an overview and presentation of the sequence of string techniques, from the initial stages of development through the advanced levels. This session is designed for string teachers and orchestra directors who teach at multiple levels, and focuses on specific skills and strategies for each technique element. We will use the ASTA Curriculum as a model of how a curriculum can serve as both a guide and tool of assessment for student learning.

The Low–down on Lower Strings: Fundamental Technique for Beginning and Intermediate Students on Cello & Bass

This session is designed to address essential concepts for teaching beginning and intermediate cellists and bassists using creative techniques and correct sequential pedagogy. Targeted to any beginning and veteran strings teachers. Teachers are encouraged to bring their instruments.

  • Guiding Principles of Cello/Bass Technical Development
  • Posture, Body Format, Instrument Position
  • Left Hand Foundation Elements
  • Right Hand Foundation Elements
  • Left Hand Intermediate Techniques (Extensions, Shifting, Vibrato)
  • Right Hand Intermediate Techniques (Developing the Bow Hand)

My Favorite Orchestra Reading Session

Teachers will bring their favorite string orchestra piece to read as an ensemble. Bring your instrument to play! The goal is to share with others music that you have found effective in your classroom, and leave with some new ideas for programming in the future.

Motivating Students to Learn

Why are some students internally motivated while others are not? How can you motivate every student in your classroom? Why do different students respond so differently to the same classroom management techniques that seem to work for everyone else? This session will share best practice strategies that increase student engagement and motivation. Using culturally responsive teaching, increased student leadership, individual student strengths, and individualized behavior plans will be discussed.