A 2002 ASTA survey revealed that 24% of string jobs were not filled in the year 2000; in 2001 this had increased to 43%, and in 2002 47% of schools had string positions open due to a shortage of string teachers. The problem is clearly getting worse. In a recent American String Teachers Journal article ‘Wanted Nationwide: Qualified String Teachers’ Mary Wagner, a string specialist in the Fairfax, Virginia public schools and the current ASTA President, wrote in 2002 (‘Wanted Nationwide: Qualified String Teachers’, Glaesel String Notes) that ‘States such as Arizona, Texas, and Virginia could not fill the positions they had open this past year by the first day of school.’ The population of string teachers is aging, and the number of new string education graduates does not meet current demands. This national problem has greatly limited the number of children who are able to learn to play stringed instruments.
The NSPC is attempting to address this shortage of qualified string teachers with a plan that establishes teacher-training programs at universities throughout the country. Since it is the responsibility of one generation to pass on our culture and musical heritage to the next, the NSPC is working to insure the future of string players by increasing the number of young people who will be playing stringed instruments and experiencing the joys of music-making. The NSPC is also working to insure that there are sufficient numbers of teachers, in communities all over the country, who will be able to teach these children the art and technique of playing stringed instruments.
• Involving more children of public school age in learning to play stringed instruments
• Addressing the string teacher shortage
• Increasing the number of String Projects around the country
• Supporting these String Projects with national fundraising and grant writing
• Increasing national awareness for String Projects
• Improving communication among String Project sites and Directors.
• Providing an opportunity for children who live in school districts where string programs do not exist to learn to play a stringed instrument.
• Preparing children in the lower grades for placement in existing public school string and orchestra programs.
• Creating programs that give undergraduate and graduate music students hands-on, supervised experience in teaching, administration, and leadership as they pursue their degrees
• Providing experienced entry-level teachers for string programs.
• Facilitating the growth and development of string and orchestra programs in the public schools.
• Providing a safe environment for children and teachers involved in string education.
• Supporting music-making opportunities in an effort to combat school string program attrition and foster program growth.
• Providing by example a model for string program development on local, state and national levels.
The NSPC supports the creation and growth of String Projects at universities across the country. These String Projects provide practical hands-on training for undergraduate string education majors during their college years and give children the opportunity to study a stringed instrument.
The Consortium was originally formed in 1998 under the auspices of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). It is now an independent non-profit organization working together with ASTA and other music organizations to serve string education and string development across the United States.