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 64th 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.

    2021 Update

    It's official!! The Birch Bay String Teachers' Workshop will take place at Ferndale High School August 2-6. Updated pricing for hotel accomodations are currently being negotiated, updates will be posted soon. Be sure to Register and check out our Facebook group page

    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

  • 2021 Guest Clinicians:

    Dijana Ihas

    Pacific University
    Forest Grove, OR
    (Ihas Bio)

    Gaelen McCormick

    Eastman School
    Rochester, NY
    (McCormick Bio)

    Miranda Wilson

    University of Idaho
    Moscow, ID
    (Wilson Bio)

    Please click on "Bio" to see extended biographies for each clinician.

  • Resident Faculty & Staff

    CHRIS BURNS, Bass Technique and Pedagogy

    Symphony Tacoma principal, University Place School District
    NICHOLAS CAOILE, Conducting Masterclass
    Professor Central Washington University,
    Wenatchee Symphony, Lake Union Civic Orchestra
    JOE DYVIG, 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
    South Puget Sound Community College (retired)
    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, Nicholas Caoile. 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 eight slots are available on a "first come - first served" basis.

    Nikolas Caoile

    Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras at
    Central Washington University
    Music Director and Conductor, Wenatchee Symphony Orchestra
    Music Director, Lake Union Civic Orchestra
    (Caoile Bio)

  • 2021 Workshop Schedule

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

    7:45 Registration
    8:30-9:50 Reading Orchestra #1 Reading Orchestra #2 Reading Orchestra #4 Reading Orch. #6,
    Elem. Pieces
    Reading Orchestra #8
    10:00-10:50 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 Instrument Class Session 1 Dijana Ihas
    Teaching RH Tech. & Musical Exp.
    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!
    12:50-2:05 Dijana Ihas
    Teaching Foundation & LH Tech.
    Dijana Ihas
    Historically Informed Pedagogy: Violin & Viola
    Miranda Wilson
    Historically Informed Pedagogy: Cello
    Gaelen McCormick
    Historically Informed Pedagogy: String Bass
    2:15-3:10 Conducting Class Conducting Class Conducting Class Conducting Class
    3:20-4:30 Teaching During Covid, Lessons & Successes Reading Orchestra #3 Reading Orchestra #5 Reading Orchestra #7, Standard Lit.
    5:00 No-host get acquainted party & dinner at Chihuahua's Free Evening No-host dinner (optional), location TBD Salmon BBQ & (maybe) bonfire at Birch Bay State Park
  • 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 10 when identifying themselves as Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop participants (please call for this rate):

    - Super 8 Motel, Ferndale: 360-384-8881 (website link)
    - Holiday Inn & Suites: 360-746-6844 (website link)
    - Home2 Suites by Hilton: 360-734-3111> (website link)
    - Best Western Plus: 360-676-7700 (website link)

    Condominium rentals near Birch Bay include:
    - Jacob’s Landing (condos): 360-371-5941 (website link)
    - Sandcastle at Birch Bay: 360-371-4900 (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: $335 for non-ASTA members, $300 for ASTA members.

    ASTA MEMBERS: Members of Washington ASTA may attend any two consecutive days of the workshop for a special fee of $175.

    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: $175 of the workshop fee will be refunded if cancellation request is received prior to July 12, 2021. No refunds will be allowed after this date.

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

  • Dijana Ihas

    Dr. Dijana Ihas is Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of Orchestral Studies at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. She is a Founding Director and Master Teacher of the nationally recognized Pacific University Music Education Project, that serves an under-privileged population of young students and trains future music teachers. Prior to becoming a college professor, Dijana was a successful public school orchestra teacher.

    A regular presenter on string pedagogy and string education topics at state, regional, and national conferences, Dijana is also frequently invited to guest conduct for school orchestra festivals around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Her publications have appeared in the American String Teacher (AST) magazine, Journal of String Research, and Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) Quarterly, among others.

    Dr. Ihas holds four degrees including PhD in Music Education and an advanced graduate level certificate spanning the disciplines of viola performance, music education, and conducting. She is also a registered Suzuki violin and viola teacher. In 2018 Dijana received the Pacific University Faculty Achievement Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service and in 2021 received the Oregon Music Educators’ Association Outstanding Music Educator award.

  • Gaelen McCormick

    Gaelen McCormick is Program Manager of the Eastman Performing Arts Medicine (EPAM) program, a part of the University of Rochester. Before joining EPAM in 2018, she was a musician with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1995-2017. Since losing her hearing in 2017, Gaelen has forged a new career path as a composer, arranger, and arts administrator. She is grateful that her abilities as a performing artist have shaped the way for her new career path.

    Teaching students of all ages has been a significant part of Gaelen’s life. She is the Instructor of Double Bass at the Eastman Community Music School and teaches career skills at the collegiate level in the Arts Leadership Program at the Eastman School of Music. Her double bass bow pedagogy series, Mastering the Bow, and her first book of compositions, Double Trouble, are published by Carl Fischer. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists and is the editor of their Bass World magazine’s teaching column.

    Gaelen holds degrees in performance from the Eastman School where she studied with James VanDemark and Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Jeffrey Turner.

  • Miranda Wilson

    Miranda Wilson is an internationally performing cellist and writer. As Associate Professor of Cello at the University of Idaho, she is also Co-Director of the UI Music Preparatory Division and Co-Artistic Director of the Idaho Bach Festival. The author of Cello Practice, Cello Performance (Rowman and Littlefield), she is also a regular contributor to Strings and American String Teacher. Originally from New Zealand, she studied at the universities of Canterbury, London, Texas, and Colorado. Her principal teachers were Alexander Ivashkin, Natalia Pavlutskaya, Phyllis Young, Andras Fejer, and Judith Glyde. Miranda lives with her husband and daughter in Moscow, Idaho.

  • Nikolas Caoile

    Nikolas Caoile holds degrees in conducting and composition, earning his Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan.  He served as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Salem Chamber Orchestra from 2012-2016 and has guest conducted many community and regional orchestras throughout Washington State.  In 2009, Dr. Caoile conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in collaboration with the Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses Dance Company at New York City Center.  He has also participated at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music where he worked with Marin Alsop and Gustav Meier.  In 2016, Caoile received the Outstanding Orchestral Achievement Award from the Washington Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.  Caoile regularly presents clinics at National Association for Music Educators Regional and State Conferences and has served as a presenter for the Seattle Symphony Pre-Concert Talk series.  His principal conducting teachers are Kenneth Kiesler, Gustav Meier, and Peter Erös.  

  • Sponsors

    Please click icons and help support their business:

AUGUST 2-6, 2021 - Ferndale, Washington