Birch Bay String Teachers' Workshop
  • Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop

    The W-ASTA Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop is presented annually in Ferndale, Washington: a pleasant small town located fifteen minutes north of Bellingham, fifteen minutes from the beach at Birch Bay, and fifteen minutes from the Canadian border. Now in its 65th year, the workshop is designed specifically for school string orchestra teachers of all levels, grades 4-12. Participants range from first-year teachers to seasoned veteran teachers to retired teachers, many returning year-after-year. It is a supportive and inclusive community honoring the best practices in school string teaching. The goal of the workshop is to offer continuous, up-to-date, relevant in-service for teachers who are committed to self-improvement. The relaxed yet rigorous week allows teachers to interact with others who understand the challenges and rewards of the school orchestra setting.

    This year's workshop will be held from August 1-5, 2022.

    For further information you may call workshop director Chip Schooler at 360-280-2556
    or email him at:

    We hope to see you here! Click here to join the Facebook group page

  • 2022 Guest Clinician:

    Dr. James Mick

    Associate Professor of Music Education
    Ithaca College
    Ithaca, NY
    (extended biography)

  • Resident Faculty & Staff

    CHRIS BURNS, Bass Technique and Pedagogy

    Symphony Tacoma principal, University Place School District
    JOE DYVIG, Assistant Workshop Director, Bass Technique and Pedagogy
    Olympia School District, Symphony Tacoma
    LISA DYVIG, Viola Technique and Pedagogy
    Olympia Symphony principal, Symphony Tacoma, Private studio in Olympia, WA
    STUART HAKE, Cello Technique and Pedagogy
    Tacoma Opera principal, Annie Wright School
    REBECCA PELANDINI, Viola Technique and Pedagogy
    Bethel School District
    SVEND RONNING, Violin Technique and Pedagogy
    Professor Pacific Lutheran University, Symphony Tacoma concertmaster
    KATHERINE SARTORI, Violin Technique and Pedagogy
    Olympia Symphony, Olympia School District
    CHIP SCHOOLER, Workshop Director and Reading Orchestras
    Pacific Lutheran University, South Puget Sound Community College
    KRISSY SNYDER, Equipment and Facilities Manager
    Ferndale School District
    BRAIN WHARTON, Cello Technique and Pedagogy
    PNW Ballet Orchestra, Auburn Symphony principal

  • Conducting Masterclass

    The conducting masterclass provides an opportunity for participants to receive gentle, supportive coaching by our guest clinician, Dr. James Mick. Those wishing to take advantage of this opportunity will be assigned one movement of a standard string orchestra piece, and will be given 30 minutes of podium time with a small orchestra of their peers. To be considered for a conducting slot, please contact Chip Schooler and mark the registration form accordingly. Up to four slots are available on a "first come - first served" basis.

  • 2022 Workshop Schedule

    Click here for a printable (pdf) copy of this schedule.

    7:45 Registration
    8:30-9:50 Reading Orchestra
    Reading Orchestra
    Reading Orchestra
    Reading Orchestra #6
    Elementary Pieces
    Reading Orchestra
    10:00-10:50 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 James Mick
    Engergize Your Rehearsal
    11:00-11:50 Instrument Class Session 2 Instrument Class Session 2 Instrument Class Session 2 Instrument Class Session 2 W-ASTA Information & Workshop Wrap Up
    11:50 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Have a safe trip home!
    1:00-2:05 James Mick
    Rehearsal Pacing
    James Mick
    Preparing for the Podium
    James Mick
    Double Bass 101
    James Mick
    Programming with a Purpose
    2:15-3:10 Conducting Class Conducting Class Conducting Class Conducting Class
    3:20-4:30 Jim Rice
    Orchestra Class Fundamentals
    Reading Orchestra
    Reading Orchestra
    Reading Orchestra #7
    Standard Literature
    5:00 Get acquainted party & no-host dinner at Chihuahua Restaurant Free Evening No-host dinner at Bay Breeze Restaurant in Birch Bay BBQ at Birch Bay State Park (& maybe bonfire)
  • Accommodations

    Participants are responsible for their own lodging. A variety of accommodations are available in the Ferndale/Birch Bay/Bellingham area.

    The following three motels offer a special rate to guests reserving prior to July 18 when identifying themselves as Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop participants (please call for this rate):

    - Holiday Inn & Suites: 360-746-6844 (website link)
    - Hampton Inn (recently opened): 360-812-7200 (website link)
    - Best Western Plus: 360-676-7700 (website link)

    Condominium rentals near Birch Bay include:
    - Jacob’s Landing (condos): 360-371-5611 (website link)
    - Sandcastle at Birch Bay: 855-266-9386 (website link)

    - Campsites in nearby Birch Bay State Park, some with trailer hookups, may be reserved at the Washington State Parks website. (website link)
    - RV sites located near Ferndale may be reserved by calling the Cedars RV Park at 360-384-2622. (website link)

    Early reservations for campsites and RV sites are advised.

  • Registration, Fees, Credits, Location

    We recommend workshop pre-registration which may be done in two ways:
    1. Complete this PRINTABLE REGISTRATION FORM (in pdf format) and mail with your check or credit card information as directed.
    2. Complete this ON-LINE REGISTRATION FORM which has a link for payment through PayPal after the form is completed.
    You may also register onsite for an additional fee, provided space is available.

    Prior to July 12: $300 for non-ASTA members, $265 for ASTA members.
    After July 12: $340 for non-ASTA members, $300 for ASTA members.

    ASTA MEMBERS: Members of ASTA may attend two consecutive days for a reduced fee of $200.

    CLOCK HOURS: Thirty clock hours are available at no charge for WMEA members only. Clock hour arrangements may be made onsite.

    LOCATION: Ferndale High School: 5830 Golden Eagle Drive - Ferndale, WA 98248
    click here for link to Google Maps

    CANCELLATION POLICY: $200 of the workshop fee will be refunded if cancellation request is received prior to July 22, 2022. No refunds will be allowed after July 22.

    QUESTIONS: For further information you may call workshop director Chip Schooler at 360-280-2556 or

  • Dr. James Mick

    James Mick, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Music Education at Ithaca College in upstate New York. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in string pedagogy, orchestral rehearsal techniques, instrumental conducting, and the psychology of music teaching and learning. In 2020, Dr. Mick was awarded Ithaca College’s Faculty Excellence Award.

    A passionate music educator and ardent supporter of public-school music programs, Dr. Mick regularly works with public school students of all ages and abilities. He frequently conducts students in a variety of settings ranging from individual school and all-district events to all-county and all-state honor festivals. Recent and upcoming All-State orchestra appearances include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, and Wyoming. Internationally, he has worked with student ensembles in the United Kingdom and Belgium.

    In addition to his guest conducting appearances, Dr. Mick has served as music director and conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra since 2015. Prior to his involvement with the RPYO, Dr. Mick was the music director of the Ithaca Community Orchestra where he proudly worked with a diverse group of musicians representing a wide range of ages and experiences. His primary conducting mentors are Alexander Jiménez and Germán Gutiérrez.

    Originally a native of Kansas, Dr. Mick previously taught elementary and middle school orchestra in Texas, and high school orchestra and jazz in New York. He holds degrees from Florida State University, Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education; Ithaca College, Master of Music in Music Education; and, Texas Christian University, Bachelor of Music Education. Outside of his academic pursuits, Dr. Mick is an avid bicyclist who enjoys spending time with his wife, Elizabeth Moore, DVM, PhD, restoring their c.1883 downtown Ithaca home.

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AUGUST 1-5, 2022 - Ferndale, Washington