Birch Bay String Teachers' Workshop
  • Covid-19 UPDATE
    from Workshop Director

    Updated news about our string teacher camp this summer:

    The Birch Bay String Teachers’ Workshop is cancelled for this year due to state regulations regarding gatherings and to the lack of a location due to school buildings being closed.

    That being said, if conditions improve we may be able to offer a shortened two-day event that first week in August. We wouldn’t have any information probably until mid-July, so this would be a “spur-of-the-moment” event.

    If you have a question, please don’t ask, because we have no answers, but you might keep the first week in August open.

    Stay healthy, safe, and sane as you wrap-up this crazy school year!
    - Chip

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

    Click here to join the Facebook group page

  • August 3-7, 2020

    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 62nd 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.

    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

  • 2020 Guest Clinician: James Mick

    Associate Professor of Music Edcucation
    Ithaca College, New York

    Dr. James Mick 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, psychology of music teaching, and contemporary ensembles.

    An active conductor and clinician, Dr. Mick has been invited to work with students in a variety of settings ranging from individual school and all-district events to all-county and all-state honor festivals. Additionally, Dr. Mick has been the music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra since 2015, which performs several concerts per year in various locations around the Rochester community including an annual side-by-side performance with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the past music director of the Ithaca Community Orchestra where he proudly worked with a diverse group of musicians who represented a wide range of ages and experiences. In addition to conducting, Dr. Mick has given professional presentations at a number of local, state, and national conferences across the country including recent engagements with the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference and The Midwest Clinic: An International Band & Orchestra Conference.

    Originally a native of Kansas, Dr. Mick has taught elementary and middle school orchestra in Texas, and high school orchestra and jazz in New York. He holds degrees in Music Education from Florida State University (Ph.D.), Ithaca College (M.M.), and Texas Christian University (B.M.E.).

  • 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

    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.  

  • 2020 Workshop Schedule

    This will be posted here soon. Below is a sample of last year's schedule.
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  • 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

    Pre-register for the workshop by completing this: online registration form (in pdf format). Send it with your check or credit card information as directed. You may also register on site for an additional fee, provided space is available. Registration includes all materials, refreshments, and salmon dinner Thursday night on the beach.


    Prior to July 13: $300 for non-ASTA members, $265 for ASTA members.
    After July 13: $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: $150 of the workshop fee will be refunded if cancellation request is received prior to July 9, 2018. No refunds will be allowed after July 9.

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

  • Sponsors

    Please click and help support their business:

AUGUST 3-7, 2020 - Ferndale, Washington