Author Archives: Charles Laux

Newsletter – 09/08/2017

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

Fall Workshop 2017

The GA-ASTA Fall Workshop will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at Clayton State University (in the Music Education Building and the beautiful Spivey Hall) from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

***All participants must RSVP via email to by Friday, September 1, 2017.***

ASTA members attend for FREE (so RENEW your membership now at Non-members may attend for ONLY $25.00.

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! Our Reading Session will be sponsored by J.W. Pepper. Make sure to bring your instrument! And of course, there will be prizes to win!

We are very excited to have returning Pam Tellejohn Hayes as this year’s Clinician! Pam is nationally recognized for her work in the field of music education as an orchestra teacher, author, clinician, consultant, and conductor. Mrs. Hayes is the recipient of both the Merle J. Isaac Lifetime Achievement Award from NSOA and the Elizabeth A.H. Green School Educator Award from ASTA. She has served as president of the National School Orchestra Association, the South Carolina Music Educators Association, the Orchestra Division of SCMEA and the South Carolina chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Mrs. Hayes is co-author of the comprehensive method book series Essential Elements 2000 for Strings and a violinist with the South Carolina Philharmonic. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wichita State University, a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and an Education Specialist certificate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina.

Reminder: ***All participants must RSVP via email to by Friday, September 1, 2017.***

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

Peace and Love,

Sam Lowder

Double Bass Symposium 2017

The annual GA-ASTA Double Bass Symposium XXVI is slated for February 3rd through 5th, 2017.

This year there will be two fantastic bassist as the main clinicians:

  • Prof. Kees Boersma Principal Bass of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australia
  • Prof. Joseph Conyers Assistant Principal Bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra

More information can be found at:

Meet the Nominated Officers for 2016-2018


Corie Benton is the Orchestra Director at Pope High  School in Cobb County, Georgia.  Mrs. began her teaching career as an Orchestra Director in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.  While in Plano, her orchestras received superior ratings at the annual University Interscholastic League (the equivalent to Large Group Performance Evaluation).

Mrs. Benton is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans, where she received her Bachelors Degree in Music Education. Since moving to Georgia, she has worked in Cobb, Clayton, and DeKalb counties.  While there, she increased exposure of the program in the county and within the school community.  Under her direction, the programs increased in size, became semifinalist for the GRAMMY foundation, received superior ratings yearly, presented a string workshop at the annual GMEA Conference, performed at the annual GMEA In-service, as well as students participate in various orchestras in the Atlanta metro area.

Throughout her tenure as a music educator, Mrs. Benton has been very active in the music community.  She has presented a workshop at Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service (2013); performed at GMEA In-Service twice and had students perform in 2015. As an active clinician and freelance artist; Mrs. Benton is a regularly requested Adjudicator at workshops and clinics in Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, Henry, Fayette and Gwinnett counties.  She is a member of MENC, GMEA and ASTA.

Nancy Conley is the Director of Music Education at Clayton State University, where she coordinates the music education program, teaches courses in music education, and supervises student teachers. In addition, she is the instructor of applied violin. Ms. Conley serves as the faculty advisor for the CSU Chapter of Collegiate NAfME (National Association for Music Education) and co-directs the Clayton County Honor Orchestra, an auditioned group comprised of middle and high school students.

Ms. Conley received the B.M. in music education and performance from Ithaca College and the M.M. in performance from Binghamton University. She is a candidate for the Ph.D. in music education with a viola performance cognate at Michigan State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Clayton State, Ms. Conley taught at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where she taught string technique and pedagogy classes and directed the National String Project. While at Crane, Ms. Conley developed a Musician Wellness course and the Lab Ensemble, a course that encourages pre-service music teachers to use improvisation, arranging, and composition in the classroom.

Before pursuing her doctoral degree, Ms. Conley was a public school music educator in upstate New York, where she taught elementary, middle, and high school instrumental music for seventeen years. An active performer while teaching, Ms. Conley played with the Binghamton Philharmonic, Tri-Cities Opera Company, and the Edgewood String Quartet. As a doctoral student, Ms. Conley performed with the Lansing (MI) Symphony, and was a member of the Orchestra of Northern New York in Potsdam while teaching at the Crane School of Music. She currently plays with string quartets in the Atlanta area.

Ms. Conley has taught in various summer music programs, including several years at the New York ASTA String Institute at Ithaca College. She has conducted Area All-State festivals in New York State, and served as a clinician at other school music festivals. Ms. Conley is a frequent clinician in Atlanta-area schools.

Ms. Conley has presented her research at the both the state and national level. Presentations in 2016 include the Georgia Music Educators In-service Conference, the American String Teachers Association National Conference, and the NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference. Her research interests include the use of improvisation as a tool for teaching and life-long learning, social justice in music education, teacher education, and musician wellness. Ms. Conley holds the certification for Music Learning Theory Elementary General Music Level One, and has completed teacher training for Suzuki Violin Level One and Two.

Ms. Conley is a member of the American String Teachers Association, College Music Society, NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, Suzuki Association of the Americas, and Mu Phi Epsilon.


Kinsey Edwards has been teaching orchestra eight years at Lanier Middle School in Buford, Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree in 2008 from Furman University, and her Master of Music Education degree in 2014 from the University of Georgia.  She presented at the Georgia Music Educators Association In Service Conference in 2009 and co-wrote an article about that same presentation that was published in the Georgia American String Teachers Association journal the following fall.  Kinsey was chosen as teacher of the year at Lanier Middle School and selected as one of 25 semifinalists for Gwinnett County in 2012. She also participated in the Gwinnett County Teachers as Leaders program in the same year.  Kinsey conducted the Oconee County District Honor Orchestra in Walhalla, SC in February of 2011 and also the GMEA District 3 Honor Orchestra Clinic in Columbus, GA in 2012. She is currently working towards earning her Educational Doctorate in Music Education from the University of Georgia and recently presented a Research Poster Session at both the 2016 Georgia Music Educators Association In Service Conference and the National Association for Music Education Research Conference.

Stephen Lawrence began his musical career at the age of twelve, studying violin, cello and later piano.  During his grade-school career, Stephen served as a concertmaster for several orchestras including the Loyola University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools Youth Symphony Orchestra, MYSO String Quartet, William Grant Still Memorial Orchestra, and many more.  At the age of eighteen, he graduated high school receiving the highest honors at North Atlanta School of the Performing Arts.

Stephen earned his bachelor’s degree at Loyola University New Orleans in Music Education specializing in String Education, under the guidance of Dean Angeles and Virginia Olander.  While pursuing his degree, he received awards such as the Gayle Merrick Jones Scholarship and the Wirth Music Scholarship.  During the summer of 2013 Stephen received his Masters in Music Education degree from the University of Georgia.

Currently, Stephen is the director of orchestral and guitar activities at North Atlanta High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Department.  He is also a board member the Local School Council at NAHS and a board member for the Fabrefaction Theater Company in Atlanta.  Stephen has served as a clinician and coach for orchestra programs in Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb County Public Schools, DeKalb County Public Schools, Gwinnett Public Schools and Henry County Public Schools. Stephen is also the 2nd violinist of the Idalia String Quartet.


Elisabeth Copeland recently completed coursework at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music for the degree Master of Music Education. Primarily a cellist, Elisabeth began study at the age of 7 in her 3rd grade school orchestra program. Since then, she has continued to find fun and exciting ways to be involved in music throughout high school, college, and graduate school.

During her graduate studies, Elisabeth specialized in teaching beginning strings to a wide range of ages, from 1st grade through collegiate undergraduates, teaching in both homogenous (violin only), and heterogeneous (violin, viola, cello, bass simultaneously) group settings. Elisabeth loves working with beginners, especially those in the ages near and around 5-8th grade, because she believes that setting up proper technique will lead to an extremely fulfilling musical life. Also, she believes nothing to be more fun than to watch students progress, learn, and engage in music through means of learning a musical instrument. She currently serves as an orchestra director at the Paideia School, Atlanta, teaching grades 5-12 strings.

Mr. Carl Rieke graduated from St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota) in 1997, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. He received his Masters Degree in Instrumental Conducting from Georgia State University in 2003.

From 1999 until 2006, Mr. Rieke was Director of Orchestras at Shiloh High School in Gwinnett County. While teaching in Gwinnett, he was a co-conductor of the Gwinnett County Youth Symphony. Under Mr. Rieke’s direction, the Shiloh High School Chamber Orchestra, Gwinnett County Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Strings, and the Southern Crescent Symphony were featured at the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) state conference. From 2006-2015, Mr. Rieke taught at Ola Middle School (OMS) in Henry County where he was named Teacher of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year.

Mr. Rieke has had the privilege to conduct many orchestra camps and clinics around the metro area and State, including the Encore music camp in Atlanta (of which he is now a co-owner), the University of Georgia Music Camp and fall festival, the Atlanta Suzuki Summer Institute, the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) summer camp, the Gwinnett Tapestry Festival, the Clayton County Honor Clinic, the New Ulm Minnesota Suzuki pops camp, and one of the 2009 Alabama All-State Orchestras.

Mr. Rieke has been an All-State Orchestra organizing chair for seven years and served as the GMEA Orchestra division chair (2007-2009). He was the GMEA Vice President of Performance Evaluations from 2013-2015. Mr. Rieke has also served as Secretary for the Georgia Chapter of ASTA and was named the Georgia ASTA “Orchestra Director of the Year” in 2010.

Elections coming soon…

2016 Chapter Awards

The Georgia ASTA chapter recognizes professionals and colleagues that have enriched the lives of young people. The board will award recipients on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at the annual luncheon.

The available awards are:

  • Educator of the Year
  • Advocacy Award
  • Industry Award (individual or business)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

If you would like to nominate a business or individual, please complete the application below by Friday, January 8th, 2016. Multiple nominees are welcomed, but each must have a separate application and rationale.

Click here to complete the 2016 GA-ASTA Award Nomination Form