Chapter 3 - American String Teachers Association

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DUANE H. HASKELL, FIRST PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, September 8, 1905. Received B.M. degree from Illinois Wesleyan, 1926;
M.M. from the Eastman School of Music, 1945; and Ph.D. from Indiana University, 1951. Studied violin
with William Kritch and Louis Siegel. Taught instrumental music in Rochester, New York, East High
School, 1930-45; head of music department. Northern Michigan College, 1945—49; chairman of
undergraduate and graduate music education department, Chicago Musical College, 1951—53; dean of
fine arts department, Arkansas State University, 1953—. Served as president of Music Teachers National
Association, 1957—59; received MTNA Distinguished Service Award, 1969; listed in Who's Who in
America.
REX UNDERWOOD, SECOND PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in New Auburn, Wisconsin, 1885. Received undergraduate degree at Chicago Musical College.
Studied seven years in Europe with Hans Becker and Michael Press; concertized in Europe; established
studio in Chicago. Professor of violin and director of orchestra at the University of Oregon, 1922—48;
professor of violin and orchestra. University of Portland, 1948—61. Died April 24, 1961. Extensive
concertizing in the United States; author of numerous publications in the field of string study; inventor of
many aids to finger and hand development, several of which were approved by the American Medical
Association for therapeutic use.
ERNEST E. HARRIS, THIRD PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Bom in Gadsden, Alabama, August 26, 1914. Received A.B. degree from Catawba College, 1936; M.A.
from Teachers College, Columbia University, 1940; Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University,
1944. Also studied at the Juilliard School of Music. Received Litt.D. from Catawba College, 1971.
Taught in public schools. North Carolina, 1935-38; Georgia Teachers College 1938-41; Teachers College,
Columbia University, 1941—. Member of executive committee of the National Music Council; prov-ince
governor of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity; author of many articles and books in the field of music
education; frequent consultant to school systems. Listed in Who's Who in American Education, Who's
Who in the East, and Who's Who in Music.
FRANK W. HILL, FOURTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in Rochester, New York, 1903. Received B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Eastman School of
Music. Violist with the Rochester Philharmonic for five years. Taught at Kansas State College, 1929-30;
Iowa State Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa), 1930—71. Editor of Phi Mu Alpha Sin f
onion; clinician and speaker throughout Midwest; author of textbooks; frequent con-tributor to
professional journals.
GERALD H. DOTY, FIFTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, October 3, 1909. Attended DePauw University; received B.M. degree from
Northwestern University, 1931; MM. from Northwestern University, 1936; Ed.D. from Indiana
University, 1962. Studied violin with Roland Leach, Arcule Sheasby, and Tossy Spivakovsky; studied
oboe with Alfred Barthel. Taught instrumental and vocal music. North Side High School, Fort Wayne,
Indiana, 1931—32; supervisor of instrumental music, Steuben County Schools, Indiana, 1932—33;
chairman of music department and teacher of chorus and orchestra, Shawnee High School, Louisville,
Kentucky, 1933-37; director of instrumental music. La Porte, Indiana, schools, 1937—41; director of
band, direc-tor of string methods classes, Indiana University, 1941—58; professor of music. University of
Montana, 1958—. Extensive performance experience as violinist, violist, and oboisi in quartets and
symphonies. Life member of MENC; active in many other professional organizations.
ROBERT H. KLOTMAN, SIXTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, November, 1918. B.S. degree from Ohio Northern, 1940; M.M. from Western
Reserve University, 1951; Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University, 1956. Teacher and
supervisor of music, Dola, Ohio, public schools, 1940—42; armed forces 1942—46; teacher of
instrumental music, Euclid, Ohio, public schools, 1942 and 1946; instrumental music teacher and coordinator of music, Cleveland Heights public schools, 1946—59; director of music education, Akron public
schools, 1959—63; director of music education, Detroit public schools, 1963—69; professor of music and
chairman of department of music education, Indiana University, 1969—. Performer (violin) with
Cleveland Philharmonic for seven years; conductor of Akron Youth Symphony; guest con-ductor and
clinician throughout United States; author of many articles and books; composer and arranger of nerous
works for school orchestras; editor of Orchestra News.
PAUL ROLLAND, SEVENTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in Budapest, Hungary, November 21, 1911. Education at Royal Hungarian Franz Liszt Academy of
Music, Budapest; received B.M. degree from Simpson College, 1943. First violist with the Budapest
Symphony, 1935-38; violist with the Pro Ideale String Quartet, 1936-40; Fellow, Westminster Choir
College, 1938-40; head of the string department, Simpson College, 1940—45; faculty member.
University of Iowa, 1944—4 5; professor of music. University of Illinois, 1945—. Concert violinist;
author of numerous articles; editor of American String Teacher, 1950—60; developer of new teaching
techniques for strings; clinician throughout United States; listed in Who's Who in Music.
HOWARD M. VAN SICKLE, EIGHTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, July 29, 1910. Received B.M. degree from the University of Wichita; M.M.
from Illinois Wesleyan University; D.Mus.Ed. from the Chicago Musical College. Taught in Pana,
Illinois, public schools, 1936-47; North Platte, Nebraska, public schools, 1947—48; professor of music,
Mankato State College, Mankato, Minnesota, 1948—. Founded Minnesota publication, String Stuff;
edited American String Teacher; performed as violist in community orchestras; founded Mankato
Symphony Orchestra. Frequent contributor to educational journals.
HARRY LANTZ, NINTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Bom in Chicago, Illinois, February 2, 1920. Attended North Texas State University; received B.S. degree
from University of Houston, 1949; M.Ed. degree from University of Houston, 1950. Assistant professor
of music. University of Houston, 1949—54; instrumental teacher, supervisor of instrumental music,
Houston public schools, 1955—69; professor of music. University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 1969-. Studied
cello with Carl Frueh, Walter Hermann, George Sopkin. Cellist in many orchestras and chamber groups;
founder and conductor of Houston All-City Youth Orchestra; guest conductor and clinician throughout
United States; frequent contributor to professional journals.
RALPH MATESKY, TENTH PRESIDENT OF ASTA
Born in New York, New York, January 4, 1913. Attended Juilliard School of Music; received B.S. degree
from Teachers College, Columbia University; M.M. degree from University of Southern California.
Studied violin with Mishel Piastre, Edouard Dethier; studied conducting with Ingolf Dahl; studied
composition with Bernard Wagenaar, Ernest Kanitz, Roger Sessions, Paul Creston. Professional violinist
in radio, television, and motion picture studios, 1943-53; supervisor of instrumental music, Compton City
Schools, California, 1948-63; assistant professor of music, University of Southern California, 1957-63;
associate professor of music. University of the Pacific, 1963—67; professor of music, Utah State
University, 1967-. Con-ductor of many youth and civic orchestras; author/com-poser of over one hundred
publications, including works for orchestra, chorus, college texts, string methodology, articles in
professional journals. Listed in Outstanding Educators of the U.S.A.
INTRODUCTION
A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN STRING TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: THE FIRST TWENTYFIVE YEARS
by Robert Alien Ritsema
The rise of orchestras and string instrument playing in the United States is a twentieth-century
phenomenon. Until World War II the major orchestras in the United States were almost completely
dependent upon "imported" players-musicians who had been trained in the conservatories of Europe and
who had subsequently been lured to the United States by the comparatively high wages paid by the
recognized fine orchestras in this country and by the prospect of a new socio-economic and political
climate. Hence, while there were prominent major orchestras in such American cities as Boston, New
York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, the conductors and a decided majority of the players were inevitably
European. American orchestras were, in other words, primarily European orchestras based in American
cities-to be sure, shaped and influenced to a degree by their locale, but, nevertheless, fundamentally "old
world" in background.
In the 1930's and 1940's those concerned about music on the American scene began to sense the
urgent need for American-trained string players if the orchestral life of America were to persist. With
more and more cities establishing their own orchestras and with concert schedules just beginning to
expand, it became apparent that the United States could no longer depend on importing a sufficient
number of musicians to meet the demand. Some steps had to be taken to produce capable musicians—in
particular, string players-in our own country.
The insufficient number of American-trained musicians was inexorably connected with the
developments in public school music in the United States. The basic premise behind the training of
musicians in Europe was to discover the talented student at an early age, to discipline him rigorously in
the art of playing his instrument, and to train him thoroughly in the rudiments of music. The United
States, a young country trying to establish itself as a separate identity, had little time in the schools for
such supposed "frills" as music and art. To be sure, the teaching of music in the schools had its early
supporters and pioneers, beginning as early as Lowell Mason in the Boston schools in 1837; but to use
school time and school personnel to teach. children to play instruments was considered hardly wise when
there were so many "important" things to learn. This was the prevailing opinion until near the close of the
nineteenth century.
In the late nineteenth century, interest in instrumental music began to grow in the United States.
Orchestras, bands, and chamber groups became more numerous, and touring groups, such as the
Theodore Thomas Orchestra, began to exert a strong influence on the musical taste of the American
public. As a result, around the turn of the century, a move to initiate orchestral training and school
orchestras in the public schools began.
Probably the biggest benefit to the rise of instrumental music in the schools was the incorporation of
the class method of teaching, which lent itself so readily to the public school situation. Dr. Albert
Mitchell, supervisor of music in the Boston schools, observed the class method of string instruction while
on a visit to England in 1908 and was very enthusiastic about its possibilities; thus, upon his return, he
introduced it in the Boston schools. At first he used the English method books in classes held after school
hours, but subsequently used his own method materials patterned greatly after the English books.
Mitchell's lead was soon followed by others. During the next two decades there was a tremendous
growth in the number of schools offering band and orchestra programs, with the orchestra emerging as the
more popular instrumental group. A survey conducted by Will Earhart, published in the United States
Bureau of Education Report for 1914, showed that out of 631 schools to which questionnaires had been
sent, 238 schools had active orchestra programs, while only eight reported band programs existing.1 Although these orchestras were not symphonic orchestras as we now know them, they, nevertheless,
involved string players. This ratio was fairly indicative of the overall situation at this time in the United
States. Musical groups, such as the Music Supervisors National Conference (later Music Educators
National Conference), were instrumental in promoting the musical movement. The 1920's saw the
establishment of national band and orchestra contests (1926 and 1928 respectively) and the assembling of
national groups, such as the National High School Orchestra; and instrumental music instruction reached
new peaks of excellence.
In the late 1920's and early 1930's the orchestra, which had initially achieved more prominence in the
schools, began to recede in importance and the band moved into command position. Fewer string players
were being trained, while the band movement gained momentum year after year. The reasons given for
this were numerous, and none told the story completely. However, some of the more obvious reasons
which helped to provide an insight into the situation were these: (1) the musical instrument industry began
to back the band movement in an extensive and intensive campaign to sell instruments; (2) the advent of
"talking pictures" forced most theatre musicians out of work and many of them turned to the public
schools to become band directors; (3) the national band contests held in the 1920's helped, through
competition, to establish an aura of great pride in excellence; (4) the evolution of high school and
intercollegiate athletics provided a natural setting for the showmanship of the marching band; and (5) a
sincere, dedicated, and organized approach to the business of selling bands to the American public was
launched by those active in the band field. These factual reasons, plus many, many intangibles, led to a
complete dominance by the band over the orchestra in the school environment as America entered the
fourth decade of the century.
This pattern, however, did not mean that the school orchestra had vanished when the United States
emerged from World War II in the mid-1940's. A report in the Music Educators Journal indicated that
there were approximately 20,000 school orchestras in the United States.1 Surely this represented a
phenomenal growth in the still relatively young program in the schools. However, the disturbing factor
was that there were in all some 238,000 schools in the United States2 and that the 20,000 figure
represented only a small proportion of the total school count. Concern about the limited number of
orchestral programs in existence and also their narrow scope, outreach, and inadequate functioning
became evident. The journals of the mid-1940's gave insight into the prevailing thinking of that period
relative to the situation. S. Turner Jones, writing in March of 1944, said:
One of the important differences between these two organizations (band and orchestra)
very seldom gets into print. In fact I have never seen it in print, and I have never heard
anybody mention this difference as existing much less as being responsible for some of the
increased popularity of bands, yet I believe that it lies in back of some of the trouble. This
difference is a psychological one, and is found in all meetings of the band and of the
orchestra. It is that of discipline at the rehearsals and at public appearances. The band,
because of necessity, works under a modified form of military discipline. The orchestra is
usually much more loosely managed. While on the surface it may appear that youngsters
should therefore prefer the orchestra with its smaller number of restrictions, still such is not
the case. The majority of people enjoy being led, they prefer to follow rather than lead, and
they remember the people who make them toe the mark and work hard. . . . The orchestra
conductor likes to think that the music his organization makes is superior mentally to that
made by the band, and that along with this superiority there goes a refinement of spirit on
the part of the individuals and on the part of the organization as a unit, and that this
refinement does away with the necessity for outside imposed discipline. This is partially
true, but not completely so.
Russell V. Morgan in 1948 stated:
Everyone knows that our string players are not as numerous nor as good as they were a few
years ago, and we are all wondering why such a situation exists. I have studied the problem
a great deal. .. ; and I do have some suggestions as to the cause of this lack of players of
stringed instruments.
First: The lack of interest in the home. Many parents feel that the violin is not used to a
great extent in musical performance. ... As the only musical organizations they see are
dance bands and stage units, we can easily see why they feel there is little place for violin
in present-day music.
A second reason is that the number of violin teachers who in past years made personal
contact in homes for the building of classes has declined to a startling degree .... There are
good teachers for the advanced and the artist students, but the number of teachers who, in
the various neighborhoods, take upon themselves the problem of initiating study has
declined enormously.
The third, of course, is the ever-present appeal of the school band with the uniform and
appearance at football games and many other public occasions where the orchestra cannot
appear.
The fourth point is the definite fact that it takes longer for a beginner on stringed
instruments to satisfy himself and his audience than it does for wind players.2
The need for effective teaching of string classes and some of the reasons for its
ineffectiveness were cited by Gilbert R. Waller:
America's greatest musical need today is the wide-spread development of amateur
orchestras (both school and community). We already have the greatest symphony
orchestras in the world, but they have been developed on something of the "cart before the
horse" plan. The general public is still unaware of the tremendous power of the orchestra
and its music because too few people understand its language or its instruments. In other
words, the American public supports and attends symphony concerts without knowing or
feeling the real reason for doing so.
We have very sensibly set out to make America musical through our public schools.
Around 1910 we began to harness the few musicians among the students into so-called
high school orchestras. But very soon, teachers found that they could develop a band with
much less effort and with much less training on their own part-and also that the public
would accept the fanfare and marching with enthusiasm. This led to a hasty shift of
emphasis (in some cases almost a conversion) to a band teaching program in many of our
schools. Consequently, we have produced a generation of high-school students most of
whom, upon enrolling in college, actually believe that a noisy march is about the world's
greatest music, that a triple-tongue solo on the cornet is "tops," and that the word orchestra
is synonymous with dance-band, and that stringed instruments are only for temperamental
oddities or Europeans who don't know better.
Ralph Rush concluded:
During the period just prior to World War II, so much stress was placed on developing a
cappella choirs and concert bands in the high schools that apparently the string choir of the
orchestra was left completely out of the picture. Now we are reappraising the results of this
carelessness and most thinking teachers are pooling their efforts to make up for this lost
time and misplaced emphasis.
Countless other articles were written suggesting reasons for the decline of interest in string teaching,
but probably one of the most basically honest approaches was evidenced in an article by Louis E. Pete,
who stated:
Titles of articles in various music magazines clearly show the trend in the music education
field with regard to the playing of strings. Many schools have discontinued orchestras-"no
string players," and many large schools, which in the past had complete symphony
orchestras, are using much simplified music and very small string sections and holding on,
hoping for some miracle to produce large, capable sections of violins, violas, cellos, and
basses.
Does it really matter what the true cause of the existing string shortage is? The War?
The extra-long period usually required to produce capable performers? Or are we
responsible-the music educators who found pseudo-satisfaction and much favorable
publicity in our capable bands?
I believe it to be the latter. We were concentrating on our bands, and weren't farsighted
enough to anticipate the present crisis, the lessening of ability on the part of our orchestras,
and the loss of interest by our constituents (the high school boys and girls).
With the exception of the final quotation, the tendency of these authorities seemed to be to place the
blame for the decline of strings on outside factors or persons. Surely many of the excuses used in the
1940's are still being overworked by string teachers. But there were also those in the mid-1940's who were
cognizant of the fact that string teachers could no longer hope for improvement in their fortunes through a
renunciation of the activities of their colleagues in the band field, but would instead have to act
constructively in their own field in order to remedy a fast-decaying situation. If indeed it were true that, in
the words ofJ. Harold Powers, beyond a doubt it will be through ... the restoring of strings to their
deserved place and their employment in orchestras that instrumental music will find its greatest
opportunity for meeting the challenge of postwar educa-tion,2 the string teachers of America would have
to polarize and inaugurate a constructive program based on excellent teaching.
It was significant that musicians were becoming sufficiently alarmed about the situation in strings to
write about it. In contrast, a survey, taken by Duane Haskell of articles appearing in the Music Educators
Journal during a ten-year period beginning in 1930, revealed that there had been "no articles written
which viewed the string situation with concern or alarm."3
Thus, the stage was set for a movement to develop. The need was apparent, and the time was ripe for
the emergence of a group dedicated to the advancement of string teaching and performing. Out of this
need arose the American String Teachers Association.
CHAPTER ONE
ESTABLISHMENT OF AMERICAN STRING TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
To conclude that the American String Teachers Association was the first organization aimed directly
at promoting string teaching and playing would be doing a great disservice to several pre-existent groups.
Both of the large school music organizations, the Music Teachers National Association and the Music
Educators National Conference, had long-established committees on string teaching and held regular
forums on current topics at their national and regional meetings. In addition, there were regional groups
whose sole purpose was the advancement of string playing and teaching within their geographical area.
Among these groups were the New York Violin Teachers Guild, the Kansas String Teachers Guild, and
the Michigan String Planning Committee. Evidence of their concern appeared in The Instrumentalist:
In 1942 . . . there was organized in Michigan a group known as the Michigan String
Planning Committee. The general dearth of strings was the basic raison d'etre. Called by
David Mattern and Earl V. Moore of University of Michigan, a positive philosophy of
action was set Up and things began to happen. Roy Underwood, Michigan State College,
was elected chairman.
Committees were set up to accomplish three things: (1) a questionnaire committee to
find out what the string resources were; (2) a committee on the teacher-training aspect of
the work; (3) a committee on publication to send out helpful lists of materials, etc.
In February of 1946 at the national meeting of the Music Teachers National Association in Detroit,
Michigan, groundwork for the new national string organization was laid. At a session of the violin forum,
a representative from the National Guild of Piano Teachers suggested that a group of similar scope should
be organized to promote string playing and instruction and volunteered the services of the piano teachers
in assisting in the organization of such a group. While those string players present at the forum agreed that
some sort of organization was needed in the string field, they were chagrined to think that a string group
should need the prodding and guidance of pianists in organizing.2 As a result, the group authorized the
creation of a committee of string teachers which would look into the feasibility of organizing a Violin
Teachers Guild. That committee consisted of Dr. Karl O. Kuersteiner, Dean of the School of Music at
Florida State College for Women at Tallahassee (now Florida State University), chairman; Rex
Underwood, head of the Violin Department, University of Oregon; Hugo Kortschalk, head of the Violin
Departments at Yale University and the Manhattan School of Music; and Duane H. Haskell, head of the
Music Department at Northern Michigan College (now Northern Michigan University).
This committee was charged with initiating correspondence with as many teachers and performers as
possible in order to ferret out ideas of the scope of and general program for a proposed national
organization and to determine if there were sufficient interest nationally to merit the formation of a string
group.
By a fortuitous coincidence, a considerable number of string instrument teachers (many of whom had
been at the Music Teachers National Association meeting in Detroit) were present at a number of the
sessions of the Instrumental Classes Committee during the Music Educators National Conference national
convention held in Cleveland, Ohio, in March of that same year. A presentation and demonstration by
George Bornoff at these meetings on the general topic of beginning violin class teaching stimulated the
group to heated discussion of the state of string teaching and helped prove that the future of string
instruments need not necessarily be dark. This informal discussion indicated that the time might be ripe
for a tentative formation of a national organization of string teachers; this movement was given impetus
by the report of actions taken at the Music Teachers National Association meeting. The string instrument
teachers decided to hold one final informal meeting of all interested persons at the Statler Hotel on March
30. At this meeting ideas resulted in concrete action.
To call this meeting an informal one is apparently a classic understatement. The meeting was held in
the ball room of the Statler Hotel, where workmen were busily laying rugs, setting up tables, and in other
ways preparing for the next event scheduled in that room. The nineteen people who were present sat in a
circle amid the confusion and expressed their collective concern over the lack of a string organization
which could serve both MTNA and MENC in a capacity similar to that of the national band, orchestra,
and chorus associations. Duane Haskell was elected acting chairman of the meeting and Marjorie M.
Keller, supervisor of instrumental instruction in Dallas, Texas, was appointed acting secretary. Dr. Karl
Kuersteiner reported on the recent organization of a planning commit-tee at the MTNA meeting, and
discussion then centered on the feasibility of planning for the organization of a national vehicle which
would be designed to serve both MENC and MTNA and would also include those, not members of either
organization, who were contributing to or interested in the field of string instruction.
Dr. Kuersteiner recommended the following general objectives for the proposed national
organization:
(1) Improvement of string pedagogy;
(2) To make known the meaning, function, and value of individual and group experience
with the music of stringed instruments;
(3) Development of professional relationships with other groups;
(4) Assistance toward manufacture and repair of stringed instruments.
These four objectives were accepted as tentative objectives, to which were added four others:
(1) To promote wider performance of chamber music and string orchestra literature;
(2) To provide opportunities for children in our schools to hear good string playing;
(3) To cooperate with college and university string departments in the development of their
teacher-training curricula;
(4) To modernize string materials.
The most effective methods of forming a group which would be national in scope were thoroughly
discussed, and upon determining that at least one representative from each regional division of MENC
was present at the meeting, the following motions were passed: (1) That an executive committee of four
be appointed to cooperate with the MTNA committee; and (2) That a committee-at-large should be
appointed which would serve as an advisory council to the executive committee. All those present at the
meeting were appointed to this committee-at-large. A listing of both committees' members follows:
Executive Committee
Karl O. Kuersteiner, Florida State College for Women, Tallahassee, Florida
Arnold M. Small, Department of Music, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Marjorie M. Keller, supervisor of instrumental instruction, Dallas, Texas, executive secretary and
treasurer
Duane H. Haskell, Northern Michigan College, Marquette, Michigan, executive chairman
Committee-at-Large
Maurice Baritaud, State Teachers College, Potsdam, New York
Alfred Boyington, Washington State College, Pullman, Washington
George Bornoff, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York
Arnold V. Clair, State Teachers College, Potsdam, New York
Frank W. Hill, Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Harry A. King, State Teachers College, Fredonia, New York
Howard Lee Koch, Brightwaters, New York
Thurber H. Madison, School of Music, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
George Poinar, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio
Cornelia B. Potter, Katonah, New York
Paul Rolland, School of Music, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
Melvin Schneider, Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Samuel W. Spurbeck, State Teachers College, Potsdam, New York
Rex Underwood, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Gilbert R. Waller, East Texas State Teachers College, Commerce, Texas
In order to meet current expenses, each member present donated one dollar to a fund established to
defray miscellaneous expenses. The executive committee was empowered to assess the committee-atlarge for additional funds if necessary. After a discussion of several titles for the organization, Howard
Lee Koch moved that that "American String Teachers Association" be adopted as the tentative name.
Frank Hill seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that each member present should receive the
minutes as soon as the executive committee could make them available. After each member had
thoroughly examined the minutes, he was to submit to the executive chairman suggestions, such as
additional objectives, purposes, aims. Suggested objectives were to be divided into two classifications,
general and specific.1 Thus, with a tentative name, a tentative set of objectives and guidelines, an
operating capital of nineteen dollars, and a commitment to spread the news about the organization to their
colleagues, the group adjourned and returned to their respective homes.
The follow-up was not long in coming. A letter, to which a copy of the minutes of the first meeting
was attached, was sent by the executive chairman to each member of the original group. It read as
follows:
April 23, 1946
A Personal Message from Your Executive Chairman:
Dear Friends:
The enclosed material gives us a starting point. I hope that each of you will give your
concentrated attention to the suggestions, ideas, objectives, and purposes. If we create a
real foundation, we may well hope to build an organization which can be a powerful force
in the American musical picture for many years to come.
After you have submitted your suggestions, I will arrange them into particular areas
according to their purposes. May I remind you that it has been suggested that you arrange
your suggestions according to whether they are General or Specific.
I hope that you will give thought to such ideas as membership requirements, methods and
means of contact-ing teachers, publicity, specific areas for which special committees
should be appointed, and plans for this year of formation.
There are so many directions in which we might proceed, that we must be careful that we
do not try to go in all directions at once. Therefore, let our present motto be "First things
first."
My sincere best wishes to all of you.
Sincerely yours,
Duane H. Haskell
Although there was not an immediate widespread response to the appeal of the executive chairman
for suggestions, there was apparently sufficient response to help solidify some of the general aims,
purposes, and guidelines of the association.
Proof of this is established in a letter from Haskell to Paul Rolland at the University of Illinois:
September 16, 1946
Dear Paul:
You have undoubtedly wondered just what has happened to the American String
Teachers Association movement. This will not be an exhaustive report on its affairs but it
will let you know that things are going along. Creating such an organization out of nothing
takes effort, time and patience. However, I feel most optimistic.
After thinking over the things which were said at Cleveland, and later reading over
letters which I received, I began to get the picture in my mind of just what the organization
might be. By this I mean, I began to see how it could be fashioned organically. How it will
function is a little different although mere form and operation are closely allied.
It appears that the national organization will really be a unifying instrument for groups
of subsidiary organizations. These subsidiary organizations may be city, state, or regional
according to which type of unit is most feasible. For example, the Michigan String
Planning Conference is a good example of a state unit. During the summer conference in
Ann Arbor, I presented the ASTA matter to the Michigan group and I'm happy to say that
they have pledged their full support to us. An example of a city group is the New York
City Violin Teachers Guild. We're working on that one. Such groups will function
autonomously but every member will be a member of the ASTA group and pay dues
directly to the national treasurer. The national group will meet each year during the winter
and the state, regional, and city groups can set their own meeting times. Probably the
Michigan plan is the best: a summer clinic meeting. After all, each regional group will
know best what fits its needs and interests and the national association's primary interest is
in getting local groups to function.
We can do little in publicizing ASTA until we attain more formal organization. Toward
this end I hope to get a committee started soon on drawing up a constitution. I hope to have
this ready for consideration by February when MTNA meets in St. Louis. If we can get a
few of the people together then, we can take a formal vote and launch the ASTA formally.
You'll hear more about this via a mimeographed letter soon.
In the meantime, you can be looking around you there in Illinois. You are in a key
position there at the University. Harding long (ago] organized the band clinic. Why don't
you begin to organize an Illinois String Planning Conference and stage a short clinic
meeting every summer? A letter to other colleges and state teacher colleges in Illinois will
undoubtedly draw a positive response. Tell them frankly that you are copying the
Michigan plan. Interest Stiven in giving the project University support just as Michigan
has done. From this point, I need make no further suggestions. All I can do is to urge you
to begin to plan and think about this. While the few of us on the executive committee lay
the groundwork by arranging relations with MENC and MTNA, people like you can do as
much if not more by beginning the organization of state units. It makes complete sense that
the impetus should come from state universities or state teachers colleges. However, in the
case of Illinois, I believe the University occupies a unique spot.
A short time ago I had occasion to summarize our ASTA efforts. Perhaps you would be
interested in the summary. Here it is:
(1) Name: American String Teachers Association
(2) Object: The advancement and promotion of string instrument study and performance in
the United States by means of discussion, research, publication, and the sponsoring of
performance of all varieties of string music in American school and community life.
(3) The organization shall consist of executive officers, an executive committee, and a
committee-at-large which will function in an advisory capacity.
(4) Financial support for the activities of the national organization shall be met from
membership dues. Although it is the plan of the national organization to encourage and
sponsor state or regional groups which will be subsidiaries of the national group, all
members of such subsidiary groups will be considered as members of the national group
and will pay membership dues directly to the treasurer of ASTA.
(5) Membership qualifications: This remains to be determined, but it will be given a broad
enough base so that most string teachers will find nothing to hinder qualification. At the
same time, certain standards will be established.
(6) Meetings: An annual meeting in conjunction with MTNA or MENC and regional
meetings organized along clinic lines during the summer where feasible.
This summarization is far from comprehensive but it at least gives us a picture of where
we may be going. To the general plan, an excellent suggestion has been made that we
individually compile a list of names of string teachers and music department heads who are
interested in string promotion, etc., and to these people send a letter which will present the
story of our association. These people will be invited to join the original group by a
donation of one dollar. Perhaps this might be considered as our present fee or dues, but
regardless of how we look upon it, it might enlarge our group substantially. What do you
think of this idea? Please let me know. In fact, let me know what you think of everything I
have mentioned.
I hope your school year has begun smoothly and that you aren't rushed to death; but,
considering the present crowded situation, I know that you are far too busy. However, it
takes a busy man to get things done and I'm counting on you.
Warmest regards,
Duane Haskell
Further evidence is seen in a mimeographed communiqué from the executive chairman to the committeeat-large:
November 14, 1946
To the A.S.T.A. Committee-at-Large:
The enclosed mimeographed material is an attempt to summarize briefly the present and
proposed status of the American String Teachers Association. It is a synthesis of ideas and
plans adopted in Cleveland plus additional suggestions submitted since the Cleveland
meeting.
Section I presents what we are and what we propose to do.
Section II presents a plan of organic organization which again represents a synthesis of
thought. This approach is quite sensible because we know that string planning committees
can be very effective within a state or a given region. We also know that some cities have
violin teachers' guilds which might be interested in joining ASTA providing they could
retain a reasonable degree of autonomy. Under this proposed plan, such organizations can
work with the national association without losing any control of their own local projects.
The national association is primarily concerned with promoting the organization of such
groups in areas where string interest remains at a low ebb. The national association
proposes broad objectives which the local groups may carry out in any way they choose as
long as they can show evidence that there is constructive activity. By stipulating that every
member of a local group who wishes to be considered a member of the national group pay
dues directly to the national secretary-treasurer, the national organization protects itself
from desuetude resulting from lack of financial support.
Section III requires little additional comment. Implied but not specified is an activity
which probably overshadows those listed and that is the lifting of morale of string teachers
by the presence in the country of a professional group which publicly devotes its entire
energy to string instrument promotion.
Section IV may bring forth some discussion and well it might. All members of the
committee-at-large were urged to submit ideas, opinions, suggestions, and criticisms. Most
have complied but only two have offered any suggestions regarding qualifications for
membership.
Section V is merely an attempt on my part to follow up the suggested organic
organization. A suggestion has been submitted proposing that we wage a campaign via
mail. Each member would write to a number of string teachers enclosing information
regarding ASTA and inviting the teacher to join by sending one dollar. If this enclosed
information is acceptable, it might be provided on a large scale for such distribution. A
membership application blank could easily be included. However, I shall not proceed with
such a step without the approval of the committee-at-large.
The foregoing paragraph leads me logically to a personal statement. I believe that we
have gone as far as we can go with our present provisional organization. I do not detect any
lessening of interest or support upon the part of the committee-at-large, but I am highly
conscious of my limitations in proceeding further. I have carried out the suggestions and
directions adopted at the Cleveland meeting. You have before you in the mimeographed
material, definite suggestions for further proceedings. However, you can all realize that
such proceedings are pointless until we formally organize beyond our present provisional
status. Such organization should include some sort of constitution, a set of bylaws which
will definitely define organic organization and function, and, finally, the activating of
several committees which shall work jointly upon these various organizational matters.
Therefore, I propose the following plan:
(1) As many as possible attend the MTNA meeting in St. Louis, February 27-28, March 12. If we cannot be present during all of that meeting, we shall try to set a specific date, as,
for example, Saturday, March 1, when we shall be in St. Louis.
(2)1 will arrange a room where we may convene.
(3) An agenda will be submitted to you, listing matters to be considered and acted upon.
(4) If you cannot be present, you will submit your voting proxy to any one of the members
who can he present.
(5) In order to ascertain just who can and who cannot be present in St. Louis, mark the
enclosed postal card and return it immediately.
(6) As soon as the cards are received, I will notify everyone of the results and plans can be
immediately set into motion.
In conclusion, let me clearly state that I am not discouraged with the progress of ASTA
up to this time. 1 merely believe that we have exhausted the possibilities of our provisional
status and we must now decide our future course. I have no intention of making any further
steps without your counsel. I accepted the post of executive chairman with the
understanding that I would receive your help and guidance. I have received such assistance
from most of you, and I appreciated that help very much. However, our future is up to
every individual member of the committee-at-large. Procrastination spells dissolution.
Therefore, I urge you to act. Return these postals and, if possible, write to me.
Sincerely yours,
Duane H. Haskell
Chairman, Executive Committee
American String Teachers Association
Although Haskell stated in his letter of September 16, 1946, that he "hoped to get a committee
started soon drawing up a proposed constitution," there is no record of such a committee having been
formally appointed. How-ever, Karl Kuersteiner, the chairman of the committee established by MTNA to
create a string organization, was apparently given the responsibility of drafting a proposed constitution;2
he was later aided by committee members Rogers Whitmore of the University of Missouri, Joseph
Kirshbaum of North Texas State College, Robert Hargreaves of Ball State, and Melvin Schneider of the
College of Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.1
Final organizational plans were set for the MTNA meetings in St. Louis in late February of 1947.
The string forums for this national convention were to be devoted, at least in part, to reports by the
officers and committee members of the provisional organization, tentatively called ASTA, and to the
formation of a permanent string organization. On February 28, 1947, in the Hotel Statler, St. Louis,
Missouri, the final meeting of the provisional organization was held. The minutes of that meeting follow:
Executive Chairman, Duane H. Haskell, called the meeting to order. Present were Marjorie Keller,
Dallas, Texas, and Karl 0. Kuersteiner, Tallahassee, Florida, members of the Executive Committee, and
the following members of the Committee-at-Large: Melvin Schneider, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Gilbert Waller,
Norman, Oklahoma; and Paul Rolland, Urbana, Illinois. In addition, the following interested guests were
present: Luther A. Richman, President of MENC; Clyde Vroman, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Louis Potter,
Urbana, Illinois; Ben Vandervelde, Salina, Kansas; Joseph Kirshbaum, Denton, Texas; and Waldemar
Geltch, Lawrence, Kansas.
(No exact report will be attempted on the first part of the meeting which consisted of a general report
of the ASTA situation by Chairman Haskell and a discussion of this situation by all who were present.
The visitors were cordially invited to offer comments upon all matters under discussion since they were
teachers of unquestioned repute who had come to the meeting because of their great interest in the
teaching and performance of stringed instruments.)
Karl 0. Kuersteiner of the executive committee presented a draft of a provisional constitution. The
ASTA members as well as the visitors gave this draft most serious study. After lengthy deliberation.
Chairman Haskell called the executive session into order. The visitors were invited to be present while
ASTA members transacted official business. The following specific steps were adopted unanimously :
(1) That the (Provisional) American String Teachers Association cease to exist at the
close of this session with the distinct understanding that its name, plan of organization, and
Provisional Constitution be recommended as the model for a string organization to be
considered for adoption by the MTNA String Forum at its official meeting on March 1,
1947.
(2) That the founders of ASTA be designated as charter members of the new string
organization; this to be formally voted upon at the meeting on March 1.
(3) That all records, official correspondence, and remaining funds be turned over to the
new string organization; this to be formally voted upon on March 1.
This concluded the official activities of the provisional organization known as the
American String Teachers Association.
Marjorie M. Keller, Secretary-Treasurer
(Provisional) ASTA
As had been stipulated, the next action on organization took place on March 1, 1947. Minutes of this
first official business session of ASTA follow:
Professor Waldemar Geltch, chairman of the MTNA Violin Forum, called the meeting to order on
the morning of March 1, 1947. He presented a brief review of the creation of a special committee which
had been appointed in Detroit in 1945 for the purpose of investigating the feasibility of creating a string
organization or violin guild. Members of the committee were chairman, Karl 0. Kuersteiner, Hugo
Kortschalk, Rex Underwood, Duane H. Haskell, and Waldemar Geltch. Chairman Kuersteiner was
requested to present a report of the committee's findings and recommendations.
Chairman Kuersteiner reported that it was the recommendation of the committee that the Violin
Forum adopt the plan and constitution of the recently disbanded American String Teachers Association as
the official pattern and form for a new string teachers association which would bring together all string
teachers in the United States. It was explained that the ASTA was a provisional organization, founded by
a group of string teachers meeting during the Biennial Convention of the MENC in Cleveland during
April 1946. This provisional organization numbered members of both MENC and MTNA. Chairman
Kuersteiner then introduced Duane H. Haskell who, in addition to being a member of the MTNA
investigating committee, was executive chairman of the (Provisional) ASTA.
Mr. Haskell briefly outlined the aims and objectives of ASTA and emphasized the fact that only with
complete cooperation of all levels of string teaching could a solution to our mutual string problems be
realized. Mr. Haskell called upon Chairman Kuersteiner to read and discuss the provisional constitution
which the ASTA had drawn up. A copy of this constitution was presented to every person present and a
lengthy discussion ensued.
It was decided that the body present should proceed into an executive session for the purpose of
taking formal action in the matter of setting up a string association. Chairman Kuersteiner of the MTNA
committee acted as chairman of the session. Rogers Whitmore moved, and Waldemar Geltch seconded, a
motion that the provisional constitution drawn up by ASTA be adopted as the provisional constitution for
a new organization. Since the provisional ASTA had disbanded on the previous day in order that it might
join with the new organization being formed, its title, American String Teachers Association, was
included in the Whitmore-Geltch motion as the official title of the new organization. The motion was
carried unanimously.
In conformance with the requirement of the adopted provisional constitution, a slate of candidates for
the positions of officers was recommended. Melvin Schneider moved, and Waldemar Geltch seconded, a
motion that the nominations for officers be closed and that the candidates recommended be unanimously
elected. The motion carried unanimously.
The newly elected officers present were introduced and assumed office immediately. Chairman
Kuersteiner turned the meeting over to President Haskell, who, after brief remarks, accepted a motion for
adjournment.
Initial officers elected at the March 1 meeting were Duane H. Haskell, Northern Michigan College,
president; Paul Rolland, School of Music, University of Illinois, first vice-president, Margorie M. Keller,
Dallas Public Schools, secretary-treasurer.
It was decided that ASTA would assume the duties of providing many of the string sessions at both
the MENC and MTNA national conventions. While ASTA has enjoyed remarkable cooperation with both
of these groups since its founding, it is interesting to note that there was some skepticism at first. Duane
Haskell talked informally with Raymond Kendall, president of MTNA, exploring ways in which MTNA
might provide financial aid to the young string organization, but MTNA had no legal machinery for
offering assistance and its funds were very limited. Haskell also spoke with Clifford Buttleman, executive
secretary of MENC, who expressed his feelings that the string group should be a part of MENC without
separate identity. These differences were resolved as ASTA gained financial independence and proved to
be an organization capable of drawing members from all levels of musical activity-from elementary
school teachers through professional concert artists-effectively promoting string instruction.
Chapter Two
The Haskell Presidency (1947-1950)
One of the aims of the young ASTA was to reach as many people engaged in string playing and
teaching throughout the country as was possible. To aid in accomplishing this, the framers of the first
constitution outlined regions within the framework of the national organization, similar to the
regionalization plan of MENC. Each region was to have an appointed chairman with the title of vicepresident, who was to serve as a member of the national executive board. Regional vice-presidents were
Arnold V. Clair, Rhode Island State College, Eastern region; Ralph R. Pottle, Southeastern Louisiana
College, Southern region; Elizabeth Green, University of Michigan, North Central region; Gilbert Waller,
University of Oklahoma, Southwestern region; Rex Underwood, University of Oregon, Northwestern
region; and Ralph E. Rush, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Wes-tern region.
The duties of these appointees, in addition to serving on the executive board, were to act as regional
clearing houses and resource personnel for all interested string players in their regions, to assist in
organizing state groups, and to aid in the dissemination of materials from the national office.
One of the first projects of the executive committee was to prepare a brochure outlining the nature
and scope of ASTA and to distribute it to string players with the purpose of enrolling new members. The
regional chairmen were to lend their aid as follows:
Each regional officer will compile a mailing list of people in his area; in order to assist in the
preparation of such lists, within a few days I will send you the names of the people in your area who gave
us their names in the St. Louis meeting. This will avoid duplication. As soon as the bulletins are available,
I will send a supply directly to you with envelopes. If you do wish to add a mimeographed letter, by all
means do so. Keep an account of your mailing expenses and submit it to the secretary-treasurer; you will
be reimbursed.1
The brochure was printed in June 1947, and forwarded to the executive officers with the following
cover letter stating the procedures for distribution and instructions on supplementary materials:
June 24, 1947
To All ASTA Executive Officers:
Under separate cover, you are receiving a supply of the ASTA Bulletins which have just
come off the press. In addition, you are receiving a supply of ASTA letterheads for your
official business. I regret that it was impossible to supply you with envelopes.
You have undoubtedly compiled a list of people to whom you wish to send Bulletins.
May I suggest that we approach this matter on a selective basis rather than attempting to
broadcast these Bulletins in large numbers. The reason for my suggestion is obvious. In
order to compile an active list of interested persons, will you please send me two copies of
your mailing list. I will keep one on file and the other will be sent to Miss Elizabeth Green
who has consented to act as our chairman of publicity. Attached to this letter is a list of
names of people from your area to whom I am sending Bulletins. They comprise the
people who attended the St. Louis meeting and, in addition, a group who have written to us
regarding ASTA. Attach these names to your list, but send them nothing additional.
I know that several of you plan to include additional mimeographed material with the
Bulletins. By all means, feel free to do anything of this nature. After all, the organization
of your areas is squarely up to you. May I suggest that you include the following facts in
such regional mimeographed material:
(1) Until such a time as our constitution may define our official year, July 1 to July 1
shall constitute a legal year. Membership cards shall be dated 1947-48.
(2) Plans for organizing regional units need not follow a prescribed design; however,
several areas have been organized through the medium of string conferences or clinics
sponsored by cooperating colleges, or state university music education departments.
Experience teaches us that each region will vary slightly in its approach but the general
pattern of the conference or clinic seems to succeed very well. If anything is done in your
area, you will have to take the initiative.
(3) ASTA is well launched in several states and this is a matter of record. New regional
organizations are being set up in Indiana and Iowa. Don't be afraid to start with a small
group because, once started, it will grow.
(4) The national association serves to unite regional organizations, and individuals who
are not affiliated with regional organizations; however, the national association leaves all
planning and execution of plans to the regional groups. This means again that it is squarely
up to each regional vice-president to carry on and get things started. The national officers
will give all assistance possible.
(5) The primary function of the national association, in addition to the matters presented
in the above paragraph, is to lay down overall plans, plan the national meetings at either
MTNA or MENC conventions, promote research, publication, and publicity.
Perhaps the items presented under (1), (2), (3), (4), and (5) are a restatement of previous
Bulletins, but at all times we must keep clearly in mind the things which each group can or
cannot do.
In dealing with membership applications, the following procedure will be observed:
applications will be sent, as directed, to Mrs. Keller. She will deposit the fees, record the
name and address, and then send the application to the chairman of memberships, Mr.
Melvin Schneider. Mr. Schneider will, in turn, send the application with his O.K. to the
regional vice-president for approval, and the regional vice-president will send the
application to the secretary-treasurer. The secretary-treasurer will then issue the
membership card. This procedure seems to suggest considerable machinery and time
involved; however, this is actually a streamlining of the procedure as suggested at the St.
Louis meeting. Perhaps a much better procedure can be worked out in the future. The fact
is that it is reasonable to assume that few of the applications will be questioned in any way.
Kindly keep a record of postage purchased for all business matters and file a statement
with the secretary-treasurer from time to time. We plan to pay-as-we-go. An additional
supply of Bulletins is still available and will be sent to you when you need them. No more
Bulletins will be printed until we see some results from your efforts. The next six months
will be the crucial period. I am most hopeful and optimistic. By all means, let me know of
your plans. Do not hesitate to write to me if there is anything which I can do to assist.
Sincerely,
Duane H. Haskell, President
American String Teachers Association
Apparently this brochure was a work of faith, as is indicated by the first financial report of ASTA
issued July 30, 1947. An initial operating capital of $17.17 was, reported on February 20, 1947; this fund
was very quickly reduced to $1.90 by immediate expenditures. Thus Duane Haskell wrote:
On a separate sheet is an accounting of expenses I have incurred. As matters now stand, I
have advanced $97.70 for the items listed in the expense account. At such a time as our
cash balance totals this item, I authorize you to pay to Duane H. Haskell the sum of $97.70
to cover this advance of cash. Under the terms of our present constitution, the national
president has the authority to direct the national secretary-treasurer to expend money up to
the sum of one hundred dollars without consulting the executive officers. In the present
case, a copy of this letter will go to each officer in order that each officer will know exactly
how and why the money has been spent. Let it be clearly understood that I am not pressing
for the payment of this money; however, I have a feeling that our dues will create a fund
far beyond this sum.
There is little record of the activities in the months succeeding the publication of the first official
ASTA brochure. However, it seems safe to assume that active pursuit of new members was of prime
importance during these months, especially among those string teachers and players who had achieved
national reputations. Duane Haskell, responding to a letter from Paul Rolland wrote:
Your observation that we do not have a conservatory man among the executive officers
is perfectly true. We should immediately begin to establish personal contacts with some of
the outstanding teachers. You have mentioned, for example, Joseph Knitzer. Since you are
personally acquainted with him, why don't you write him a personal letter including a
Bulletin and explain to him in a personal way our hopes and aspirations for the welfare of
strings. I would like to go so far as to ask you to make this a special project. During the
ensuing summer, I wish that you would make a small list of some of the outstanding men.
If you can establish a favorable impression with one or two, the rest will be easy.
The summer of 1947 also saw the establishment of the first official state unit of ASTA. Although
there were state groups of string players meeting prior to this date, the Indiana group was the first to
organize officially under the provisions of the ASTA national constitution. Organization of the group was
promoted by Robert Hargreaves, a charter member of ASTA, in Muncie, Indiana, in July 1947. Other
state groups were not long in organizing. Iowa, Illinois, and Texas were the next official state units to be
recognized.
One of the first national responsibilities of ASTA was the planning and presentation of the string
forums at the MTNA meeting in Boston in late December 1947. This responsibility was the result of
formal action by the MTNA board at its March 1947 meeting;
It was moved by Demmler, seconded by Adams, that the MTNA extend cooperation to
the newly organized American Association of Teachers of Strings in having that group
meet with MTNA at its annual convention. Motion carried.2 This resolution, soon to be
followed by similar action by the MENC, established ASTA's role at annual conventions
of both groups up to the present.
At the MTNA meeting in Boston ASTA's topic for discussion was "The University and College
Must Lead the Way in String Planning and Promotion." Principal speaker was Gilbert Waller, speaking on
the subject "The University of Oklahoma Meets the Challenge of Diminishing Strings"; this address was
followed by a panel discussion in which several prominent string teachers participated. In addition to the
forums centering around the general topic mentioned, ASTA held its first annual official business meeting
at the MTNA convention. At this meeting the association voted unanimously to become a member of the
National Music Council and adopted the revised constitution which was presented by K. O. Kuersteiner,
chairman of the constitution committee. The original constitution was not altered radically, but the revised
document clarified certain obscurities and provided additional guidance for meeting situations which had
arisen during the first year. The duties of secretary-treasurer were distributed among three officers,
designated as treasurer, recording secretary, and corresponding secretary. The recording secretary's duties
included serving as general membership chairman and the corresponding secretary was named as director
of publicity. The executive board was reorganized so that it consisted of the national officers, the six
regional chairmen, and one state representative from each of the recognized state units. Incentive for state
groups was provided by the inclusion of the statement that fifty cents of the annual membership dues paid
to ASTA by the individual members of a state group was to be remitted to the state organization. ASTA
dues were held at two dollars per annum for an active and associate membership, ten dollars for a
contributing membership, and one dollar for a student membership.
In a report on the activities of the first national meeting Duane Haskell wrote:
In order to bring concentrated effort to the realization of the specific purposes of the
association, listed under Article I of the constitution, four permanent commissions and four
special committees are now officially designated. Commissions are indicated in those areas
where activities will continue permanently, while committees are designated in those areas
where objectives may be realized within a reasonable time. The commissions are (1)
commission on research, (2) commission on standards, (3) commission on publication, and
(4) commission on organization and planning. The special committees are (1) committee
on college and university string programs, (2) committee on elementary and secondary
school string programs, (3) committee on artist performers and teachers, and (4) committee on private teaching.
I am happy to report that the commission on research is organized and functioning.
Plans for the other commissions are drawn. ... It would be in no way inappropriate for any
member to write to me requesting that he have an opportunity to share in the projects of
our commissions and committees.
There were apparently no elections held at the Boston meeting, and national officers remained the
same as in the previous year. However, shortly thereafter in a letter to Marjorie Keller, Duane Haskell
wrote:
In accordance with the stipulations of the Constitution of the American String Teachers
Association... I am formally complying with the requirements regarding the offices of
recording secretary and treasurer by appointing Mr. Frank W. Hill as acting treasurer as of
April 1, 1948. This appointment will continue until the next official election. ... As agreed
upon, you will henceforth serve as recording secretary and membership chairman until the
next regular election.
This action was confirmed in a letter to Frank W. Hill officially appointing him to the post of
treasurer and outlining the duties of his office.
The next official function of ASTA was to organize and coordinate the string sessions at the MENC
meeting in Detroit in April 1948. An ASTA meeting at which the Juilliard String Quartet played and a
series of five string workshops at which Gilbert Waller presented demonstrations of public school string
work were featured at this convention. After each demonstration a round-table discussion featuring
prominent string teachers from throughout the country was held.
Although the meeting at Detroit was not an officially constituted national business meeting, there
were apparently ideas discussed which were important to the growth of ASTA. Minutes of and/or reports
from the meeting are not available, but in a letter, dated May 5, 1948, Haskell wrote to Paul Rolland:
Looking back over our decisions in Detroit, I feel very sure that we are heading in the
right direction. In the matter of publication, etc., I want you to feel free to proceed in any
manner in which you wish.
The matter of publications was of major concern to ASTA even in the early days of the organization.
Much of the correspondence indicated a strong feeling for the need of a national journal in strings, and the
dissemination of articles, lists, etc., to all members was of prime importance. A postcard sent to all
members from Paul Rolland in June 1948 read:
Your name and address on the reverse side has been submitted to this office [commission
of publications] so that materials published and distributed by ASTA may be mailed to
you. We wish to have our mailing list in good order by September. ... A variety of
materials will be sent out beginning next fall.
Most of the materials sent out by ASTA during the year 1947-48 were pre-existing works thought to
be of merit 11 and of interest to string teachers. Original materials commissioned and sponsored by ASTA
were to come later.
The first official magazine printed for the information of ASTA members was a publication called
String News, published under the sponsorship of the division of extension of the University of Illinois.
The first issue of this magazine was published in the spring of 1948 under the general editorship of Paul
Rolland, aided in subsequent editions by associate editors Gilbert Waller, Wolfgang Kuhn, and Louis
Potter. Although this magazine was primarily a publication for the state of Illinois, it did include national
ASTA news and was available to all members of the national organization.
The Texas String News, a publication similar in style to the Illinois String News, was first published
in fall 1949 by the University of Texas under the editorship of Albert Gillis and Marjorie Keller. Both of
these publications served as preludes to the national magazine, and as such provided a most important
source of information to ASTA members.
Meanwhile, membership continued to grow. In the President's Newsletter of October 1948 Duane
Haskell wrote:
Some time ago our membership passed the three hundred mark and we now have
members in forty states.
The third annual meeting of the association (with the organizational meeting in St. Louis
in 1947 designated as the first annual meeting) was held in Chicago at the Hotel Stevens in
late December of 1948 as a part of the MTNA convention. At this meeting the post of
corresponding secretary was filled for the first time by the election of John Lewis from
Texas State College for Women. Marjorie Keller, charter secretary-treasurer of ASTA and
president of the Texas chapter, relinquished her post as recording secretary to Ernest Harris
of Columbia University. Haskell, Rolland, and Hill were re-elected to their positions of
president, vice-president, and treasurer respectively. Re-ports were heard from the
commission on research, the commission on publication, the commission on standards, and
the committee on string service and supplies. Among other things these commissions tried
to outline special projects and reports to which ASTA should be addressing its attention
during the next several years. Examples are (1) the preparation of a glossary of bowing
terms; (2) the violin as an instrument—essential knowledge of its adjustment and
equipment; (3) a scientific analysis of string intonation; (4) the genealogy of string
teaching methodology; (5) the preparation of a list of outstanding methods used by
foremost string teachers in each state; (6) a decision as to standards of string instruments—
cost, quality, specifications, measurements, strings, etc. The third meeting was the first to
be recognized nationally as of real importance to the field of music in general. The 1949
May-June issue of The Music Journal printed the four papers read at this meeting, and the
resultant publicity did much to attract new members to ASTA.
As is the case with most organizations, as numbers grew, the internal organization became more
complex and subject to criticism. This fact is evidenced in a letter written February 5, 1949, by Duane
Haskell to Paul Rolland:
It would be easy for us to allow the unavoidable irritations of our ASTA responsibilities
to generate personal frictions but I sincerely hope we can avoid this. . . . There are no axes
which I could possibly grind. The farther I go with ASTA, the less I can benefit from my
time and effort spent on its behalf. . . . Many people probably feel that there are certain
material benefits to be derived from the prominence gained from being the president of a
national association. If there are such benefits, they have somehow missed me. No
fabulous offers have so far appeared and about all I can show for my time and effort is a
bad case of fatigue, sinus infection, and a suggestion from my boss that maybe a little more
effort here would be good for all concerned. So, Paul, when it comes to axes: I'm getting
one but it is in my neck. I also get blamed for all the things which our members think we
should be doing and that we are not doing....
The same letter also laid the groundwork for the relationship of ASTA to commercial agencies:
I am still opposed to socking commercial organizations heavily for associate
memberships. Rather, I would prefer that they be offered associate memberships at the
regular fee with no strings attached or implied. If they have to pay more than the regular
fee, they will demand (and should) something in return. Violins are never going to sell the
way brass instruments sell because they simply do not wear out the way brass instruments
wear out. Therefore, we can never approach the advertising of stringed instruments in the
same way. Even if we provided mailing lists to the dealers, it is doubtful that they could
reap a great harvest. In the long run, it will be wiser to keep this a professional
organization with all that that implies and simply avoid commercial promotion.
Haskell's ideas on this point have proved to be the basic philosophy of ASTA to the present day,
even though cordial relationships with commercial firms have been enjoyed. Mailing lists are available
only to those firms or individuals paying a specified fee for the use of the lists.
An interesting project sponsored by the committee on supply and repair in 1949 was an effort to
establish an ASTA seal to be placed on all string instruments suitable for student use. Correspondence
among Duane Haskell, Paul Rolland, Ernie Seeman (chairman of the committee), and Willebald Conrad
Stenger (violin and bow maker) outlined plans for a personal appraisal by Stenger of every instrument
offered for sale. An actual seal to be placed on the instrument would testify to the fact that it had met
certain qualifications and was thought to be of sufficient quality to merit ASTA approval. Dealers were to
elect this service, and a modest fee was to be paid for each appraisal. Despite much planning, the idea
never came to complete fruition—a fact which is somewhat unfortunate. Although the idea of having a
representative personally examine and place a seal on every instrument sold suggests a staggering amount
of time, it surely would have helped greatly to standardize and improve the quality of the many "school"
string instruments. ASTA did, in later years, cooperate with MENC in setting up minimum standards for
instruments, but this of course still left a wide-open field for many poor quality instruments which the
other plan would have avoided. With the growth in ASTA membership, certain services which had been
offered gratis by individual groups or persons were necessarily curtailed. The area of publications was
foremost among such services. In a letter dated June 8, 1949, to all ASTA members, Paul Rolland stated:
All members should receive free of charge materials provided by ASTA. Materials of
this type are Correct Basic Violin Measurement by W. C. Stenger; Minutes of the Annual
Meeting; Material Questionnaire; the ASTA Constitution; and the president's letters.
Materials listed below [a list of some twelve publications by University of Illinois
professors], published at the University of Illinois, have been sent to members free of
charge prior to April 15, 1949. Considering the size of our ASTA family and the evergrowing demand it will be easy to understand why the University of Illinois had to
discontinue free distribution of this material. To cover production cost a small charge had
to be made, and members of ASTA will receive any or all of the following material at cost.
. . . The String News will be sent to members free of charge as before.
This was the forerunner of a policy which exists today; payment for the organization's magazine is
included in the members' dues, while other publications are available at a nominal fee.
Membership continued to grow in 1949. In a report published in the fall of 1949 there were
approximately five hundred members, with a breakdown in membership which included 38.6 percent
college, university, or conservatory members; 50.1 percent public and parochial school members; 3.6
percent professional performers; and 7.7 percent private teachers. A list of forty-six former members who
did not retain their memberships in 1949-50 is surprising in that it included such names as George
Bornoff, Leo Kucinski, Olaf Steg, Rogers Whitmore, and K. 0. Kuersteiner, all of whom had been active
in the organization from its inception. Some were later to rejoin, but this does suggest that there was
perhaps some disinterest or disenchantment within the group's founding fathers.
By mid-1949, in addition to the state groups cited earlier, there were organized state chapters in
Wisconsin, California, and Oklahoma, with embryo units in Washing-ton and New Mexico. Michigan and
Ohio were added to the fold before the year's end. These groups were active in sponsoring string meetings
at regional MENC and MTNA meetings, and thus carried on the work of promoting strings in their
specific areas.
As February 1950 approached, bringing ASTA to its fourth annual meeting, the terms of the
founding officers were drawing to a close. An organization which had begun with nineteen concerned
people meeting four years previously was now a group of over five hundred, financially stable, with a
program which was just entering its productive years. As Paul Rolland wrote to Duane Haskell in a letter
dated February 5, 1950:
Looking back to the few years that we have spent together as executives of ASTA, I cannot
help but have a little heartwarming satisfaction for the progress made. . . . The everincreasing membership speaks for some of the good things achieved, and as president you
held the wheel firmly in your hand.
Chapter 3
The Underwood and Harris Presidencies (1950-1954)
The second phase of ASTA commenced at the fourth annual meeting held, in conjunction with
MTNA, in Cleveland in late February 1950. At this meeting the following officers were elected:
president, Rex Underwood, School of Music, University of Portland; vice-president and membership
chairman, Duane Haskell (the constitution provided that the outgoing president assume this post);
recording secretary, Ernest Harris; corresponding secretary and publicity chairman, Phyllis Weyer,
DePauw University; and treasurer, Frank W. Hill. These officers assumed their positions at a time when
the membership numbered approximately five hundred and the treasury, while not by any means
bountiful, was sufficient for ASTA's current activities.
Unobubtedly the most important feature of ASTA activities in the years 19J50—51 was the
establishment of the official national journal. While the need for a jour-al had been recognized much
earlier and extensive discussion and planning had centered on this subject, now size of membership
demanded its establishment and the treasury was capable of supporting it.
First mention of the journal by the "new regime" is found in a letter from Rex Underwood to Paul
Rolland dated July 11, 1950. In it he stated:
I know that we are all agreed upon the desirability of having an official ASTA
news organ of some sort as soon as possible. You undoubtedly have given
considerable thought to the type of publication most desirable, both from the
standpoint of content and practical considerations such as cost.
You, Duane, and Frank, I know, have discussed the matter and between you
have the facts to go on such as our treasury resources, present and estimated future,
size, and frequency of issue, etc. For that reason I am requesting Duane to take up
the matter with you . . . My own opinion is that if there is the slightest chance of
making the venture possible, we should go ahead. We then have a basis upon which
to really campaign for members with something tangible to sell. I shall be glad to
hear what you think is feasible and to help in any way that I can. Your noteworthy
success in U. of I. publications is a guarantee of interesting ideas from you.
In his reply, dated August 4, 1950, Rolland wrote:
As you know we have discussed the matter of a publication for ASTA. This issue
came up first in Chicago, and I recall that you were present in that meeting. The
main reason we did not go ahead with this venture was—according to Duane—
finances and insufficient size of membership. Some time ago Duane put it this way,
that if we hit the 1,000 mark we should have a paper. As we near this number, I
believe you are right, that we should make definite plans for a paper. Duane has
written some time ago from Bloomington shaping such plans, which were focused
toward printing this paper in Bloomington, similar to the Indiana Music Educators
Bulletin which is of rather small size with type somewhat hard to read. Duane did
not believe that we can foot the bills of a publication similar in appearance to the
String News.
Whatever your decision will be in regard to this project, 1 would like to make
it very clear that while I would be happy to assist or take charge of an official
ASTA news bulletin, I would not make any claims that this privilege is coming to
me either by power of my office with ASTA as chairman of the commission on
publications or by reason of experience with similar publications at U. I. Before
you make your final decision on this matter, please consult Duane to make sure that
any assignment that you might give me does not interfere with any plans he has
entertained previously.
Apparently there was no misunderstanding on this issue, as Underwood wrote on August 6, 1950:
I hasten to answer you that Duane is very anxious to have you take over the
editorship I mentioned and I know that he has no other previous plans. We are all
agreed that you are the man for the job if the paper seems to be possible ... We
cannot afford to continue much longer without our own publication and wish you
would go into the matter of costs as soon as possible. I like the format of your
String News and wish we could handle it but I have not the slightest idea of costs.
Haskell concurred in a letter to Rolland on September 7,1950:
I think Rex is leaving it up to you, with my help, to launch a journal. Why don't you
get an estimate of the cost of an initial issue and let me know. We'll shoot the
works if necessary. I'm convinced that we need a journal.
Although there was general agreement on the need for an official bulletin, there was considerable
disagreement on the proposed date of first issue, method of printing, the use of advertising, etc.
Underwood favored publication in time for the December 1950 meeting of the association, while Rolland
and Haskell thought this would result in a hasty and careless publication. Haskell did not favor advertisements in the magazine for fear of losing the "independence" of the association, while Underwood and
Rolland favored the sale of advertising space. Accordingly, Rolland wrote to Ernest Seeman, chairman of
the commission on supply and repair, on October 6, 1950:
It is logical that you should be the contact man between the commercial interests
and ASTA. Therefore I would like to ask you to accept the honor of being an
associate editor of this new enterprise with the definite assignment to collect
advertisements for the new paper, to organize such material and send it to my office.
Because Rex Underwood gave me the signal to act, I am writing this authorization
without any further reinforcement from the higher officers. If you or I will not
receive contradictory orders from the above ten days from date, we shall consider
this action legal and binding. For title I am planning to use American String
Teacher. I don't like ASTA Journal title as it is noncommital for the uninitiated.
Apparently this title proved acceptable to all concerned as it was adopted.
The action indicated in Rolland's letter of October 6 was negated by another letter to Seeman on
October 15. Rolland wrote:
I am asking you to hold any further action in the matter of the ASTA bulletin until further
notice. Frank Hill has objected against involving ASTA in heavy expenses. Therefore the
whole thing will have to be gone over in a meeting that will take place in the near future.
However, Hill, writing to Rex Underwood on October 18,said:
Our treasury is building up fast. We now have over $600 and dues are still coming in in
fine shape. ... I personally would be all for a publication such as you outline. 1 don't know
what the cost would be because I don't know Paul's ideas, but I feel we could go $300
without any qualms.
Apparently this was the assurance needed, as Rolland wrote to President Underwood on October 23:
We now have a consensus of opinion for publishing the American String Teacher for the
Washington meeting. [December 1950] . . . My heart would bleed to pass up the
opportunity to fill up the treasury from advertising receipts in the first issue. Seeman
cannot do a thing for me now but I will try to go after this myself. With advertising we
might get by with less than $300. Without it-I don't know. I must warn you that expenses
will exceed that of cost of printing alone.
Expenses indicated were those of secretarial help, mailing costs connected with the assembling of
materials for the magazine, etc.
Requests for bids on printing the journal were sent on October 25, 1950. Bids were asked on an
eight-, twelve-, and sixteen-page publication which would appear three times yearly with an estimated
circulation of 2,000. The proposed journal would include some pictures which were not to exceed ten
percent of the total space.
For several weeks in November 1950, correspondence among the members of the ASTA executive
board was concerned mainly with the establishment of the journal. A report to Underwood on a meeting
held at Greencastle, Indiana, on November 5 and attended by Rolland, Haskell, Phyllis Weyer, and
Marshall Howenstein indicated the following:
We discussed every possible angle of the journal publication and found ourselves in
complete agreement on the following ... a journal should be published to be ready around
December 18. We felt that further delay would accomplish nothing but criticism .... After
discussing the printers, types of paper, relative costs, etc., we agreed with Paul that the
Danville, Illinois, firm [Interstate Printers and Publishers, Inc.] was the most practical.
Acting upon the authority which you placed in our hands, we have given the "go" signal.
Underwood replied in a letter to Rolland on November 14,1950:
If you all decided that it is financially and otherwise possible to issue a paper at once—
God bless you. Of course I am for it under those circumstances .... As far as I am
concerned now, the paper is in your hands.
Thus what was without doubt one of the biggest ventures launched by ASTA was given approval,
and final prepara-tions for the first issue were initiated.
A progress report was forthcoming from Paul Rolland in a communique, dated November 28, 1950,
to Under-wood, Haskell, Hill, and Weyer:
All material to go in the American String Teacher is in shape now and will go to the printer
tomorrow. 1 think we will have a pretty good paper, ready on the 20 or a little before. Now
a few items that need discussion: (1) I checked into entering the paper as second class at
the post office. That would save quite a bit, however, at this point we cannot go ahead with
it. Publications must appear at least four times a year before you can apply for a secondclass permit. This would mean an issue in December, March, June, and September. Then
we would have to deposit $50.00 with the application. With the application should be a
certified copy of the ASTA constitution, including a resolution ordering publication of the
paper. (2) The first issue will run twelve pages; this is by the way less economical than the
eight- or sixteen-page version because there is loss of paper. The prices quoted originally
were for 2,000 copies; since we decided on having 3,000 copies . . . the new figure for
twelve pages is $259.60 plus engraving costs. I have lined up quite a few pictures to make
the first issue attractive. Also there will be some art work and engraving cost in the first
issue that will be held over for future issues. My guess is that the cost will be over three
hundred for the first issue. However, we have about $150.00 worth of advertising from
only four firms, which is an indication that this aspect could be developed a great deal
more. (3) We could have four issues a year only if the news collection will increase a great
deal, and if I would get more help. I would need a person to take care of the advertising
job, and a circulation manager. A colleague of mine. Professor Walter L. Roosa, has
helped me with the composition, and I have asked him to accept the honor of becoming an
associate editor along with Phyllis. He is a fine gentleman, an intellect, and will be a good
addition to ASTA in which he plans to take an active part .... Please advise as to mailing of
the first issue of the journal. My plan is to mail so that people get it after the 25. could have
it mailed at once, i.e., on the 19, but then some would get it before the Washington meeting
and we would lose the punch of surprise. Let me know.
The first issue of the American String Teacher, Colume 1, Number 1, January 1951, was sent in late
December to all members of ASTA as well as to many other string players in the hope of stirring up
interest in membership. This first issue contained statements by such nationally known players and
teachers as Marshall Howenstein, Ottakar Cadek, and Joseph Knitzer giving their viewpoints on the
necessity of an organization such as ASTA; a long president's report; statements from ASTA officers;
news from state units; an article on Meadowmount by Elizabeth Green; and many other informative
columns on the goals of ASTA as well as on the state of string playing in the United States.
The masthead of the journal featured the title American String Teacher imprinted over an excerpt
from the finale of Beethoven's string quartet, opus 135. Paul Rolland explained his choice of this excerpt:
To this motive Beethoven subscribed these words: "Es muss sein!" It must he! Perhaps
these much discussed words signified Beethoven's gruff acceptance of his housekeeper's demand for weekly house-money; or they may express his gleeful celebration
of a belated payoff from a thoughtless amateur. Perhaps they signified his reluctant but
resolute acceptance of the necessity for ending the quartet with the conventional fourth
movement. Probably his grim humor admitted on a parity both artistic and monetary
grounds for being resolute. In the same spirit we could well adopt the three words as a
motto, dedicating our skill and our resources to the preservation and furtherance of that
mastery of stringed instruments which is the foundation of all orchestral and chamber
music.
The first issue listed all executives of the association as well as editor, Paul Rolland, and associate
editors, Walter Roosa and Phyllis Weyer. In addition, listed as contributing editors, ex-officio, were
regional chairmen Arnold Clair, Rhode Island State College (Eastern); Ralph R. Pottle, Southeastern
Louisiana College (Southern); Daniel Back-man, Vancouver, Washington (Northwestern); Walter L.
Haderer, University of Oklahoma (Southwestern); George Poinar, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory (North
Central); and Wesley E. Woodson, El Cajon, California (California-Western). Also named were the
following state-unit presi-dents: Joseph Kitchen, Coe College (Iowa); Sylvan D. Ward, Chicago (Illinois);
Romeo Tata, Michigan State College (Michigan); Joseph Kirshbaum, Tyier Junior College (Texas); Sister
N. Noraleen, Alverno College of Music (Milwaukee Regional); Marshall Howenstein, West Lafayette
(Indiana); Wesley Woodson, El Cajon (California); Billie Huffsmith, Oklahoma Baptist University
(Oklahoma); Rudolph Sucharda, Los Lunas (New Mexico); and Clifford Cook, Oberlin Conservatory
(Ohio).
Thus, the first issue of the American String Teacher was launched, and it has proven to be one of the
most outstanding publications of its kind. The need for it had been expressed since the inception ofASTA,
and the entire year of 1950 had been devoted almost exclusively to its development.
While primary interest had centered around this publi-cation, other projects were being explored and
previously established functions were being maintained. Another venture in publication was undertaken
during this same year when Rex Underwood agreed to edit a monthly column on behalf of ASTA for the
Instrumentalist maga-zine. This was yet another means of acquainting thousands of school musicians with
the name of ASTA and it proved very effective.
The fifth annual meeting of ASTA was convened in Washington, D. C., December 27-30, 1950, in
conjunction with the MTNA annual convention. ASTA programs at this convention included discussions
of contemporary string music and the problem of preparing students for its performance; the use of radio
music teaching; teaching strings at the elementary and intermediate levels, etc. Forums, panels, and clinics
were led by Louis Krasner, Samuel Applebaum, Joseph Maddy, Reginald Stewart, and many other ASTA
members. Items of interest in the business meetings included discussion and approval of a resolution
passed by the National Music Council which invited ASTA to join that group in a nationwide study of the
advantages and disadvantages of having local symphony players work cooperatively with the schools in
the teaching of string instruments. A motion to ask the National Association of Schools of Music for its
support in urging all colleges and universities to require a string pedagogy course for all string majors in
the bachelor of music degree program was approved. The report of the commission on standards, dealing
with the minimal competencies of string teachers, was approved with the recommendation that it be
published and sent to all teacher-training institutions. With a membership now approaching nine hundred,
ASTA was becoming a force which could have a major influence in promoting changes in the string
education programs in the United States.
An important step in the coordination of string promotion through a combination of agencies was
initiated in February 1951 when the National String Planning CommiMee was organized. It consisted of
eight members-two from each of four organizations: ASTA, MTNA, NASM, and MENC. This committee
was comprised of Frank W. Hill and Clifford Cook representing ASTA; Gilbert Waller and Angelo
LaMariana representing MENC; Duane Haskell and Paul Rolland representing MTNA; and Karl Ahrendt
and G. Burdette Wolfe representing NASM. The main purpose of this group was to integrate the efforts of
the various organizations in string promotion, and, as can be noted by the names of those appointed to the
committee, ASTA was the one common ground for all of them.
The problem of sufficient funds to carry on the mushrooming activities grew increasingly acute in
the early 1950's. The number of memberships was steadily in-creasing, but dues had not been increased
since the charter of the organization. The number of mailings, printing of materials (including now the
American String Teacher), and general organizational expense were all heavy drains on the treasury.
Although Treasurer Frank Hill wrote in a letter to the executive board on March 31, 1951:
Of course, my good friends, we all realize that the fact we are operating on the
proverbial shoestring must be kept forever dark, . . .
There was a consensus that something must be done. Suggestions proposed for discussion by various
board members included raising of dues, abolishing the regional chairmen's posts, and establishing a
nominal fee for the many materials (at this point eight items) which were being sent to each member free
of charge. A welcome note of relief came in Paul Rolland's letter (dated March 28, 1951) to the board. In
the letter he announced both the impending publication of the second issue of the American String
Teacher and the fact that he had secured over three hundred dollars' worth of advertising for the issue—
more than enough to cover printing costs. However, the problem of the budget remained serious and was
not to be resolved until the next annual meeting.
The beginning of another significant activity of ASTA was reported in the second issue of the
American String Teacher under the heading "String Teachers National Conference, August 20 through
September 2, 1951, Interlochen, Michigan":
The University of Michigan Extension Service in cooperation with the ASTA will
conduct a special con-ference on (1) methods of individual instruction, (2) en-semble
materials and performances, (3) class instruction including organization and materials,
(4) string orchestra, (5) repertoire coaching and individual lessons. A three-day festival
of orchestra and concerto performance is scheduled in conjunction with the National
Civic Symphony Vocation Assembly, August 30 through September 2, 1951. The
faculty includes Ottokar Cadek, professor of violin. Univer-sity of Alabama; Joseph E.
Maddy, president. National Music Camp; Orien Dalley, lecturer. University of
Michigan; and others as enrollment warrants.
The idea of such a summer workshop was first mentioned by Mrs. Reuben Tower of Kenosha,
Wisconsin, who as a member of the committee on private teaching spoke about it to Mrs. Duard Sexton.
She, as chairman of the committee, presented it to ASTA in the committee report in Cleveland in 1950.
Frank W. Hill and Paul Rolland, in cooperation with Orien Dalley and Joseph Maddy, were instrumental
in promoting this venture. Rolland also served as faculty member at the workshop, while Hill served in an
administrative capacity. From only eighteen registrants in its initial year, the workshop expanded greatly
and has served as a model for numerous similar ASTA summer workshops in other parts of the country.
At the close of 1951 a resume indicating the growth of / ASTA was submitted by membership
chairman Duane , Haskell. It was sent to all executive board members on, December 29,1951.
,
REGION ACTIVE ASSOCIATE STUDENT
Eastern 150 18 15
North Central 461 31 61
Northwest
48 4
3
Southern 151 14 35
Southwest
138 10 2
California-Western 38 3 1
Outside U.S.A.
1
1
0
TOTALS:
987 81 117
TOTAL MEMBERSHIP: 1,185
States having organizational status or those on the verge of organizing were New York, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Kansas, and also a city unit in Milwaukee.
The program for the 1952 convention held in Dallas, Texas, in February of that year proved to be the
most ambitious one yet attempted by ASTA. String players and teachers from throughout the country
were brought to Dallas to perform contemporary pieces for violin, viola, cello, and various chamber
ensembles. Performers included such prominent artists as Paul Doktor, Gabriel Magyar, Beta Urban,
Robert Gerle, and Paul Rolland. Henri Temianka presided over two sessions on the art of string teaching
and practicing, and panel discussions were held on the question: How May the Private String Teacher and
the Public School Class Teacher Work Together to Serve the Needs of Youth? Several constitutional
changes were approved at the business sessions. The most important changes were the increase of active
membership dues to $3.00 and student membership to $1.50, the addition of an article to the bylaws
designating the American String Teacher as the official journal of ASTA, and the naming of the editor as
an official member of the executive board.
Elected as new officers at the convention were Emest E. Harris, Teachers College, Columbia
University, president; Ralph R. Pottle, Southeastern Louisiana State College, recording secretary; and
Clifford Cook, Oberlin College, membership chairman.
An important by-product of the convention, and the result of a year-long project, was the publication
by ASTA of A List of Contemporary String Music. This list, available to ASTA members for fifty cents
and to all others for one dollar, was compiled by Paul Rolland with the assistance of many ASTA
members and was the subject of innumerable letters between executive officers regarding feasibility of
financing it, publications, etc.
Another noteworthy project during the years of 1952-1953 was the proposed establishement of a
national string playing competition for young people, sponsored by ASTA and backed financially by
several leading string instrument companies including William Lewis and Son, Scherl and Roth, Lyon
and Healy Harps, Rembert Wurlitzer, and Kenneth Warren and Son. A total of four thousand dollars was
to be made available for prizes in this competition. A special committee, including Bela Urban, chairman,
Duane Haskell, Paul
Rolland, Kenneth Warren, Heinrich Roth, Reuben Olson, and Otto Leppert, was charged to organize
the competition and determine age limits, prizes, requirements, etc. In exchanges of letters among
members of this committee there were many differences of opinion as to age limits, categories for
performance, nature of awards, and coordi-nation with other national programs. At a meeting in Chicago
on December 12, 1952, however, an open ex-change of ideas brought about general agreement that the
competition should be geared to the high school age level and that there should be several qualitative
levels of achievement within that age span. Since it was already late in the year, the suggestion was made
that a pilot project be carried on in the state of Illinois for that current year, with full implementation of
the national competition in the school year 1953-54.1
It seems, however, that this entire project was never to be realized fully despite the many months of
work on it. In his president's letter in March 1953, Ernest Harris wrote:
Earlier plans for the project were to offer opportunity to students of string instruments to
compete for an award in the form of a thousand dollar scholarship for further study or a fine
instrument valued at that amount. In view of the fact that the basic purpose of ASTA is to
improve, encourage, and promote string teaching and performance in America, the executive
committee feels that to merely award a few of our most talented students a fine instrument or
scholarship would have very little effect on the develop-ment of strings . . . With this in mind
the commission on ASTA awards, in cooperation with interested dealers, is working on an
award for the outstanding string program of the year. . . . Such an award will give national
recognition to the teacher, children, school and to the community. ... An award recognizing, at
the national level, the work of the private teacher is also being planned.
Oddly enough, despite the financial backing of a number of leading musical firms, the many
meetings, discussions, letters, and questionnaires dealing with the subject, and the definite need for a
national program of recognition to help foster the string image, the plan was never implemented. To be
sure, some years later, in 1959, ASTA instituted an annual award to a leading string teacher-performer,
and a few years later a distinguished service award was estab-lished, but the original idea was not brought
to fruition.
The continuing struggle to achieve a balance between string teaching at all levels and professional
performance was brought to the foreground by means of a resolution passed by the Illinois unit of ASTA
on November 29, 1952:
Be it resolved that the Illinois unit of ASTA go on record as stating that it is hoped and
strongly urged by this group that national meetings will place emphasis on teaching
rather than on the performance aspect of string teaching, that this group sees as the real
and urgent responsibility of ASTA to emphasize the importance of ASTA in
relationship to music education, and that it is hoped that speakers and panel members at
the national meeting will take a realistic view of their responsibilities toward students,
emphasizing the potentialities of a teaching career rather than the limited opportunities
of a concert or professional career.
This plea apparently was too late to have much effect on the program of the 1953 convention in
Cincinnati, since most of the sessions there dealt with solo and group performance. Significantly,
however, there was a long session conducted by Elizabeth Green and Norval Church demonstrating
homogeneous and heterogeneous string class teaching beyond the elementary level, and Ernest Harris
spoke on the subject "The Responsibility of the String Teacher to All Youth."
At this convention Harris announced a completely new arrangement of ASTA commissions,
replacing all previously established commissions. The essential plan of organization was to have each
commission consist of a central committee of approximately six members and a ten-member large
committee. For each commission there was to be a national chairman and co-chairman. Commissions
established and chairmen appointed were commission on research: Paul Oncley, chairman, Ottokar
Cadek, co-chairman; commis-sion on teacher education: chairman pending, Morrette Rider, co-chairman;
commission on chamber music: Angelo LaMariana, chairman, Charles Arnold, co-chairman; com-mission
on community and youth orchestra: Marvin Rabin, chairman, Cecile Vashaw, co-chairman; commission
on private teaching: Blanche Schwarz Levy, chairman, Mrs. Mary Sexton, co-chairman; and three
pending commissions: the commission on publications: Kenneth Byler, chairman; commission on
parochial schools; and commission on awards: Bela Urban, chairman.2
The summer ASTA workshop, held in 1951 at Inter-lochen, Michigan, developed into an annual
program. The second and third sessions in the summers of 1952 and 1953 saw sizable increases in the
numbers of string players attending and in the diversity and quality of faculty. Serving as faculty during
these years were such notables in the string field as Ottokar Cadek, Joseph Fuchs, Louis Potter, Frank
Hill, Joseph Maddy, and Orien Dalley.
There was also continuing stress on the issuing of pertinent publications for the benefit of ASTA
members. Correspondence throughout the years 1950—53 spoke constantly to the point that one of the
prime functions of ASTA should be the preparation and publication of documents designed to help string
teachers and performers develop a strong string program. Twelve ASTA publications were listed by the
end of 1953:
(1) Results of Material Questionnaire, Number 1 (1949)
(2) Compilation of Violin Dealers and 'Repair Price Lists (1948)
(3) Preparing Hie Public School Teacher for His Job, Rex Underwood (1949)
(4) A Sfring Program for the Public Schools, Kdward Janowsky (1949)
(5)The Harmonic Approach for the Violin Student, John M. Ray (1950)
(6) Report of the Special Committee on Private Teaching (1950)
(7) Select the Right Size instrument, Ruusch
(8) The Violin Bow, Stenger
(9) Suggested String Syllabus for Annual Achievement Examinations for Violin, Viola, Cello, and String
Bass (1951)
(10) List of Contemporary String Music (1951)
(11) Chamber Music for Strings, Angelo LaMariana (1953)
(12) Music for Strings. List of String Ensemble, String Orchestra, Frank Grant (1953)
Because of a decision by MTNA to change to biennial national conventions, the ASTA executive
board decided to liold the annual convention in conjunction with the North Central Division meeting of
MTNA in Detroit on February 15 -18, 1954. New officers elected at this convention were as follows:
Frank W. Hill, Iowa State Teachers College, president; Ernest Harris (retiring president), vicc-prcsideni;
Eugene Hilligoss, University of Colorado, corresponding and recording secretary; and Gerald Doty,
Indiana Univer-sity, treasurer. Conspicuously absent from the list of officers were Duanc Haskell and
Phyllis Weyer, both of whom had played such prominent roles in ASTA since its very beginning.
Thus, at the close of the term of office of the third ASTA president, there were some twenty state and
local chapters, with the addition of San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles City, Colorado, and New Jersey
and the deletion of Louisiana and Mississippi from those units listed previously in this chapter.
Membership was no longer mushrooming, but was creeping up and now approached 1,200. The treasury
was ample enough to enable the association to carry out its functions without operating at a deficit. A
plateau had been reached, and the new officers assumed their duties.
Chapter 4
The Hill Presidency (1954-1958)
One of the principal priorities during Frank Hill's tenure as president was the incorporation of ASTA
as a legal body. As early as October 16, 1952, Hill had written to the executive board:
Today I rendered a service to a lawyer friend of mine by evaluating a violin .... In
return I asked him some questions relative to incorporation of ASTA. The result—we
can incorporate in Iowa for about fifty dollars total, which includes attorney's fees.
A non-profit organization should incorporate in the state where its "place of business"
is located. In our case this is difficult to define. It takes three adult persons in the state
to represent for articles of incorporation. That's easy in Iowa—we have fifty members.
Let me know what you all think. The officers in a non-incorporated organization may
be personally liable for suit in case of a court action. There are other intricate
advantages of incorporation which may or may not affect ASTA.
Apparently, no action was forthcoming on this suggestion, and reference to the incorporation does
not appear again until the beginning of Hill's term of office. In an undated letter (apparently written in the
fall of 1954), Hill wrote to the executive board:
Last Thursday George Perlman (Chicago) spent the day with me. He came out here on
other business and we spent about five hours going over the constitution and bylaws in
an attempt to revise them for eventual incorporation, which is absolutely essential....
It's a big job but neces-sary. For example, we should have filed an income tax report all
these years! If we do not incorporate soon, the officers will be liable!
Several suggestions regarding specific changes in the constitution were referred to the board for
comment, and in early 1955 printed copies of the proposed new constitu-tion, or articles of incorporation,
were sent to all ASTA members for their perusal. Notice was also sent that formal action would be taken
at the annual business meeting to be held at the ASTA convention in St. Louis in February 1955. The
articles were presented and accepted at that meeting. Following further legal action and final ratification
by the executive board, ASTA was legally incorporated on Aug. 2, 1955.
At the St. Louis convention, held in conjunction with the biennial meeting of MTNA, the emptiasis
was again on the performance aspect of music. Appearing in performance roles were Joseph Knitzer,
George Bekefi, Albert Gillis, Mary Coleman Bresler, Ilza Niemack, and the Dupont Manual High School
Orchestra, Rubin Sher, conductor. Other sessions were devoted to such topics as "Significant String
Development Programs in Southern States," "College Training for the String Teacher," "Interrelation and
Coor-dination between School Orchestras, Youth Symphonies, Civic and Professional Orchestras," and
"Correlation and Differences between Teaching Methods in the Private Studio and the Public Schools."
These topics indicated a strong effort on the part of ASTA to serve all aspects of the string playing
teaching community.
A new membership category was also authorized at this convention. A report in the American String
Teacher read:
ASTA Life Memberships are now available in accord-ance with the ASTA executive
board's decision at St. Louis. Institutions or individuals wishing to take out Life
Member-ships should apply to the treasurer of ASTA. The fee of $50.00 entitles all
Life members to receive ASTA publications continuously as well as to all privileges
normally exercised by Active and Associate members.
The largest publication yet undertaken by ASTA was also reported in 1955:
The ASTA Commission on Publications (Kenneth Byler, chairman) will publish this
spring in book form the collected articles of Sol Babitz. Mr. Babitz is a violinist,
teacher, lecturer, author of numerous articles, and is well known as violin editor of the
International Musician (Union) magazine.
The writings of Mr. Babitz reflect original thinking and scholarship in the diverse
problems of violin technic and musical style.
After many futile attempts during the course of more than a year by Chairman Byler and other ASTA
executives to have the book financed through grants from other musical agencies, the decision was finally
made to publish the book and to make it available to ASTA members for a limited time at^gne dollar
andjatertojellitfor two dollars. The book, the Violin—Views and Reviews, was a major publication, as
opposed to the previous pamphlets and lists published by ASTA.
Other activities of the year 1955 included the election of Harry King, Fredonia, New York, as
membership chairman replacing Clifford Cook; the addition of new units in Missouri, Nebraska, and
Toledo, Ohio; and the fifth summer Interlochen conference, which attracted some two hundred registered
participants as opposed to the eighteen at the initial conference. The summer conference faculty included
the members of the Paganini Quartet (Henri Temianka, Gustave Rosseels, Charles Foidart, and Lucien
Laporte), and Ottokar Cadek, Frank Crockett, Elizabeth Green, John Gottwald, Orien Dalley, Frank Hill,
Joseph Maddy, William Stubbins, and Mary Sexton.
The year 1956 brought to a close the first decade of ASTA's existence, and although the organization
was now tion is rather sketchy, evidence of the problem is indicated in a letter written in April 1955 by
Frank Hill to Paul Rolland:
I had not intended to write you all the "important news" until I had all the facts and
would let everyone know at the same time, since quite some executive committee
correspondence will perhaps be necessary; but, since you are so curious, here it is-as
much as I have.
The enclosed carbon explains somewhat. [The carbon is not available.] Since
writing Kuersteiner, I have his reply which says he is writing Launer. He emphatically
states our cooperation has been excellent in every respect. He neither confirms nor
denies report of St Louis-he passes the buck to MTNA divisional chairmen. He asks "to
be excused from commenting on Launer's letter at the present time."
Letter from Duane is pessimistic-says he has fought for us but has been defeated
and considers himself licked. Says he can't "stem the movement" any longer. He
refuses to say (or do) more for us.
I wrote an informal letter to Earl Moore (U. of Mich.) asking him what he would
think of ASTA meeting at various university campuses annually-expecting rather
heavy support-university would benefit and perform serv-ice to education, etc. I said I
anticipated the brushoff from MTNA. Thus far, no word.
I also wrote Blazer, who is the yes-man for Indianapolis MTNA. No word but I do
know my letter has been sent around to MTNA brass.
However, the fact that the situation was temporarily resolved is supported by a letter from Bernard
Fischer, chairman of the string committee for MTNA, to Paul Rolland. The letter, dated May 31,1955,
stated:
I am glad to inform you that American String Teachers Association will meet jointly
with the East Central Music Teachers National Association at its convention at Indianapolis, February 11-14, 1956.
Further concern is seen, however, in a letter, dated September 17, 1955, from Frank Hill to the
executive board:
It is not too early to begin thinking on the 1957 meeting. We have several possibilities.
We might combine with MTNA for their national . . .; we might go in with MENC
(they are most desirous of this) .... As most of you know, we have a most attractive
offer from Interlochen for August 1956 .... It is true that we would have a convention
within six months of the February one, but after all the Interlochen meeting will be
held regardless, and the only difference would be that we would conduct our business
meetings at the same time, with possibly some added music attractions.
Hill gave a number of reasons for favoring the Interlochen plan and made it plain this was the course
he would like to follow.
Although the 1957 situation was resolved in favor of the MTNA national convention, the subject
again appeared in correspondence late in 1956. Harry King wrote the following, dated November 12,
1956, to the executive board:
I would like also to refer to Doty's reference to the [ASTA] membership element which
is MTNA membership only 72, MENC membership only 275, Both MTNA and
MENC 67, Membership in neither 300 (estimate).
. . . I believe that we should act in the interest of our membership. If so, this would
mean that should we be meeting with the MENC, a much larger percent of membership
would be on hand for our national meetings.
... On the other hand, I feel that it would not be ethical to tip our hats to MTNA for
the past years and leave them. As I see it, the desirable next step would be to arrange to
have our national meetings with the MENC on the years of their national meetings and
the MTNA in the years of their national meetings. This would give us a national
meeting each year.
Ultimately, this was the solution applied to the problem, but the plan was not realized until 1960.
Another problem facing the organization in 1956 was the continued alliance between ASTA and the
National Music Camp in sponsoring the summer music conferences. Joseph Maddy was at this time
enbroiled in a heated dispute with the American Federation of Musicians because of activities at the
camp, and several ASTA members felt that the organization should not become involved in the situation
for fear of compromising its members, some of whom were members of the musicians' union. The final
decision, however, was to continue sponsorship of the conference even though several staffing changes
had to be made due to Petrillo's (president of the American Federation of Musicians) refusal to allow the
Paganini Quartet to serve as staff members.
At the business meeting of the association held in Indianapolis, February 1956, the new bylaws
corresponding to the articles of incorporation were formally approved.
Another important item of business was reported by Hill as follows:
Since the practical value of ASTA lies largely in the offices of state and city unit
presidents and their administrative officers, it was agreed that regional divisions,
having served their purpose, should cease to exist as such. Our sincere thanks go to the
regional chairmen who have worked in the past.
A noteworthy new publication was announced to the membership in the fall of 1956:
ASTA's new publication, the book containing articles "The Violin and Its Technique in
the Eighteenth Century" by David D. Boyden and "A Problem of Rhythm in Music" by
Sol Babitz (both reprinted from the Musical Quarterly), will be sent free to members
who return their pink cards with their renewal dues by November 1, 1956. Members
joining ASTA this year will receive the book upon sending $0.30 handling charge to
the treasurer.
Printed at a cost of nearly six hundred dollars, this book was another attempt by the association to
provide its members some sound scholarly information not readily available to them from other sources.
During the summer of 1956 another change took place in the composition of the executive
committee. Eugene Hilligoss relinquished his post as secretary, and Harry King was asked to assume
these duties in addition to his current position as membership chairman.
In 1957 ASTA became involved in a governmental trade ruling. A five-member government
commission had been assigned the task of determining if the import tax on violins priced under twentyfive dollars should be raised. The investigation was initiated by a request filed by the Jackson-Guldan
Company of Columbus, Ohio, to increase the duty in order that they might have protection from foreign
competition. Three members of the commission supported the increase and the other two filed a minority
report opposing the increase. Harry King, in his report of the business meeting held at the annual
convention in conjunction with MTNA in Chicago's Congress Hotel, February 12, 1957, mentioned the
discussion on the commission's investigation. Later this was to cause rather heated disagreement among
ASTA members and executives.
President Hill introduced Heinrich Roth who reviewed recommendations of Tariff Commissioners to
increase duty and ad valorum on imported violins and violas of less than $25 value; Roth requests ASTA
consideration and individual membership consideration. Krasner thinks the Jackson-Guldan [Company]
should have opportunity to present its case before ASTA takes a position. Rolland suggests action on
Escape-Clause Investigation #55, and not on H. Roth statement. Moved—seconded—and carried that
ASTA position on Escape-Clause Investigation #55 be implemented by telegram to President.
The text of the telegram sent to President Eisenhower read as follows:
Re: Report to the President of Escape-Clause Investigation #55. This report recommends an increase of
duty on imported violins and violas values at not more than $25 each of from $0.625to $1.875 plus a
corresponding increase of from 17 1/2% to 52 1/2% ad valorum.
The American manufactured commercial instruments considered in this report are those of the
Jackson-Guldan Company of Columbus, Ohio. These commercial instruments do not begin to meet the
complete minimum standard specifications for violins and violas established by the Music Educators
National Conference, and adopted by the American String Teachers Association. Consequently, they are
not in competition with imported instruments within this price range.
To raise the duty and tax on imported violins and violas of student grade would needlessly increase
the already high cost of music education to the youth of America. These costs will have to be paid by the
parents and the educational institutions of the nation. This attempt to benefit one firm of instrumental
manufacturers will work a hardship on thousands of pupils studying string instruments.
The American String Teachers Association strongly protests the proposed increases in duty
mentioned above and urges your careful consideration of the minority report of the Commission.
Copies of the telegram, along with a cover letter further explaining the situation and urging
individual petition of the President in this regard, were sent to all ASTA members. Principal objections
raised to the telegram and letter were two: first, that ASTA should not become involved in the interests,
pro or con, of any commercial firm; and second, that the telegram and letter were subject to libel suits by
the firm in question and were thus too risky. Despite the objections, the telegram was sent and few, if any,
repercussions were felt. This marked the first time that ASTA had publicly committed itself to a position
regarding other than purely professional matters, and, right or wrong, the organization now opened itself
to attack from the business world.
For the second time in ASTA's history the need had arisen for a dues increment. Increased
publication in 1956 and 1957, including String Teaching and Some Related Topics by Clifford Cook, List
of String Duos by John R. Bryden, Organizing String Programs by Frank Crockett (partially funded by
the American Music Council), and Beauty, the Ideal of the Arts and the Sciences by Dr. W. F. G. Swann,
had severely drained the treasury and expenses for the year had exceeded income by some six hundred
dollars.* Thus, the minutes record the following:
Moved by Dalley, seconded by Holesovsky, that active and associate dues be raised to
$5.00, student members to $2.00, and that the state rebate be increased to $0.75.
Motion carried.
ASTA activities in 1957 and early 1958 continued in the pattern of previous years. The annual
summer conference was again held at Interiochen, with George Poinar, Joseph Knitzer, Herman Berg,
Peter Farrell, Carle Manie, Elizabeth Green, Don Gillis, and Oliver Edel heading the faculty. The
conference program included a recital by young violinist John Dalley as a memorial to Ottokar Cadek,
who had played such an important role in the first several summer meetings.
The seemingly annual controversy over affiliation with MTNA and/or MENC was the subject of
letters and meetings with again no final conclusions being reached. Steps toward decentralization were
taken, however, by planning to sponsor several sessions at the MENC biennial meeting, held in Los
Angeles in March 1958, in addition to the annual official meeting of ASTA, held in conjunction with the
East-Central division of MTNA in Minneapolis in February.
State and city units of ASTA in 1958 numbered twenty-six with the establishment of units in
Connecticut, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and a new section in California, the Sacramento section. They
began to assume larger roles in promoting string activities. Many units were cooperating with other state
musical organizations in sponsoring string clinics and forums at state and regional music conventions.
Increased "propaganda" for ASTA was noted in the American String Teacher:
A cheerful sign on the string scene is the appearance of the various local and state news
sheets. These papers are effective in projecting local string and orchestra events and in
developing enthusiasm and string consciousness in a particular area.
The Minnesota unit of ASTA publishes a most informative news letter, the String
Stuff, under the inspired leadership of Minnesota president Howard Van Sickle. Under
the energetic leadership of Lucie Landen the California unit produces the Sound Post
for the second year. The attractive Scroll is the voice of Illinois and is edited by
Thomas Wisniewski, with George Perlman, Illinois unit president. The youngest of the
papers is the Sound Post of the Milwaukee ASTA unit, chairman of which is Sister M.
Sylvestra, O. S. F. Congratulations to all those responsible for the publication of these
papers. The Michigan News Letter is published by Maurice W. Riley, and another
Sound Post has been set in Colorado under the reign of Gordon Parks, state president.
Important business transacted at the annual meeting included the following: rebates to state units
were increased from $0.75 to $1.00 for active members; the policy of ASTA would be to charter no more
city units and the approval of the charter of a state unit in Pennsylvania. Gerald H. Doty, professor of
music at Indiana University and treasurer of ASTA, was elected as the new president, and Howard Van
Sickle, Mankato, Minnesota, was appointed treasurer to fill the unexpired term of Doty. Harry King
remained in the secretary's post, and Frank Hill stepped down to the vice-presidency in accordance with
the constitution.
The treasurer's report at the end of Frank Hill's tenure of office indicated that total receipts for the
year 1957 were $12,660.43 and that disbursements were $6,934.21, leaving a balance on hand of
$5,726.22. Membership totaled approximately 1,500 as another era ended.
Chapter 5
The Doty Presidency (1958-1962)
One of the first problems facing the new administration was a growing feeling among public school
orchestra directors that ASTA was not addressing itself specifically to their needs. Perhaps the long
association at conventions with MTNA, an organization which was directed more toward the college and
private teachers' needs as opposed to those of the lower levels of education, belied the true make-up of
ASTA. However, as reported earlier, there was great correlation between the membership roles of ASTA
and of MENC and the philosophy of ASTA had always been to promote strings at all levels. Nevertheless,
it became evident that some kind of pressure was mounting. Traugott Rohner wrote in a feature article:
The absence of a national orchestra association is deplorable .... ASTA represents an
important segment of the orchestra world, the string teachers; but how many orchestra
directors attend the meetings of ASTA, especially when ASTA meets with MTNA? Where
does this leave the orchestra directors? ... Organize a National Orchestra Association
known as NOA. Although the American String Teachers Association has a real interest in
orchestras, we definitely need an orchestra association.
Forrest McAllister, editor of The School Musician, also warned of impending action in a letter, dated
March 4, 1958, to Harry King:
As you know, I am very much interested in the expansion of string programs in the public
and parochial schools of the nation. I sincerely believe the people of our nation are now
ready to accept the responsibility of developing the string programs .... Two important
factors must now be exploited. First, a wide program of orientation and education among
parents and school boards of education. Second, dynamic leadership must be encouraged
to develop a "plan of action" to promote string programs.
I am a firm believer that the American String Teachers Association can furnish this
dynamic and aggressive leader-ship. However, if your outstanding organization does not
choose to furnish this leadership, I am equally convinced it shall be born elsewhere .... As a
national music educational magazine editor, this editor has noticed a feeling of unrest
among school orchestra directors and string teachers for the past several years. It is
therefore imminent that these people will soon look to or develop an association which will
satisfy their desires for action.
McAllister then went on to suggest that a monthly column by ASTA be established in The School
Musician. The column, featuring articles written by members of ASTA, would be directed toward
providing assistance, orientation, and education for parents, boards of education, and school music
directors involved in developing string programs. He also suggested that ASTA organize a national string
clinic which would compare in size and scope with the annual Midwest National Band Clinic.
The suggestion to establish a monthly column in The School Musician was accepted with enthusiasm
by the ASTA executive board and Frank Hill was appointed editor. While the idea of a national orchestra
clinic was thought to have merit, the many complexities involved in organizing and sponsoring such a
clinic were staggering and the idea never came to fruition. Other steps were taken, however, in an attempt
to placate the orchestra directors and involve them in ASTA. A column especially geared for school
orchestras was begun as a regular feature in the American String Teacher, and Robert Klotman was
commissioned to write a booklet on success with school orchestras to be published by ASTA.
However, these efforts were apparently a classic example of "'too little to late." In a meeting of
interested orchestra directors held at Intelochen during the annual ASTA summer conference, a new
organization called the National School Orchestra Association was formed. Fortunately, Paul Rolland,
Frank Hill, and Howard Van Sickle from the ASTA executive board were present at this conference and
were thus able to participate in the meetings and be fully apprised of the situation. Howard Van Sickle
wrote a letter, dated August 29, 1958, to Gerald
Doty and Harry King:
Both Paul and Frank felt that the organization of the NSOA would best serve its and our
purposes if it had our fullest cooperation. Nowhere did I feel that the work of ASTA was
not recognized except perhaps for the lack of a vigorous approach to the school orchestra
problem. Frank and Paul authorized me to announce that the ASTA would financially
support the new organization .... The discussion at the meetings of the NSOA were handled
nicely. A number of ASTA members attended and felt that there was not too much conflict
between our two organizations and that many would want to belong to both.
Paul Rolland, writing about the same subject to members of the executive board on August 30, 1958,
stated:
Our only and best possible course of action is cooperation and extending a friendly hand
.... I believe that the new association will be helpful for the orchestra picture at large; it will
also affect our membership in a negative way.
Whether the new organization would indeed affect the size and program of ASTA remained to be
seen. But what was painfully evident was that in an area of very limited constituency, such as the string
field, there were now two organizations whose work individually undoubtedly would overlap, and which
combined as a single force could have produced a vital program in all areas of string playing and teaching
had it been formulated and implemented in time.
Publications continued to be of prime concern to ASTA under the presidency of Gerald Doty. In
December a special issue of the American String Teacher, featuring the program for the forthcoming
national convention, was sent to all members. This marked the first year that four issues of the magazine
were printed. In addition, new books of service to the string teacher-performer published by the
association included Success with School Orchestras, Robert Klotman, editor; Revised List of
Contemporary String Music, Kenneth Byler, editor; Annotated List of Films on Strings and Orchestras,
Wolfgang Kuhn, editor; and an ASTA publication of the book Motion Study and Violin Bowing, written
in 1934, by Percival Hodgson.
The special convention issue of the American String Teacher announced an award which was to be
presented annually at ASTA national meetings:
ASTA will honor the great violinist, Joseph Szigeti, for his life-long contributions to string
music. Especially noted for his outstanding program-building, and his continuous search
for the best in string music, his helpful attitude in performing the works of contemporary
composers, Szigeti achieved the admiration and respect of the musical world. ASTA is
proud to honor him with a citation and present him to the convention in a program of fine
violin music.
Finally the plan to sponsor an annual award was becoming an actuality. The concert by Szigeti and
the subsequent presentation of the citation was a highlight of the February
1959 meeting held in conjunction with the national assembly of MTNA in Kansas City, Missouri.
In addition to the many sessions devoted to aspects of string teaching and performing at all levels,
several items of major importance were decided upon and reported at the annual business meeting and the
meetings of the board of executives. Foremost among these was the decision to accept the invitation of
MENC for ASTA to meet with that organization at its Atlantic City conference on March 18—23, 1960,
and that this would be the official business meeting of ASTA. This decision resulted from discussions
over the course of several years and was the final outcome of a plea for guidance, dated October 13, 1958,
by Gerald Doty to the ASTA executive board:
I have just returned from Seattle, where I had a long talk with Vanett Lawler re: ASTAMENC .... The situation, subject to confirmation after she has a conference with Karl
Ernst, seems to be that MENC wants us to take care of the string situation at the Atlantic
City convention with really no strings attached, except that we should slant it toward the
music education people more than we would do when we meet with MTNA. This was my
suggestion, and did not come from Vanett. They will not insist that we join them officially
unless we want to make an official affiliation.
There are various kinds of ties that they have with organizations, and Vanett tells me
that we can have loose tics or none at all if we wish it that way. She did say that she feels
that there would be an advantage to having a representative on the MENC executive board.
This could happen only if we did establish a relationship. Details of whether we wanted
their office to do clerical work would he up to us .... She has no objection whatsoever to
our continuing to meet at the national level with MTNA on alternate years.
Reactions from the board favored scheduling the meeting with MENC, but the members were
hesitant to agree to any official affiliation. This was reflected in the action taken at the annual meeting for
the minutes record only the decision to meet with MENC and no vote on affiliation.
Indications that the association was on secure financial footing and dealing in large sums of money
were revealed in two motions passed by the executive board: (1) that the treasurer be authorized to
purchase certificates of deposit if and when there were sufficient funds to warrant such purchase; and (2)
that the possibility of an annual audit of ASTA funds be investigated. Also approved at this board meeting
was the expenditure of one hundred dollars to the National School Orchestra Association for ASTA's
charter membership in that organization. A discussion was held concerning the invitation of NSOA to
participate jointly in a summer orchestra festival in Door County, Wisconsin. It was agreed that ASTA
commitments for 1958-59 were such that it was not advisable to co-sponsor the festival, although
publicity for the event would be published in the American String Teacher if submitted by NSOA.
Unfortunately, this decision, probably widened the division already existing between the two
organizations, but it was, practically speaking, not an appropriate time for ASTA to sponsor such a
festival because of commitments made earlier to sponsor other summer events.
Business transacted at the meeting of the full organization included the increase of life membership
dues from fifty dollars to seventy-five dollars, and the election of Howard Van Sickle as treasurer (already
occupying that position by virtue of appointment) and Robert Klotman as membership chairman. In a
further attempt to provide better communication within the organization and to stress the importance of
state units, motions were passed that the annual treasurer'1 s report be sent to state unit presidents and that
resumes of ASTA's executive board decisions also be sent to state presidents.
An expansion of the summer workshop program, proved so popular at Interlochen since its inception
in 1951, was announced in the American String Teacher:
ASTA is happy to announce an additional summer workshop for string teachers and
players in the surroundings of Colorado Springs. The success of the annual Interlochen
conference, sponsored jointly by ASTA and the National Music Camp, motivated this
additional summer workshop-vacation combination at a location convenient to many who
would find the Northern Michigan location too distant.
The new summer string conference is made possible by the cooperation of the music
department of Colorado College, Max Lanner, director .... The Colorado College summer
string faculty will hold classes along with ASTA Editor Paul Rolland of the University of
Illinois who will be ASTA's representative.
The retirement of Walter L. Roosa of the University of Illinois as associate editor of the American
String Teacher, a post he had held since the initial publication, was announced in the fall of 1959.
Appointed as associate editor and placed in charge of the orchestra department of the magazine was Ralph
Matesky of the Compton, California, public schools and the University of Southern California, Los
Angeles. Matesky wrote an article on school string and orchestra matters for each issue. Three of these
articles—"A Study in Children's Creativity," "The College Stringed Instrument Course—An Evaluation,"
and "A Code of Ethics for Youth Orchestras"—were subsequently included in the 1966 MENC source
book Perspectives in Music Education.
The fall issue of the American String Teacher also spread news of a decision by the executive board
to initiate a supplementary newsletter to be published three times a year and distributed to the membership
alternately with the seasonal issues of the American String Teacher. Howard Van Sickle was named
editor.
The first ASTA convention to be held in conjunction with MENC (March 1960) placed decided
emphasis on the educational aspect of strings. String sessions included demonstrations, clinics, and panels
on such topics as "How to Improve the Playing of the Viola, Cello, and String Bass Sections of the School
Orchestra," "Visualized Violin Technique: Pitch Touch Development and Guided Reading for the
Beginner," and "Orchestra Rehearsal Techniques"; and a discussion of the teaching techniques of the
Japanese teacher Suzuki. Public school orchestras as well as student soloists were featured at the sessions,
and "professional" performers and speakers were given a relatively minor role in the overall program.
ASTA continued the tradition, begun the previous year, of awarding a special citation, this time to Louis
Persinger, master violinist and teacher, at a special ceremony held in conjunction with the annual business
meeting.
The spring of 1960 bore witness to several important events in the history of ASTA. For the first
time total membership exceeded 2,000, with the figure as of March standing at 2,088. The charter of a
state unit in Georgia had brought the total of state units to twenty-three, with an additional six city or area
units. Gerald Doty was elected to a second term as president, and Miss Mildred Cobbledick of Los
Angeles was elected to the post of secretary succeeding
Harry King. After serving as editor of the American String Teacher for ten years, Paul Rolland resigned
following the publication of the spring 1960 issue, as he was to spend the following year in Europe on
sabbatical leave. Howard Van Sickle was appointed to succeed him as editor. Commenting on Rolland's
service as editor, Gerald Doty wrote:
No one person can take credit for the continuing growth of ASTA, but if we were to single
out one person to honor for doing far more than his share many would agree that our
editor, Paul Rolland, should be the person so honored. His recent resignation, to be
effective after the current issue, is a great loss and members of the executive board were
unanimous in their feeling of regret .... He has promised to continue as a contributor to the
American String Teacher after he completes his editorial work .... At the annual business
meeting during the convention the membership voted to make him a life member as a
token of appreciation.
Under Rolland's leadership the official journal of ASTA had grown from an initial "newsy" format of
twelve pages, produced at a total cost of approximately three hundred dollars, to a highly informative,
scholarly publication of thirty pages, produced at a cost of nearly $2,000, with an income from advertising
approaching $2,800.
The financial and artistic successes of the summer music conferences were indicated in an article
appearing in the American String Teacher:
The success of ASTA summer conferences for string teachers and players prompted
expansion to include helpful vacation and study opportunities. In addition to the
Interiochen String Teachers Conference, now in its tenth year, and the Colorado String
Conference, successfully launched at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, last year-ASTA
is happy to announce two additional summer programs arranged by the National ASTA
and a third one arranged by the Ohio unit of ASTA .... The first Gettysburg String
Conference is made possible by a generous grant by the Theodore Presser Foundation as
well as by the excellent facilities provided by Gettysburg [Pennsylvania] College .... The
Idyllwild [California] Conference is proud to present a distinguished facility. Participation
in this conference at the threshold of school opening will be invaluable to the teachers of
California .... For those who wish to play chamber music in July, we can highly
recommend a musical vacation at the Put-In-Bay Chamber Music Festival sponsored by
the Ohio unit of ASTA on scenic Lake Erie.
A special meeting of the ASTA executive board was convened at the Colorado summer conference
in August 1960, for the purpose of planning the annual meeting to be held in conjunction with MTNA in
Philadelphia in late February and early March of 1961. At this meeting Robert Klotman was appointed to
the post of treasurer, succeeding Howard Van Sickle, who had recently been appointed editor of the
American String Teacher. Concurrently,
Jaraslov Holesovsky, supervisor of instrumental music in the Philadelphia schools, was appointed
membership chair-man in place of Klotman. Commenting on the appointment
Gerald Doty said:
The addition of Holesovsky to the board brings a top man of the public school field into
our board at a time that ASTA is seeking to strengthen its work among teachers in the
schools.
Apparently this desire to work closely with the public schools was sincere, as Doty wrote in the same
issue:
Late in the summer the board of directors of the Music Educators National Conference
voted to accept ASTA as an associated organization. With the handling of dues collection
through the MENC office and the maintaining of our mailing plates, there is an important
development of this association with MENC. During recent years the clerical work of the
treasurer's office has grown to the point where it was not practical for a full-time teacher to
do the work in addition to his teaching.
We look forward to closer and more effective cooperation with MENC but we shall
continue to be an autonomous organization with our own publications and our own
activities. We shall seek to preserve and extend the cordial and useful ties with the Music
Teachers National Association.
Thus, the final chapter was written in a discussion which had been waged for a decade or more
concerning affiliation with one or more national music associations.
Peter Farrell, who had succeeded Kenneth Byler as chairman of the publications committee of
ASTA, announced in the fall of 1960 that, under ASTA's auspices, the book Modern Viola Technique, by
Robert Dolejsi had been published. This book, in addition to The Violin, The Technic of Relaxation and
Power by Fred Rosenberg, distributed by ASTA in 1960, added to the already impressive list of
publications now made available by ASTA.
The American String Teacher, under its new editor Howard Van Sickle, continued to grow in size
and in variety of content. In addition to the inclusion of numerous articles on ASTA state and national
activities and on performance and practice techniques on string instruments, the magazine now began to
feature articles on the lives and works of noted performers and teachers (i.e., Sevcik, Eisenberg, Paganini)
and on extra-musical topics which were pertinent to the string field. Articles with titles such as "Physical
Fitness for Musicians," "Stick and Slip" (a reprint of an article on friction from Scientific American), and
scores of articles on public relations and promotion of string programs became regular features of the
magazine. Reviews of new books and records, as well as a regular column entitled "The Lively Ancients,"
concerned with old instruments, were included in each issue in 1961. An important change was the
regular addition of a fourth issue of the journal each year, with issues now being published as JanuaryFebruary; March-April; May-June; and November-December.
Samuel Gardner of New York City was named the String Teacher of the Year-the third person to be
so honored—at the annual convention, held in conjunction with MTNA, in Philadelphia in 1961. Other
convention activities included a number of professional performance sessions sponsored by ASTA,
indicating that the program had, no doubt, been influenced greatly by the concurrent MTNA meetings.
Music education was, however, the center of attention at two of the sessions, and encouraging words
about the state of strings were heard in reports on the progress of NSOA, the American Federation of
Musician's Congress of Strings and the National Federation of Music Clubs' Crusade for Strings.
The summer conferences at Colorado College and Gettysburg were not scheduled again in 1961, but
several new conferences were added to the ASTA program for this year. In addition to the Interlochen and
Put-In-Bay conferences, other conferences in the "Six for Sixty-One" program were held at the University
of Texas, Austin, Texas; the College of Saint Teresa, Winona, Minnesota; the University of Vermont,
Burlington, Vermont; and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Geographically,
only the far West and Northwest were now without regional summer workshops.
The spring 1961 issue of the American String Teacher brought news of the first death in the official
ASTA executive family, that of Rex Underwood, co-founder and past president of ASTA. Tributes, citing
Underwood's dedication to the promotion of strings, were written by Duane Haskell, Frank Hill, Elizabeth
Walker, Clifford Cook, and Gilbert Waller.
The national convention of ASTA, convening with MENC in Chicago in March 1962, brought to a
close the terms of office of Gerald Doty and Frank Hill. At this fifteenth anniversary meeting, the
Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Hans Hess, Chicago cellist. This marked the
first time that the award had gone to someone other than a violinist. Announcements were made of new
publications: the book String Talk 'N' Stuff by Howard Van Sickle; and an eight-page pamphlet, directed
primarily at school administrators, school board members, and parents promoting string instruction in the
schools, entitled If the General Likes Flowers.
A change in the articles of incorporation was passed at this convention, giving the board the right to
conduct a mail-vote of members on constitutional and bylaw changes, rather than following the policy of
requiring the vote to be taken at the annual meeting. This was seen as an opportunity for a wider
representation in the voting procedure, as only a limited number of members were present at the annual
meetings. This set the precedent for the establishment of the mail-vote as the norm for all official
business, including the election of officers.
The final two years of Gerald Doty's term had been rather hectic ones, since he was attempting to
complete his doctoral work and had to rely heavily on others to conduct ASTA affairs. As he wrote in a
letter dated March 1, 1961 to the board members:
I have not made an agenda for the board meetings in Chicago as I've not had time to devote
to ASTA as I should and wanted to do. I told you all that two years ago when you insisted
that I accept another term.
Nevertheless, ASTA, at the close of Doty's term, was a strong and vital organization, numbering
2,000 members with an operating budget of approximately $15,000. The addition of units in
Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, and local sections in the Fresno and
Riverside areas in California brought the total state and subunit affiliation to thirty-six. The fifteen-year
milestone had been reached, and a new administration stood ready to assume responsibility.
Chapter 6
The Klotman and Rolland Presidencies (1962-1966)
The new order was ushered in by an announcement in the American String Teacher:
At stated intervals the official letterhead of the American String Teachers Association
requires revision. With the end of the school year, the presidency of Dr. Robert H.
Klotman of Akron, Ohio, begins. Dr. Klotman's involvement with ASTA has been
extensive. He served as president of the Ohio State ASTA Unit and as national
membership chairman and treasurer before being elected national president.
Betty Elmquist, president of the Indiana ASTA unit, was elected as secretary to carry on
the work at the national level of Mildred Cobbledick of Los Angeles. Miss Elmquist takes
office at the same time as Dr. Klotman.
The office of vice-president is traditionally filled by the outgoing president. Gerald H.
Doty of Montana State University steps down to be vice-president after two terms in the
top office.
Before the end of Mr. Doty's term a vacancy occurred in the office of membership
chairman. He appointed Blanche Schwarz Levy of New York City to fill this position. Mrs.
Levy brings with her the skills that brought her recognition when she served a number of
terms as president of the New York Violin, Viola, and Cello Association.
Another vacancy was created when Dr. Klotman moved from the office of treasurer to
become president. Appointed as his successor is Robert C. Marince, president of the New
Jersey unit [and director of music education of the Lawrence Township Public Schools,
Trenton, New Jersey] ....
Ralph Matesky of the University of Southern Califor-nia, chairman of orchestra affairs,
and Dr. Howard M. Van Sickle, editor, Mankato State College, are continuing their duties.
Klotman, as he assumed the presidency, indicated his plans in a report to the constituency in the
same issue:
Within the next few months I plan to select and appoint the following committees:
(1) Reactivate the research committee with specific projects.
(2) Select a representative and advisory committee with grass root origins that will help
offer recommendations and advice to the president. This will not conflict with the
executive board which is a legislative body and will have priority in these considerations.
(3) Appoint an awards committee that will be respon-sible for selecting all award winners.
(4) Appoint regional committees to work with MTNA and MENC in planning meetings
and conventions. The purpose of this group would be to utilize in sectional meetings local
talent that may have been overlooked. This will not negate the opportunities for bringing in
outstand-ing group leaders, performers, etc.
(5) In addition to the above, I plan to distribute a bi-monthly letter to state presidents
regarding national affairs and conditions.
Internal reorganization became a reality as announced in the fall of 1962:
The advisory committee to the president consists of Joseph Knitzer of the Eastman School
of Music, Henri Temianka of the Paganini Quartet, Harry Benson of William Lewis and
Son, Chicago, and Marjorie Keller of the Dallas Public School System. One other public
school teacher is to be included. This committee not only consists of all the elements that
comprise the American String Teachers Association, but represents the various sections of
the country.
Chairman of the research committee will be Paul Rolland of the University of Illinois
and his committee members will be Francis Tursi of the Eastman School of Music, Joel
Berman of the University of Maryland, Ernest Harris of Teachers College, Columbia
University, Frederick Neumann of the University of Richmond, Peter Farrell of the
University of Illinois, and Edwin Gordon of the University of Iowa.
A board to assist in the selection and organization of summer conferences has been
established. It consists of Howard Van Sickle, chairman, and Gerald Doty and James
Shaw, committee members. This group will review all requests for summer conferences
and assist in decisions regarding assignments and locations.
The String Syllabus, first issued in 1951 by ASTA, was completely revised in 1961 and 1962 and made
available to all members. An important addition to the revised edition was a section dealing with auditions
for achievement awards. The purpose of these auditions, long promoted by several members of ASTA,
was stated as follows:
In accordance with the stated aims and aspirations of the American String Teachers
Association to encourage string instrument study and to advance the standards of
performance and instruction, ASTA presents this modus operandi, to be used in
conformance with the current edition of String Syllabus, for noncompetitive achievement
examinations at local, regional, and state levels. Students who qualify, at various levels of
advancement, will receive certified Achievement Awards from ASTA. Sponsors of the
individual additions, at their discretion, may award addi-tional prizes.
By establishing national standards, by means of a Syllabus and achievement
examinations, ASTA is under-taking to provide goals and incentive for growth among
string students and their teachers.
Competition was open to any student of a teacher who was an ASTA member in good standing.
Summer string conferences, now having reached the "big business" stage, were expanded in the
summer of 1962 to eight regional centers. Although there was a summer conference committee, most of
the actual planning for the 1962 conferences was done by Howard Van Sickle. Conferences added to the
list were those held at Women's College, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina;
International Music Camp, Bottineau, North Dakota; West Chester State College, West Chester,
Pennsylvania; and California Western University, San Diego, California. Deleted from the previous year's
list were confer-ences at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and College of St. Teresa, Winona,
Minnesota. (The latter had been scheduled for 1962, but was cancelled in early summer.)
The awarding of the first ASTA Public Service Award, to complement the annual award given to an
outstanding artist-teacher, was announced in January of 1963:
Isaac Stern and Jack Benny will be .honored at the national convention of the American
String Teachers Association on March 10 at a general ASTA-MTNA session at the
Sherman Hotel beginning at 1:30.
Isaac Stern will be honored by ASTA as a Master Artist. He will stop in Chicago for the
award ceremony on his way to a concert engagement at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mr. Benny's
presence will be determined largely by the success of his Review which is to open late in
February in New York. If responsibilities prevent his appearance in Chicago for the honor,
arrangement will be made to have a New York presentation photographed and taped for
show-ing at the Chicago convention.
Isaac Stern has distinguished himself as an outstanding artist on the violin and also as a
champion for the cause of music. His campaign to save Carnegie Hall brought many of the
problems of the musical world to a world-wide audience. He has teamed with Jack Benny
on a number of occasions to bolster symphony orchestra finances through the presentation
of benefit concerts.
Jack Benny has consistently kept the American public aware of the violin as a musical
instrument through his radio and television shows. .The tremendous exposure for the violin
with program viewers numbering in the billions has provided an impact not heretofore
available in the history of the instrument.
Stern and Benny, at the convention and in New York respectively, were awarded attractive trophies,
featuring an exact replica of a violin scroll, donated by the Kay Musical Instrument Company. This was
the result of the executive board's wish to have an award more tangible and "eye-catching" than a mere
citation or plaque.
Publication of String Talk, the bi-monthly newsletter sent to ASTA members, was discontinued in
1962 because of the cost involved in printing and distributing the publication. The feeling was that some
of its material v/as duplicated in the official magazine, A merican String Teach-er, and that pertinent
information could be included in this magazine now that it was being published four times yearly.
The 1963 annual meeting was held in Chicago. In addition to the presentation of awards and the
usual many fine clinics, concerts, and panel discussions, it was the scene of decisions on and
announcements of several important changes in the national structure and functions of ASTA.
Announcement was made of the organization in the state of Hawaii of the first state unit outside the
continental United States. Other new units recognized were in Delaware, Louisiana, North Dakota, and
five area sections in the Illinois unit. Bylaw changes, having been approved by mail-vote, were
announced. These included provisions for electing all national officers by mail-vote, for presenting a
minimum .of two candidates for each office with the exception of treasurer, and for limiting the term of
the office of president to one two-year term. Jack M. Pernecky, Northwestern University, Evanston,
Illinois, was elected membership chairman replacing Blanche Schwarz Levy; and at another session
special awards were presented to past-presidents of ASTA-Duane Haskell, Frank Hill, Gerald Doty,
Ernest Harris, and in memoriam, Rex Underwood.
After close cooperation with MTNA since the founding of ASTA, formal action was taken at this
meeting to request official affiliation with this organization. Official recognition of this request appeared
in a letter to Robert Klotman from James B. Peterson, president of MTNA. The letter was dated May
1,1963:
It is a pleasure to inform you that the Executive Board has unanimously accepted the
American String Teachers Association as an Allied Association of MTNA. We are
delighted with this new relationship between our .two great associations, and hope that
they will continue to work together for their mutual benefit and for the art of music in the
United States.
In referring to this new relationship we would appreciate your using: "An Allied
Association of the Music Teachers National Association."
This designation subsequently has appeared regularly on all ASTA letterheads and in the American
String Teacher.
As often happens, the success of a particular type of venture soon promotes interest on the part of
others to become involved. Such was the case with the summer conferences in 1963. Letters began
inundating the national officers requesting ASTA approval and support for confer-ences at colleges and
universities throughout the country. It was the duty of the special committee on summer conferences to
work in conjunction with the president to set up guidelines for establishing conferences and to decide
where they would be held. The committee insisted that geographical considerations should be paramount,
as con-ference locations too close to each other would surely, be self-defeating. The truth of this
philosophy was evidenced in the fact that a summer conference was granted, as an exception, to Michigan
State University in view of the fact that the prestigious Congress of Strings would also be meeting there
and a sharing of prominent artists as faculty would be possible—this, despite the fact that there was
already an established conference at Interlochen, Michigan. More than likely the proximity of the
Interlochen confer-ence was partially the cause of the cancellation in early summer of the Michigan State
conference because of lack of registrants. The California-Western conference, scheduled for its second
year of operation, was also cancelled in midsummer—a rather unfortunate circumstance, since bids had
been received from three other far-west sites and had been denied. New conferences were established,
however, at Western Washington State College, Bellingham, Washington, and at Colorado State College,
Greeley, Colorado. (Other conferences, with the deletion of the one at Women's College, University of
North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina, remained as they had been in 1962.)
Activities in late 1963, including detailed correspond-ence and the rearranging of the schedule for
the 1964 spring meeting of ASTA, led to this announcement:
In recent years the Talent Education Movement of Japan developed by Shinichi Suzuki,
violinist, teacher and philosopher, has attracted world-wide attention.
On Sunday, March 15, at the annual convention of the American String Teachers
Association in Philadelphia, Mr. Suzuki will demonstrate how he teaches children as
young as 4 years of age how to play the violin.
A small group of Japanese children are accompanying Suzuki on a U.S. tour and to the
String Teachers convention.
The Philadelphia presentation was followed by demonstrations at other key locations throughout the
country. Arrangements for the ASTA presentation were made by President Robert Klotman and by John
Kendall and Clifford Cook, early advocates of the Talent Education program in the United States. It was,
in fact, through the efforts of these men that the Suzuki tour was finally realized. Kendall. and Cook
alerted Klotman to the fact that the Suzuki appearance at the Philadelphia conference was in jeopardy,
since MENC could provide no funds for performing groups. Klotman personally committed $600.00 of
ASTA's money to assure Suzuki's appearance, and this commitment was retroactively supported by the
ASTA board. The subsequent tour through the United States also helped finance the visit of Suzuki and
the Japanese children, as each sponsor provided $250.00—$500.00 plus room and board and
transportation costs to the next performance location.
It was agreed by all attending that this demonstration was one of the greatest highlights of all ASTA
annual meetings, and an accurate appraisal of the impact of the Suzuki demonstration and its effect on the
string scene in the United States was given by Paul Rolland:
It was the playing of the Suzuki group which made this convention possibly a turning point
in our string education.
We heard the enthusiastic reports of highly reliable witnesses of Suzuki's teaching: John
Kendall of Southern Illinois and Clifford Cook of Oberlin, and even of the finest artists—
Casals, Szigeti—yet we still had to hear this group to grasp the magnitude of excellence in
the playing of these young children .... After this amazing demonstration, our__ string
teaching fraternity, collectively red-faced, is invited to go into a period of soul-searching
and self-appraisal.
Scroll trophy awards were presented to three outstand-ing musicians at the Philadelphia meeting,
held in conjunc-tion with MENC. Recipient of a Scroll Award, designated as the International Award,
was Shinichi Suzuki; the award for outstanding public service on behalf of strings was presented to
Joseph Maddy, founder of the National Music Camp; and Hans Letz, retired violinist and faculty member
of the Juilliard School of Music in New York, was awarded the Outstanding String Teacher trophy.
Because of the illness of Mr. Letz, Joseph Knitzer, a former pupil, accepted the award on his behalf, and a
personal presentation was made at the Letz home at a later date.
The following items were reported at the annual business meeting: ASTA's publication of Selected
and Graded Orchestra List compiled by Murie! Fitts; member-ship as of March 10, 1964, totaled 2,260;
new state units had been chartered in Maine and Florida; a treasury balance of $12,509.20, an all-time
high. A motion was passed at the executive board meeting and announced at the general meeting that no
further charges would be made to string conferences for advertisements or mailing. This was de-signed to
aid some of the conferences which were operating on uncertain budgets. Elected as new national officers
by mail-vote of the membership were Paul Roiland, president-— and James D. Shaw, Jr., secretary.
Robert Klotma-automatically became vice-president, and all other officers remained in the same posts.
Some years earlier the administration of ASTA had thought that the committee method in a national
organization was rather fruitless and usually nonproductive. As a result, the many commissions and
committees established in early ASTA history had been disbanded, and the majority of all work was done
by the executives and hand-picked assistants. However, as noted earlier, when Robert Klotman assumed
the presidency he made another attempt to organize some effective committees with the express hope not
only of accomplishing more. but also of involving more people in the activities of string promotion. Paul
Rolland viewed the situation similarly, and, in fact, used the committee method even more extensively.
He continued to utilize an advisory board, but broadened its constituency. His board members included
Leonard Bern-stein, conducting; Raphael Bronstein, Joseph Fuchs, Ivan Galamian, Sidney Harth, Joseph
Szigeti, Henri Temianka, Max Aranoff, Leonard Rose, and Janos Starker, Violin, Viola, Cello: Ernest
Harris, Joseph Maddy, and Louis G. Wersen, music education and public schools; Harry Benson and
Heinrich Roth, industry; Orville Dalley, NSOA; and Traugott Rohner, publishing. In addition, Roiland
stated:
To strengthen our program in every one of its aspects, the following committees are being
set up under the chairmen named below:
(1) Research and Publication-Dr. Joel Berman, University of Maryland
(2) Violin and Viola Instruction-Joseph Gingold, Indiana University
(3) Cello and Bass Instruction-Gabor Rejto, Univer-sity of Southern California, L. A.
(4) Public School String and Orchestra Develop-ment-Marjorie M. Keller, Dallas, Texas
(5) High School Division-Thomas Wisniewski, Lombard, Illinois
(6) Junior High School Division-Phy His Magnuson, Berkeley, California
(7) Grade School Division-Howard Lee Koch, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York
(8) Parochial School String and Orchestra Develop-ment-Sister M. Janet, Alverno College,
Milwaukee
(9) Private Teaching-Samuel Applebaum, Maple-wood, New Jersey
(10) Youth Orchestras-Ralph Matesky, University of the Pacific
(11) Teacher Training-Gilbert Waller, University of Illinois
(12) Chamber Music-Emil Raab, University of Alabama
(13) Pre-school Training-John Kendall, Southern Illinois University
(14) Professional and Artist Liason-Nathan Gordon, Detroit, and Joseph Knitzer,
University of Michigan
(15) Achievement Examinations-Mary Sexton, Des Moines, Iowa
(16) Commission on Professional Ethics-George Peri-man, Chicago, Illinois
(17) Summer Conferences-James D. Shaw, Philadel-phia, Pennsylvania
(18) Council of State Presidents-Constantine Johns, West Chester State College.
This long list of committees, although rather staggering in concept, represented through the chairmen
and committee members a virtual "Who's Who" of string players and teachers and surely accomplished
the objective of involving many people and attracting attention to the activities of ASTA.
In addition to eight summer conferences sponsored the previous year, new summer conferences were
held at the University of Maine, Orono, Maine, and at State University of New York, College at Potsdam
in 1964. Another important event during this summer was the second Tanglewood String Symposium, at
which national figures in performance and music education discussed ideas related to problems of
encouraging string talent. Unlike at the first symposium held the previous summer, ASTA was well
represented at this 1964 session and, upon conclusion of the symposium, a recommendation-that a
national council , of string teachers be formed in conjunction with the American String Teachers
Association to work out details of problems discussed—was made.
The new committees appointed by Roiland were not long in becoming active. Short articles in the
1964 summer and fall issues of the American String Teacher reported activities planned by many of the
groups and asked for suggestions from the membership. Of special interest was a statement from the
publications committee reporting the availability of three short pamphlets:
Joel Berman, chairman of the committee on publica-tions for the American String
Teachers Association, an-nounces that three new publications are ready for distribu-tion.
They are:
(1) Music Awards for String Players by Paul Jackson;
(2) A Short List of Unusual Solo String Literature Arranged to Accommodate School
Orchestras by Robert Klotman; A Short Annotated List of Baroque Music Arranged for
Strings on Easy and Medium Levels by Philip Gordon;
(3) A Compendium of Recommended School Orches-tra Literature (Since 1968) by Ralph
Matesky.
A report in the American String Teacher from Samuel Applebaum, chairman of the private teacher
committee, concerning the establishment of a special private teacher section of ASTA elicited a written
response, dated June 14, 1964, from Blanche Schwarz Levy to Paul Roiland:
Many of us will be pleased to learn that you contem-plate giving the private teacher
marked attention. I have heard from many, and feel also, that there is little place for us in
ASTA. Everything seems centered on school people. Apparently you realize this too.
After many years of complaint by those in the field of education who felt the professional
performance aspect of strings was being unduly emphasized by ASTA, the private teacher now voiced his
opposition to the stress on school music apparent in the association.
One of ASTA's principal objectives had quite obviously been the promotion of string programs in the
public schools and rightly so, since this was the area in which the largest number of string players began
their study. A threat to the public school orchestra was seen in the mid-1960's by the mushrooming
number of local youth symphonies, which utilized top junior and senior high school talent from an area to
form a much larger and more proficient orchestra than would be possible at a single school. The
philosophy and practicality of this was certainly sound, and many of these youth orchestras provided
exceptional opportunities for the young people involved. However, there were a few of these groups
which set themselves up in opposition to local school groups rather than serving as adjuncts and aids to
individual school programs. Most vocal concerning this problem were Lucie Landen, president of the
California unit, and several others from California, citing the Cali-fornia Youth Symphony which did not
require its members to participate in their school orchestras, and, in fact, openly flaunted and degraded the
individual school organizations. As a result, many of the best players who had received most of their
instrumental instruction in the school music program were not participating in school orchestras. As
letters from the California ASTA and from national ASTA officers to the principals involved produced
little result, Ralph Matesky attended a meeting of officers, parents, and public school teachers in the Palo
Alto area in an attempt to work out an understanding and reach accord. Bitter feeling was running high on
all sides. Since the situation was a potentially serious one, a committee, under the leadership of Matesky,
was established to review the status and purposes of youth orchestras and to draft a plan for limited
control of these groups. Committee member Elizabeth Green, reflecting the feeling of the committee in an
article in the American String Teacher, stated:
Colleagues: Do you realize that it takes only a period of about ten years to kill off all youth
orchestra activity in the United States-whether in or out of schools?
A sectional youth orchestra that- steals players from the school orchestras of the
communities it serves without supporting those school orchestras will itself die a natural
death in the same ten-year period.
WHY? Because in ten years' time today's present "youths" will be adults, and the
orchestra will no longer be a youth orchestra. Also, if the feeder system in the school dies
out, there will be no replacements for the youth orchestras ! empty chairs.
And what able-bodied man is going to devote his life to a profession in which there is no
future?
. . . There is only one way to insure a musical future for the United States and that is to
support the public school orchestra department .... Youth orchestras must co-operate with
the school orchestral director or else acknowledge that they are ultimately going to kill all
orchestral participation in these United States.
The activities of the committee on youth orchestras were climaxed by publication of A Code of
Ethics for School and Youth Orchestras. Chairman Matesky and committee members Green, Orien
Dalley, Max T. Ervin, Marvin Rabin, and Gibson Walters were recognized for their excellent contribution
in preparing this document. Paul Rolland's special tribute to them appeared in the Winter 1965 American
String Teacher, the same issue that carried the complete text of the code. One year later the code was
approved and adopted by MENC.
Several new approaches to convention program plan-ning were evidenced at the annual meeting held
in conjunction with MTNA in Dallas, Texas, on March 28 l April 1, 1965. These were announced in the
fall of 1964:
In line with our goal to give added incentive to solo performance and to raise the standards
of individual string performance within the framework of the school orchestra program and
in the studios, ASTA will devote two sessions at the Dallas convention, March 28-April 1,
to unison solo performance by outstanding violin, viola, cello, and bass solo youth players.
Young players, recommended by their school or private teachers, may come from any part
of the country to Dallas, participate in the convention, perform there and receive a master
class lesson from an outstanding artist teacher.
The event [called the First National Assembly of Youth Solo String Players] . . . was
suggested by Mrs. Marjorie M. Keller, Instrumental Music Consultant in the Dallas
Schools. [She had been an early ASTA officer and subsequently was named chairman of
this project.]
Pablo Casals will be honored by ASTA during the Dallas convention in recognition of
his outstanding service to music and humanity as a musician and teacher. An appropriate
tribute will be paid to the Master by a Cello Choir of 64 voices, playing compositions of
Casals, Villa-Lobos and a contemporary American composer. Plans are underway to
commission an original composition for this occasion. ["Dithyramb for Eight Celli" by
Robert Linn.]
Professors Maurice Eisenberg (Juilliard) and Gabor Rejto, both former pupils of Casals
will present a session and master classes on the principles of Casals' teaching.
Unfortunately, illness caused the cancellation of Casals' scheduled appearance, but a tape of a
telephone conversa-tion with the revered cellist was played at the award ceremony. Actual presentation of
the Scroll Artist Award took place a few weeks later in Pittsburgh, where Casals was presenting a series
of master classes. The cello choir proved to be an outstanding event of the convention, and ASTA
subsequently made available to its members a recording of the cello choir performance and Maestro
Casals' comments to the convention.
American Airlines was presented the Scroll Award for outstanding public service:
The airline was cited for its sponsorship of fine musical programs and its encouragement
of young people in the field of concert music .... American Airlines for twelve years has
sponsored a late-night radio program of fine music called Music 'Til Dawn .... American
Airlines has also particularly encouraged youth concerts and scholarship programs in
Dallas and San Francisco.
Special citations were given at the convention to five persons in recognition of their distinguished
service to ASTA and to the cause of string and orchestra playing. The five honored were Gabor Rejto,
Joseph Knitzer, Lucie Landen, Maqorie Keller, and Ralph Matesky.
Re-elected as national treasurer and secretary were "Robert Marince and Jack Pernecky, respectively.
A clarification of types of memberships and dues was passed at an active executive session. The
following fee scedule was outlined: active or associate membership, $5.00 plus state dues; student
membership, $2.00; institutional membership, $10.00; contributing membership, $25.00; and life membership, $100.00.
New projects initiated by ASTA in early 1965 were reported as follows:
We have received permission from the American Federation of Musicians for the
production of educational recordings with the collaboration of artists-teachers. Our plan is
to provide for a series of recordings of intermediate-advanced repertoire for all string
instruments . ... I am, furthermore, glad to report that some propositions sug-gested by me
were seriously considered at a recent Symposium committee meeting in New York. I was
encouraged to apply for funds to the Department of Education to prepare a film on Suzuki
while in America next June.
While the project to provide teaching recordings made by prominent artists did receive the
commendation of the American Federation of Musicians, and several letters asking artists of the stature of
Joseph Knitzer, Sidney Harth, and Joseph Gingold to perform on these records were acknowledged in the
affirmative, the project never was realized. Discussions on various ways to implement and Finance the
project continued over the course of two years without resultant action.
The film on Suzuki was, however, another matter. A report in the American String Teacher stated:
Our application to the Office of Education to sponsor a film on the teaching of Shinichi
Suzuki has met with success. A grant of $7,500.00 has been received from the U. S. Office
of Education, and a motion picture with Suzuki as a central figure has been photographed
during the string workshop sponsored by Southern Illinois University. The film will
present Suzuki teaching American children and their mothers and will eventually be made
public.
This film was made available to the public through distribution by the Encyclopedia Britannica
Films, Inc. ASTA collected royalties from all sales of this film.
Because of Suzuki's presence in the United States during the summer of 1965, ASTA in cooperation
with four music institutions featured a series of summer string clinics utilizing him and his aides. Suzuki
clinics were held at the University of Washington; Southern Illinois Univer-sity at Edwardsville; Peabody
Conservatory of Music, Towson Branch; and Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. These clinics were
in addition to the annual summer string-conference workshops, which numbered twelve in 1965. Ithaca
University, Trenton State College, University of Kentucky, Eastern Washington State College, the
Univer-sity of Hartford, and the Longhorn Music Camp in Texas were new locations during this season.
Other important projects completed in 1965 were the publication of the book Senso-Motor Study and
Its Application to Violin Playing by Frederick Polnauer, Ph.D., and Morton Marks, M.D., and the
completion and publica-tion of the report by the committee on teacher training. The Polnauer-Marks book
had been a project of the publications committee for several years and was the largest publication yet
undertaken by ASTA. By action of the executive board, distribution rights to the general public were
arranged with Carl Fisher, Inc. The ten-dollar retail price of the book far exceeded the price of any other
ASTA publication; however, ASTA members were given a twenty-percent discount. The teacher-training
report, designed to assist colleges and universities in organizing their curricula to train students to play or
at least to expose students to string instruments, was an extension of the 1957 MENC recommendations
for improving teacher-training curricula in strings.1 The basic approach of the committee was stated in the
American String Teacher:
Whereas the MENC committee established what is considered essential to train teachers of
strings in four categories, this committee is attempting the second step, that of blending
and combining the MENC recommenda-tions so that they may be more readily absorbed
into existing curricula.
The term of Paul Rolland as president of ASTA came to a close after the 1966 convention, held in
conjunction with MENC in Kansas City, Missouri. At this twentieth anniversary convention, the String
Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Ivan Galamian, master teacher from New York. Galamian
was recognized for his contribu-tions to the art of string playing in the United States over a period of
thirty years, during which time he taught scores of the finest young violinists in the United States. The
1966 award, replacing the Scroll Award presented in prior years, was a bust of Paganini, created by Frank
Gallo, sculptor at the University of Illinois. A similar bust was given to the winner of the Public Service
Award, the Bell Telephone Company, for its support of fine music on television and radio. Another
feature of the Kansas City convention was the Second Annual Assembly of Youth Solo Players, which
subsequently led to similar regional assemblies.
At the annual business meeting a citation was read from the National Federation of Music Clubs
congratulating ASTA for "advancing national and world culture through distinguished service to music."
Recognition and tribute were given the founders of ASTA as the twentieth anniversary of the organization
was marked. (Two names, Joseph Knitzer and Arpad Kurin, appeared in the listing in the 1966 minutes,
but were not included in the initial listing in the 1946 minutes.)
Membership for 1965—66 neared the 3,000 mark, and the treasury showed a balance of over
$14,000. New state units had been chartered in Arkansas, Utah, Virginia, and Kentucky, and state
affiliates now totaled thirty-nine with an additional fourteen city and local sections. A number of projects
already underway were to be completed by the new administration as ASTA entered its third decade.
Chapter 7
The van Sickle and Lantz Presidencies (1966-1970)
Howard M. Van Sickle, Mankato State College, Mankato, Minnesota, was elected president in the spring
of 1966. For many years an active member of ASTA, he had served as national treasurer and, during the
preceding six years, had edited the American String Teacher. Thus, the tradition of electing to the
presidency one who had been a member of the executive board was perpetuated. James Shaw, Jr., was
elected to another term as secretary; and the appointment of Paul Askegaard, Edina, Minnesota, as the
new editor of the American String Teacher was approved by the board. Askegaard was well prepared for
the position of editor by virtue of his experience as editor of Gopher Music Notes, the official publication
of the Minnesota Music Educators Association. He assumed the editorship of the American String
Teacher at a time when the average issue numbered forty-two to fifty pages, the annual budget was
$7,500 for printing costs alone, and the circulation had reached 4,500. Publication of this excellent
magazine continued to be one of ASTA's most valuable services.
Other publications, now under the direction of publication committee chairman Kelvin Masson of
Ferguson, Missouri, were introduced. In 1966 The Ten Piano-Violin Sonatas of Beethoven by Joseph
Szigeti was published. New publications also included several lists and pamphlets, such as Chamber
Music Programs for the Schools by John Celentano, Emil Raab, and an ASTA committee; A Graded List
of Selected Violin and Viola Recordings by Kelvin Masson; The Organization and Function of ASTA
State Units by Jack Pernecky; and Using Orchestral Excerpts as Study Materials by James E. Smith. The
number of publications now available to ASTA members totaled thirty, with still more in preparation.
(Paul Rolland reassumed the post of publications chairman when Masson resigned after only a few
months in office.)
A newsletter written especially for state units was initiated in 1966 by Van Sickle:
The first issue of a news letter to the officers of the state units of the American String
Teachers Association designed to encourage more effective communication between the
elected and appointed leaders of the national and state organizations has been mailed. The
newsletter travels under the title of Inform: State of Strings.
The first issue was edited by President Howard M. Van Sickle. All ASTA officers, state
and national, are invited to contribute thoughts and ideas for the betterment of the
organization through this informal publication.
Since the American String Teacher magazine contains information of more formal and
permanent value, it was felt that the newsletter Inform:, which is printed in mimeographed
form, would not necessarily duplicate the ASTA official magazine.
For some time there had been a growing feeling on the part of executive board members that a fullor part-time employee was needed to handle the diverse organizational activities of ASTA. Business
stemming from ASTA's in-creasing membership, its many programs, and its complexity of organization
was becoming too time-consuming for the officers, all of whom were working on a gratis basis for ASTA
while holding full-time employment elsewhere. This matter was finally resolved in the spring of 1966
with the decision to hire an executive secretary to assume many of the duties formerly performed by
volunteers and to correlate the national program of ASTA. The minutes of the executive board meeting,
held at the Sheraton-O'Hare Inn, Rosemont, Illinois, on June 12,1966, reveal the action taken and
subsequent changes necessary:
Moved that ASTA be reorganized: one central office for ASTA to handle routine business
and correspondence. . . . Motion passed: appoint an executive secretary to start August 1,
1966,. . . The office will be reviewed annually at the summer executive board meeting for
action and re-appointment,
Robert Marince resigned as ASTA Treasurer effective August 1, 1966. The resignation
was accepted by the board.
By action of the executive board, Robert Marince was appointed to be executive
secretary for ASTA starting August 1, 1966.
The office of treasurer will be open as of August 1. Discussion followed. With Marince
to handle the routine correspondence now handled by the ASTA treasurer, the office will
become one of being the elected responsible financial officer of ASTA without the mass of
correspondence formerly a part of the office. The new treasurer will audit the financial
records of the executive secretary and prepare the annual budget among other duties.
With the limited duties now handled by the ASTA secretary it was recommended to
combine the two offices and appoint Shaw to serve the unexpired term of Marince as
treasurer. To accomplish this change permanently will require a change in the ASTA
governing rules. Shaw has been asked to review and suggest changes necessary to the
Constitution and Bylaws to effect this change as well as to accomplish other changes
needed to keep actions of the association legal.
James Shaw assumed the office of treasurer in addition to his secretarial duties for the remainder of
the year, but a new treasurer was elected in the subsequent national election; thus the plan of combining
the two posts permanently was not actually realized.
The duties of the executive secretary, as defined by him in accordance with discussion at the June
meeting, were as follows:
1. He will present annual dues notices May 20 and send out four delinquent reminders each
year (September, November, January, and March).
2. Process all memberships that are sent to his office, forward to MENC and send
reminders to Contributing, Institutional, and Life members regarding additional dues
amounts.
3. Send rebates four times yearly to state presidents (September 15, November 15, January
15, and April 15).
4. Have printed and distribute small quantities of membership cards and carbons to state
presidents where rebates are sent and also, distribute upon request from the membership.
5. Collect fees for magazine advertising and send billing for same.
6. Collect publication debts and send monthly reminders to delinquents.
7. Process all change of addresses, forward to MENC, and mail readdressed returned
magazines to members.
8. Send monthly orange membership report slips to state presidents, pink slips to
membership chairman, and new membership lists to editor and the membership chairman.
9. Supply information regarding summer conferences to old and new prospects and attend
to all correspondence regarding same.
10. Re-route all mail traffic referred to his office to the proper officer if unable to answer.
11. Send out royalties yearly (February and August).
12. Keep weekly and monthly record of income, expenses, and deposits. Send monthly
report of finances and budget to each board member.
13. Submit annual recommended budget and financial report to board members for
suggestions and corrections two months before the annual convention.
14. Gather information about up-coming candidates for the various offices each year. This
is acquired through the president or the nominating committee. Make up ballot and have it
mailed the first week in January. He will also have the ballots returned to his office and
will be in charge of the counting of same. The results are to be forwarded immediately to
the board and the candidates.
15. This officer will act as a resource person for each board member as requested.
16. This office shall be keeper of the official ASTA papers and records.
17. This office will be used to take care of all procedures regarding chartering states but
not organizing same.
18. This office will be used to gather information annually concerning new state officers.
19. This office will not handle any promotions, or be creative in any respect other than
making improvement in its annual duties of ASTA business.
20. The Executive Secretary will be employed annually by the board of directors at its
regular summer meeting. His job responsibility should merit a minimum and maximum
salary according to the size of his duties whenever the organization can afford it.
Also, I would like to state that the Executive Secretary should be a member of the board
since his salary is strictly part-time and dedication does enter into it.
The board members were generally in agreement with the job description, and it became the
guideline for the position; however, there were some misgivings about granting the executive secretary
voting status on the board. Although all other board members rotated periodically due to the expiration of
their terms of office, there was a possibility that the executive secretary's post could be a permanent one,
with a resultant fixed vote, if the same person were reappointed each year. Nevertheless, the final decision
was to designate the executive secretary as an official voting member of the board.
Summer conference-workshops in 1966 remained the responsibility of a special committee, but in
subsequent years were to come under the jurisdiction and guidance of the executive secretary. The
fourteen scheduled conferences included new locations at Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia,
Kansas; University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida; University of California, Santa Barbara, California;
Gorham State College, Gorham, Maine; San
Francisco State College, San Francisco, California; and Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
The Van Sickle administration continued to make every effort to cooperate with all other
organizations which had as their purpose the promotion of strings. A stimulating alliance developed with
the Catgut Acoustical Society. This alliance led to a number of interesting articles in the American String
Teacher and, at the 1967 convention, to collaboration on a session entitled "Extending the Violin WorldScientifically." At this convention, held April 18-21, 1967, in St. Louis in conjunction with MTNA,
another alliance was brought to the foreground. This was with the Double Bass Guild, a newly organized
association for those actively teaching or performing on the double bass.
Announced as new executive officers of ASTA at the convention were treasurer, Ralph Matesky,
University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, and membership chair-man, G. Jean Shaw, Madison
College, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Samuel Applebaum, Maplewood, New Jersey, long-time ASTA member
and noted clinician and teacher, was presented the bust of Paganini in token of having been selected as
String Teacher of the Year. Given the public service award was the American Federation of Musicians in
recognition of the worth of the Congress of Strings project.
Although ASTA was a legally incorporated organization, there remained legal technicalities which
had not been resolved. One of these was finally negotiated in 1967. For several years ASTA officers had
been voicing their concern that the organization had no legal tax-exemption number on file with the
federal government. This meant, in effect, that contributions to ASTA were not legally tax-deductible, and
also that the annual dues paid by each member could not legally be listed on the personal income tax
return as a deductible expense. That the problem was first investigated in 1965 was indicated in a letter,
dated November 18, 1965, from Robert Marince, then ASTA treasurer, to the executive board:
The following explanation is being offered regarding our filing for a tax exempt number:
I first consulted with the family lawyer. He then used the means at his disposal for
gathering information relative to acquiring the tax exempt number. It suddenly became
very involved and he made an appointment for the both of us with another counselor-atlaw, Mr. Morton Deitz, who has a great amount of experience in filing tax exempt number
applications.
From the very beginning of the conference with Mr. Deitz I was on the defensive side. It
appears that we are villains along with other similar associations who have not bothered to
apply for a tax exempt status when incorporated. It would have been very easy at that time.
In order to file now we need a multitude of records. Just to name a few: certified copy of
constitution, certified copy bylaws, classified statement of receipts, etc., for the past ten
years, everything involved with our publications, selling of books, selling of advertising
and so on and so forth. We also need the documents of the predecessor organization before
incorporation .... One thing is for certain, I cannot explain or pass on to you all of the
information conveyed to me by the tax attorney. The way he spelled it out, a lot of small
community organizations could be in for government trouble if the government so wished
to prosecute.
All of this adds up to the following capsule: The total _fee for making application for us
would be in the neighborhood of $3,000.00 and possibly higher. He would require a
retainer fee of $1,500.00 and would need the r authority to higher [hire] accounting
services to be paid by ASTA.
... I think each of us should consult our lawyers and double check everything I have
presented above.
Paul Rolland, at that time president, responded in a letter, dated January 5,1966, to the board:
A quick note concerning the tax exemption problem. I called the University's legal office
and I was advised to go to the District Director of the Internal Tax Revenue. I went there
today and received the forms necessary for application and also discussed the matter with
an advisor.
It appears that the problem is not nearly as complicated as Bob was made to believe.
Lawyers have a tendency to blow up a simple matter and leave us with an inferiority
complex-this is good for their business. ... It appears t¥^ the only thing we need to furnish
is an annual finance. report, and my informant tells me that according to the statutes we
need to go back only for the past three years.
Apparently, however, the initial report from Marince was the more accurate, as it was to be another
year and a half before the government finally received all the material necessary for action.
Correspondence revealed the chain of events. On August 31,1966, a letter from Marince was sent to Van
Sickle:
Emergency! Just received a call from the Internal Revenue Office. They are still working on our tax
exemption number. They are requesting some 42 additional issues of the American String Teacher just
published. We need these to send to the various tax offices throughout the country where our chapters are
located. We must do this to get tax exemption coverage for all our chapters.
The man at the tax office also stated that I will need a copy of our uniform state charter .... Send me a
few extra copies of our constitution and bylaws and also the original articles of incorporation.
Another letter, dated September 15, 1966, was written by Marince to Van Sickle:
Thank you for the copy of the constitution and bylaws: however, this is the same type of copy that I sent
to the tax office, and it was not acceptable. Evidently, they want a copy of the original. How can we get
it? It must be in the state of Iowa.
I have several affidavits to make up and notarize. I hope that Jack Pernecky has a state charter
available for me. This is needed.
A letter, dated October 18,1966, from Marince was sent to the executive board:
Concerning our tax exempt status. It now appears that everything is located here in
Newark, New Jersey. Paul had applied in Illinois. The tax office there sent all the records
to Newark and I have been in close contact with the Newark office regarding procedures.
To date, I have submitted much material and several affidavits. It seems that we must
approach all of the Internal Revenue offices in each state chapter locality. The Newark
office has also stated that since you are requesting a national tax exempt for all chapters,
our records must now go to Washington, D. C. If you have followed me so far, give
yourself an A! I suppose we will get this in due time, but don't start biting your fingernails
yet.
Completion of the project was finally reported at the summer meeting of the executive board in 1967:
Tax status received by letter and copies given to board members. Letter from Internal
Revenue Service, June 16, 1967, file T: EP: EO: R: 4-WRM, says in part, "You and your
subordinate units, whose names appear on the list you recently submitted, are exempt from
Federal income tax under section 501 (c) (6) of the Internal Revenue Code." The
Employees Identification Number of ASTA is 22-6080964.
Although cost of the venture did not approach the original estimate, the amount of paper work and
the number of man-hours expended were certainly significant.
Since the appearance of the group of young Japanese violinists and their teacher Shinichi Suzuki at
the national convention in 1964 and the subsequent co-sponsorship by ASTA of summer Suzuki
workshops, the pages of the American String Teacher had extensively featured articles on the Suzuki
approach to string teaching. An outgrowth of this avid interest was announced in early 1967:
A tour to visit Shinichi Suzuki in Japan for members of the American String Teachers
Association is being planned for the summer of 1967. The tentative tour dates are July 26
to August 18 (24 days).
The objectives of this tour will be to observe the teaching on location at the Talent
Education studios, to attend the Matsumoto Summer School for Suzuki Teachers, and to
tour Japan to observe other musical activities.
The estimated cost for this 24-day trip is $975.00 including travel, board and room.
College credit will also be offered for the tour experience.
This tour, under the direction of Carl Schultz, Howard Van Sickle, and John Kendall, became an
annual event open to string teachers in the United States. In addition, the first
Japan tour brought about a Talent Education library. Aboard the plane on their return trip the tour
participants donated some $1,200.00 to help develop a much needed string library.
Suzuki was again brought to the United State in the summer of 1967, to participate in ASTAsponsored workshops at Flint, Michigan, and Mankato, Minnesota, as well as at a number of
independently sponsored clinics. The Flint and Mankato workshops were new locations on the ASTA
workshop circuit in 1967, along with Douglas College of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New
Jersey; and Elon College, Burlington, North Carolina. The 1967 summer workshop list totaled thirteen.
Membership and interest in ASTA continued to grow. Figures for 1967-68 indicated that over 3,300
members were now on the roll, and the budget for operations had exceeded the $30,000 mark. New units
chartered in Montana and West Virginia left a total of only nine unchartered states. The chartering of a
unit in Canada was formalized in early 1968, climaxing an unsuccessful struggle by the string teachers of
that country to form an independent organization. The story of this significant development was told in
the American String Teacher:
For the past few years attempts have been made to make the Canadian String Teachers
Association into a vigorous and meaningful organization. Unfortunately this has not
happened and after all the smoke from various arguments and criticisms has cleared the
reasons for this are very clear: one, because of the small number of people interested in
string development; and two, because of the extreme distances involved and
communication problems.
During the past few months negotiations to become a chapter of the American String
Teachers Association were carried out. Communications with their able president Howard
Van Sickle were very cordial and it soon became apparent that the A.S.T.A. were prepared
to help us in every way.
They were very clear in making it known that theirs was not a "big brother" attitude but
a genuine interest in helping our Canadian development. Through this amalgamation,
members of C.S.T.A. will have access to the excellent magazine and also to the many
workshop and clinic sessions held by this organization. We will have the opportunity to
publish in their excellent publication, news and views related to our Canadian
organization. In time we might be able to go it alone. However, for now this would appear
to be a very healthy relationship for us.
Concurrently there was another amalgamation when the organization known as the Double Bass Guild
affiliated with ASTA. Announcememnt of the affiliation was made by the guild's founder and editor,
Lucas Dres of the University of Miami School of Music:
In November, 1966, by coincidence, two double bass players organizations were
announced at approximately the same time. In the best interests of our profession I feel that
two similar organizations are unnecessary. My concern about this has shaped my thoughts
and modified my actions during the past year.
Therefore, beginning in fall 1968 Double Bass Notes will be printed as a section of the
American String Teacher, the official journal of the American String Teachers Association.
The American Guild of Double Bass Players will cease to exist.
Both the Canada unit and the Double Bass Guild were recognized at the 1968 ASTA convention,
held in Seattle, Washington, in conjunction with MENC. The presentation of awards was again the
highlight of the annual business meeting and reception. Receiving the Paganini Award as String Teacher
of the Year was Joseph Gingold, internation-ally known violinist, teacher, and faculty member at Indiana
University. The National Federation of Music Clubs, represented by Dr. Henry Bruinsma of Arizona State
University, was presented a Paganini Award for Outstanding Public Service to Strings in recognition of
the Federation's Crusade for Strings project.
Officers for the term 1968-1970 were announced in the spring of 1968. Elected as president was
Harry Lantz, supervisor of music in the Houston Public Schools and past-president of the Texas unit of
ASTA. From the University of Southern California, Phyllis Glass, who had served as president of both the
New Jersey and California units of ASTA, was elected secretary. Howard Van Sickle assumed the post of
vice-president, while Ralph Matesky remained treasurer and G. Jean Shaw Smith membership chairman.
The election of Lantz marked the first instance in ASTA's history that the incoming president had not
previously served as a member of the national executive board. This was made possible because of the
continuing office of the executive secretary.
1968 summer conferences, now under the general direction of executive secretary Robert Marince,
who had formulated guidelines and procedures for the establishment and operation of such workshops,
were scheduled at eleven locations. A proposed conference at the University of Minnesota failed to
materialize, but the remaining ten represented good geographical balance. New sites in 1968 were at
Pendleton, Oregon; Indiana University; Hartt College; Washington State University; and Harpur College.
Summer conferences were now attracting from 1,200 to 1,500 student and adult participants each year.
The first board meeting at which Harry Lantz presided was held in Chicago in late June 1968. During
this meeting final action was taken on a proposal made several years earlier concerning ASTA finances–
that the executive secretary be empowered to authorize a yearly audit of ASTA funds by a certified public
accountant and that the results of this audit be published in the American String Teacher. In addition, the
establishment of a voucher system for payment of board members' expenses was suggested by Lantz and
approved by the board. As another means of keeping the membership informed on ASTA proceedings,
the board decided that the approved minutes of all executive board meetings would be published in the
American String Teacher.
Two more major publications by ASTA were added the impressive list of available materials in late
1968 and early 1969. The books- Violin Left Hand Technique by Frederick Neumann and Dictionary of
Bowings by Barbara Seagrave and Joel Berman— could be obtained at a twenty percent discount by
ASTA members. Violin Left Hand Technique had been printed earlier in the American String Teacher in
serialized form, while the Dictionary of Bowings had been a project of the publications committee for
several years. Also in 1968 the Annotated Catalogue of American Violin Music Composed between 19471961 by Jerome Landsman was added to the list of pamphlets published by ASTA.
For the third time in its eighteen-year history the office of editor of the American String Teacher
became vacant when Paul Askegaard resigned in fall 1968. Appointed by the board as the fourth editor
was Anthony J. Messina, district director of music for the Plainedge Public Schools on Long Island, New
York, and past-president of the New York ASTA unit. Askegaard was honored with a citation presented
to him at the ASTA annual convention, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in March of 1969. The citation, signed
by Harry Lantz, read:
The American String Teachers Association wishes it to be known with regret that Paul
Askegaard, who has served with distinction as editor of the official publication of the
American String Teachers Association, American String Teacher, for the past three years,
will be leaving the office and the official board. We honor his devotion, dedication, and
editorial brilliance and on the occasion of the national convention extend to him this
expression of our deepest gratitude for his outstanding service to the cause of strings, this
12th day of March, 1969, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Also honored at this convention for her service as national membership chairman was G. Jean Shaw
Smith, who was replaced by Eugene Hilligoss from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
Presented the ASTA String Teacher of the Year Award was the internationally known cellist Gregor
Piatigorsky, while Heinrich Roth, president of Scheri and Roth, Inc., received the ASTA Distinguished
Service Award. After several successive years of presenting a bust of Paganini to the winners of these
awards, ASTA gave the 1969 recipients a large portrait of Pablo Casals and an engraved certificate on
which was pictured the Paganini bust.
The president announced at the convention that MTNA was heretofore to hold annual national
meetings, and that ASTA would sponsor sessions at these yearly meetings as well as at the MENC
biennial meetings. The official annual business meetings of ASTA would continue to alternate between
national conventions of MENC and MTNA. The board also decided to participate in the annual Midwest
Band and Orchestra Convention in Chicago in December of 1969, to the extent that they would rent a
booth in the display hall for the purpose of exhibiting ASTA publications. Robert Marince announced that
ASTA's fiscal year was now July 1 to June 30, and that all dues received after April 15 would be credited
to the next year.1
The American String Teacher continued its excellence under new editor Anthony Messina. A regular
feature of the magazine was a series of personal interviews with prominent string players and teachers.
These informative articles were written in a most interesting style by Ishaq Arazi from Bloomington,
Minnesota. While the editorship and general control of the journal had shifted from the Midwest to the
East Coast, it is interesting to note that publication and mailing continued in Mankato, Minnesota,
because of the lower publication costs there. In 1969 the board, responding to a suggestion by Ralph
Matesky, sanctioned a new feature in the American String Teacher:
ASTA is offering a national employment service by having members submit, in writing,
requests for vacancies sought and vacancies offered, person and place to contact, for those
that might be seeking employment in other areas of the country. ASTA is not acting as an
employment agency. This is just a service as information source for those members who
may be interested.
Notices from job applicants, as well as notices of available positions, appeared regularly in the next
several issues of the journal. Noticeably missing from the journal, however, were the minutes of ASTA
board meetings-the intended publication of which had been announced in June 1968. After the inclusion
of minutes from June 1968 and March 1969, no more evidence was seen of this particular feature.
Approved overwhelmingly by the membership in early 1969, a revision of the national constitution
created a new post in the administrative hierarchy. In the new organizational structure the office of
treasurer was eliminated, the retiring president assumed the title of past-president, and the vice-president
was to be elected. Appointed vice-president was Ralph Matesky, who had been serving as treasurer.
A feeling of disenchantment with the annual summer conferences was evidenced in 1969; some of
the board members felt that ASTA was represented in name only at many of the conferences and that
expense and possible failure of these conferences could harm ASTA's reputation. Ralph Matesky was
directed to make a thorough study of the situation with a view toward major revision of the standing
policies. However, eleven conferences, all ASTA approved, were held in 1969 with new locations at the
University of New Mexico, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Oregon, and Syracuse
University.
Membership at the end of the fiscal year 1968—69 stood at 3,531, a new high. Active units in fortyone states were carrying on the work of ASTA at the local level and were, in general, the real driving
forces. Although a need for better communication between state and national officers were often
expressed, a move to organize state presidents as an official body, to be known as the Council of State
Presidents, was soundly defeated in a vote taken at a meeting of the national executive board and the state
presidents in March 1969.
As a means of establishing a national identification for ASTA, Robert Marince recommended to the
board that a specific logogram be adopted as the official mark of ASTA.
Final action on this was reported in July 1969:
Matesky moved that ASTA accept the logo designed by Paul Marince [commercial artist, graduate of the
University of Michigan in art design, and brother of executive secretary Robert Marince] with gratitude
and appreciation, and that his logo officially appear on all printed material emanating from all official
sources of ASTA. Seconded by Glass. Carried.
The logogram, consisting of the letters ASTA in script form superimposed on four horizontal lines
which represent the four strings, subsequently appeared on all certificates, stationery, and on the cover of
the American String Teacher, as well as on all other materials published by ASTA. Stationery, featuring a
large violin as a watermark, was also designed by Paul Marince and was accepted as ASTA's official
stationery.
Activities in late 1969 consisted mainly of preparation for the annual convention, which was to be
held in conjunction with MENC in Chicago in March of 1970. The committee appointed by President
Harry Lantz to name the recipients of ASTA awards recommended as String Teacher of the Year,
William Primrose, artist violist and master teacher; and for outstanding service to strings. Merle Isaac,
active member of ASTA and composer of many string and orchestra pieces for young players. These
awards were presented at the Chicago convention as a part of the annual official business meeting and
reception.
Although the general meeting and the meetings of the executive board held at this convention did not
produce many major decisions, many items of business were discussed and given a first hearing for
purposes of later decision and implementation. Matters relating to a change in the dues structure, further
realignment of the executive board, recognition of student chapters, and the reevaluation of ASTA's duespayments relationship with MENC were some of the items with which the new administration would have
to contend.
Chapter 8
The Matesky Presidency (1970-1972)
The new administration, elected by mail-vote of the membership, was announced in the spring of 1970.
Ralph Matesky of Utah State University, Logan, Utah, was elected president, and Phyllis Glass was reelected secretary. As a result of constitutional amendments approved by the same mail-vote, the executive
board set up the necessary machinery to implement these new policies:
According to the constitutional amendments, the 1970 new officers, president and
secretary, will take office thirty days after the election which was officially March 7, 1070.
In view of the transition of the new board of vice-president (old constitution) will be
vacant. To fill this office and retain a complete board until a new president-elect may be
voted upon, the president, with the consent of the board, has appointed Howard Van Sickle
as interim vice-president. This action clears the way for the subsequent election in 1971
and following elections under provisions of the new amendments as follows:
1971 president-elect for a one-year term;
1972 president-elect and secretary for two-year terms;
1974 president-elect and secretary.
The constitutional amendments referred to in the minutes included provision for the following
realignment of the lie-executive board: the office of membership chairman was to be abolished because its
duties had been largely assumed by the executive secretary; the vice-president was to be designated
president-elect; and the publications chairman be made a member of the board.
The future activities and functions of ASTA as expressed by Ralph Matesky, based on his many
years of service as assistant editor of the American String Teacher and as treasurer, were detailed in the
American String Teacher:
A new administration starts out with "brave new ideas." This one is no exception, even
though it follows men and women whose contributions to ASTA it would be proud to
match.
A dynamic and growing organization like ASTA not only provides the challenge of
greater opportunities and advantages to its members, but also inherits new problems as
well-and, sometimes, old problems too.
The broad responsibilities of the president and the board are to (1) carry on the business
of the organization, (2) develop the existing programs, and (3) initiate new ideas and
programs.
Too often, however, the membership is content to leave these duties solely to the
president and hoard and will abide the status quo, or will be satisfied with mere carping or
complaint from time to time. It is urged, for that reason, that you not play the role of the
"silent majority," that you be vocal, or better yet, instrumental in expressing yourselves to
your elected representatives—your state presidents and national hoard. Let them and us
know what you want done; let us know what we do that you like or dislike; and tell us how
you think it might be improved upon. If you do not participate in active suggestion and
constructive criticism, you are endangering your inherent "right to complain" and
depriving ASTA of possible important contributions to its growth and strength.
To assist us in coordinating and synthesizing our thinking and action, (lie following
thirteen-point program is set forth:
(1) To increase a constant and continuing dialogue between the national board, state
presidents and the membership.
(2) To raise membership dues in all categories in order meet costs of administering ASTA
affairs:
(a) Provide wider and better services;
(b) Build membership;
(c) Increase publications;
(d) Assist in state and regional meetings via in-creased participation, promotion and
materials;
(e) Build even more cogent conference involvement wish MENC and MTNA at both
state and national levels;
(f) Implement the additional ideas set forth below.
(3) To eliminate the bottleneck of compiling accurate and complete membership lists and
of getting rebates hack more efficiently and systematically.
(4) To increase the total membership from the present approximate 3,700 to 5,000 by 1972.
(5) To greatly expand student membership, activities and participation at all levels—local,
state, and national.
(6) To develop a guide or handbook for state presidents to assist them in better
administration of their office.
(7) To explore the critically important area of teacher-training via research, articles in the
American String Teacher. and increased sessions at state, regional and national
conferences dealing with this area.
(8) To maintain the high scholarly level of the American String Teacher and to widen its
dissemination.
(9) To broaden I lie scope, of articles in the American String Teacher with more emphasis
on matters pertaining to music education in the public schools so that string educators and
non-string-playing teachers will find much of value to them in ASTA membership.
(10)To explore and. determine upon a more expeditious policy regarding publishing and
disseminating the excellent range and quality of ASTA publications.
(11)To develop a closer liaison or affiliation with all sister professional organizations,
especially those involved in string and orchestra development here in the United States,
and abroad as well.
(12) To provide some type of ever-widening and effective employment exchange or forum
via the American String Teacher.
(13) To search out ways and means of providing the services and programs listed above at
the most nominal cost, but in the finest tradition of ASTA.
You will be hearing and reading more and more as each of the points in the program takes
shape, develops, and is brought to fruition. Your reaction, comment and help is sincerely
encouraged. Join with all of us to build an even more effective ASTA.
Announcement of a dues' increase, referred to above, appeared in the same issue of the American
String Teacher. The need for this increase had been the subject of much discussion for several months,
and, at the convention in spring 1970, each state president had been urged to carry out a grass-roots
survey of the membership's feelings on the matter and report his findings to the national officers. Reaction
apparently was favorable, as the minutes of an ASTA executive board telephone conference held on April
26, 1970, read:
After discussion Messina moved that we approve the proposed changes as follows: active
memberships—$6.00 ($5.00 national and $1.00 rebate); student memberships remain the
same-$2.00 national and whatever the states may now be adding to the national;
institutional—$15.00; contributing members-$30.00; and life members-$175.00. Hilligoss
seconded the motion. Approved.
The matter of ASTA sponsorship of summer string conferences, discussed in detail in 1969 and
subjected to thorough examination by the president, executive secretary, and other national and state
officers, was given clear definition and direction by action of the executive board in its 1970 summer
meeting. Approved at this meeting was a detailed revised set of policies for ASTA summer conferences.
These policies were to be made available to all prospective sponsors of conferences.2 In 1970 only ten
conferences were held—the fewest since 1964. However, several new locations appeared on the list,
including those at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah; Western Michigan University,
Kalamazoo, Michigan; the University of South Florida, Sarasota, Florida; Southern Methodist University,
Dallas, Texas; the University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois; and State University of New York, Fredonia,
New York.
At the July 1970 meeting of the executive board, two new publications were approved for ASTA
distribution: Head, Hand and Heart, a discussion of cello techniques and ideas related to cello playing
written by Ida Roettinger, and The Written Labors of 24 Master Violinists by Kelvin Masson. At this
meeting the contract with the Johnson Reprint Company, which had been reprinting copies of the
American String Teacher, was cancelled due to the exorbitant costs now involved. Reprints, selling at a
cost of eight cents per page, were subsequently to be made available through xerographic methods.
During the spring of 1970 ASTA participated in national conventions both with MENC and MTNA.
The sessions at the MTNA convention, held in Miami, Florida, were not considered successful from the
points of view of attendance and cost. The enormous involvement of ASTA in national, regional, and
state conferences each year presented physical, financial, and educational problems which led to a reevaluation of conference policies. Thus, the following action was taken:
Hilligoss moved that in view of the fact that ASTA has had two national conventions within this past
year because of MTNA's decision to have annual conventions, and also in view of the fact that we met
two consecutive years with MTNA . . . , it is not financially feasible for us to participate in another
national convention in 1971. Added to the foregoing, and because ASTA has commitments in 1971 with
six MENC regional conventions, I move that ASTA forego participation in another national convention in
1971. Seconded by Messina. Passed unanimously by board members present, but in view of the
importance of this motion, board members Van Sickle and Lantz [absent from this meeting] will be
polled.1
It was then decided that the official 1970-71 ASTA national meeting would take place at the
Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago in December 1970. At this time most of the traditional
functions of ASTA national conventions would occur, including a state presidents' luncheon, an executive
board meeting, and the annual ASTA reception and awarding of honors. Although the decision was to
have the national meeting in conjunction with the Chicago Midwest Clinic, ASTA did cooperate in six
regional MENC conferences during the 1970—71 year. Regional appointees representing ASTA were
included on the program-planning committee for each of the conferences.
The decision not to participate as a national organization in the 1971 MTNA convention was
confirmed at the December meeting of the executive board, although a continuing attitude of cooperation
with MTNA was af-firmed. Minutes of that meeting revealed the following:
The following decisions of the ASTA executive board will be communicated to Kennedy [James Paul
Kennedy, vice-president of MTNA] by Matesky:
(1) Robert Oppelt, president of the Illinois state ASTA unit, has been authorized to
cooperate fully with MTNA in providing string sessions for the MTNA national
convention in Chicago, March 1971. It should be under-stood that this activity on the part
of ASTA is not at the national convention level, and is the responsibility of the Illinois
state unit.
(2) The national executive board of ASTA, at the December meetings in Chicago, has also
expressed t.-desire to cooperate with MTNA at state, divisional and national levels by
providing the advice and assistance of ASTA representatives in the planning of MTNA
conferences at the request of MTNA.
This matter of MTNA-MENC-ASTA relationships was the main topic of discussion at the ASTA
state presidents' luncheon held during the Midwest conference. Matesky urged each state president to
explore and examine his own and his membership's thinking on the matter and to report conclusions
reached.
For several months correspondence between Ralph Matesky and Malvin Artley, president of the
National School Orchestra Association, had been concerned with promoting a spirit of warmer
cooperation between NSOA and ASTA. Since NSOA was also involved in the program of the Midwest
conference, the setting was a natural one for developing closer communication between the two
organizations. As a result, Matesky invited Artley to the ASTA executive board meeting. After long and
frank discussion, the following action ensued:
Marince moved that Ralph Matesky, president of ASTA, communicate with Malvin
Artley, president of NSOA, to explore guidelines and proposals, including pros and cons,
for the possible merger of these organizations, the results to be presented to their respective
executive board or committee for consideration and action. Seconded by Van Sickle.
Motion carried unanimously.
For the 1970-71 ASTA awards, a new epoxy sculpture of Eugene Ysaye was created by sculptor
Frank Gallo. Joseph Fuchs, internationally famous violinist and teacher, was presented the sculpture in
honor of having been chosen artist-teacher of the year. The Fine Arts Quartet was presented the
Distinguished Service Award in recognition of its members' twenty-five years of service in artistic and
educational fields. Members of the quartet were Leonard Sorkin, Abram Loft, Bernard Zaslav, and
George Sopkin. Policies of the Midwest conference prohibited special musical performances at auxiliary
meetings such as ASTA's, As a result, the national board was forced to withdraw its request that the
winners perform at the award ceremony. Instead, the program for the ceremony consisted of short
addresses by each of the award winners. ASTA and President Matesky were also recipients of awards at
this meeting. Acting Belgian Consul General of the Chicago Chancellery, Michel Geuens, representing
the Foundation Eugene Ysaye, presented the Diplome d'Honneur and the Ysaye Medal to both Matesky
and ASTA. The Consul spoke of the recognition of the master, Eugene Ysaye, by ASTA, its president,
and many ASTA members who had become members of the Foundation.
Because of the continuing growth of ASTA, the fact that the mailing services provided by MENC
were no longer expedient became evident in the late 1960's. Increasing numbers of complaints from
ASTA membership regarding the length of time required for services occasioned a decision by the
executive secretary and executive board to quarter all membership services in the office of the executive
secretary in Trenton, New Jersey. A gradual move in this direction began in 1966 and was completed in
1971; thus, the entire membership-processing procedure was now being administered by the executive
secretary. Efficient management of the membership list was now a possibility, since all lists, records, etc.,
were housed and handled in one central office.
A renewed interest in the summer conference-work-shops was evidenced in the summer of 1971. A
total of sixteen conferences—a new high—was reported in the spring
1971 issue of the American String Teacher. Although many of these conferences were well established,
several new locations were also listed. Among these were Kansas State
University, the University of Miami, the University of Idaho, Manhattan School of Music, Chicago
Musical Col-lege, Wisconsin State University at Stevens Point, the University of Iowa, and Westcliffe,
Colorado. Because of interest in the summer workshops, plans were discussed at the July 1971 executive
board meeting to broaden the scope of the 1972 summer program to include international sites,
specifically in Austria and England.
Other important business included the announcement of the chartering of two new state units of
ASTA—Idaho and South Dakota; the decision to sponsor a display booth at the Midwest Clinic in
Chicago in December 1971; the certification of the election of Robert Oppelt of Illinois State University,
Normal, Illinois, as president-elect; the appointment of Robert Ritsema of Hope College, Holland, MI, as
official ASTA historian; and the official ratification of a three-year contract with Theodore Presser
Company to service all ASTA publications with the exception of the American String Teacher. Prior to
this time all publications had been stored at and sent from the University of Illinois, with billing and
payment processed by the executive secretary's office. The new arrangement was designed to give ASTA
publications a permanent base; to review and select those proved books, pamphlets, and other publications
for wider dissemination; to define the relationships and functions of the publications chairman, the ASTA
board, and future authors; and to clarify the financial and promotional aspects of ASTA's publishing
ventures, which had reached extensive proportions.
Much of the discussion at the board meeting centered around the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration
of ASTA, which would culminate in activities at the national meeting held in conjunction with MENC in
Atlanta, Georgia, in March 1972. Although a provisional ASTA had been established in 1946, the
permanent organization was founded in the spring of 1947, making the 1972 meeting a fitting occasion
for the silver anniversary celebration.
Midway through his administration, Ralph Matesky issued a progress report on his program for
ASTA. Writing in the American String Teacher, he stated:
In the summer 1970 issue of the American String Teacher, your president set forth a
program of objectives. Now, one year later, it is time to take inventory of these and to
bring the membership up to date on accomplishments.
(1) Communication between the National Executive Board, State Presidents and the
general member-ship has been kept at an increasingly close and continuous level. Every
effort has been made to keep you appraised of events relevant to your interests.
(2) Membership has been increasing; South Dakota and Idaho have formed new state units
this year and student memberships throughout the country have made great gains. Eugene
Hilligoss, whose office of national membership chairman expires by constitutional
amendment this year, deserves much credit for this. The exemplary student chapter in
Colorado—Wyoming has set the pace for the nation. Congratulations to all of you on your
efforts and achievements. Keep up this campaign and continue to bring more and more
young people into ASTA in active and relevant relation-ships. We would like to have our
first national student meeting at the Silver Anniversary Celebration in Atlanta in March,
1972.
(3) Important strides have been made in bringing ASTA into more meaningful
relationships and clearer understandings with our affiliate and sister organizations: MENC,
NSOA, MTNA, A. F. of M., ASOL and NMC. The coming year will see the development
of important projects which should benefit all our members.
(4) ASTA publications have now been transferred to the Theodore Presser Publishing
Company with whom the Board has signed a contract for a period of three years. Presser,
with knowledgeable Paul Rolland as Publications Chairman of ASTA, will be handling
new publications as well as promotion and dissemination of all ASTA materials.
(5) The Summer Workshops sponsored by ASTA and excellently administered by Robert
Marince, National Executive Secretary, have increased in size, scope, and number. The
new policy regarding expansion to more than one ASTA sponsored workshop per state has
been adopted by the Board and should have salutary effects throughout the country.
(6) The magazine, under the fine editorship of Anthony J. Messina, has made great strides
in widening its coverage in bringing articles and information of interest to more and more
ASTA members. If you have ideas, articles or suggestions, please send them to Tony
Messina. He welcomes your comment.
(7) Plans for the gala 25th Jubilee Celebration of the founding of ASTA at the 1972
National MENC-ASTA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, are proceeding well. Your
President, National Executive Board, Regional Chairman, State Presidents have been
working all year and exploring plans which are proving to be more and more exciting.
More on this as things come to fruition. Kudos to the Virginia unit of ASTA for the first
state event dedicated to celebrating the Silver Anniversary .... We would encourage all
state units to emulate Virginia's example in some special way.
(8) The ASTA National Committee on String Teacher Education has the endorsement and
cooperation of the MENC National Board. Work has commenced in this important area.
Dr. Joan Boney has accepted the task of working with your president in the preparation of
a questionnaire to be widely disseminated this fall. Others already involved in the work are
Dr. Robert Klotman, Thomas Wisniewski and Samuel Applebaum. The additional
members of the National String Teacher Education Committee will be appointed during
the summer meetings of your National Executive Board scheduled for July 30-August 1. It
is expected that some fifteen persons of national repute, representing professional,
educational, and industrial facets of string playing and teaching will serve on this
important committee. If you have a special reason for wanting to serve on the committee,
or if you know someone whom you think can bring his special qualifications to it, please
write your president immediately with your recommendations.
We are moving forward well on many fronts and, though we have many "problems" to meet and
overcome in the months immediately ahead, we have every reason to feel confidence and hope for a
better, larger, and stronger ASTA.
This is the time for every member to rejoin his professional organization and to bring another
member in with him. I urge each of you to send your membership in as soon as possible, and, in the wide
and more important matter of contributing to the general musical strength throughout the country, I urge
you also to join your state and national MENC units. One has but to look about him these days to realize
that the old practice of splintering our forces and "grinding our own axes in our own little corners" serves
only to weaken us all. It is critical that we view ourselves as musicians and educators, or music educators
in the most professional sense of the word, and, for the sake of our profession and our duty to the millions
of children and students in our charge, to prepare ourselves well and completely in the never-ending
search to improve the standards of learning, performing, teaching, and listening.
The arts, once again, are in a struggle for survival as well as expansion. Today, opportunities for
progress are enormous, but the consequences of apathy could be devastating. To paraphrase Patrick
Henry, if we don't want to hang separately, we must join hands and work together.
In an area of limited constituency, ASTA's statistical-records of progress during its first twenty-five
years were truly remarkable. Its membership had grown from an initial group of 19 to 3,808 at the end of
fiscal year 1970—71. Included in this membership were 1,225 studio teachers; 859 college teachers;
1,237 public school teachers; 737 professional teacher-performers; and 672 members listed as "interested
in string development." (There was some duplication in the membership categories.) Further membership
breakdown indicated totals of 1,722 violin players, 895 viola players, 608 cello players, and 337 string
bass players. Its roll included members from thirteen foreign countries as well as an active unit in Canada.
Forty-two states appeared on the roster of chartered state units. The annual budget had grown from an
initial nineteen dollars to over $36,000 in 1970-71.
Although the organization had experienced impressive growth and its contributions to string playing,
teaching, and literature had been significant, there remained unlimited responsibilities and opportunities
for ASTA in the future. Included in these were the following: (1) continuing efforts to reach
rapprochement with the National School Orchestra Association for combined promotion of strings and
orchestras; (2) striving toward and equitable and functional relationship with MTNA; (3) facing problems
posed by the MENC-NEA "conflict" and its resultant impact on all music education organizations; (4)
involving young people in the string movement, an approach so vigorously advocated by Ralph
Matesky—student chapters at the University of Colorado, Del-Mar College in Texas, the University of
Illinois, Utah State University, and the University of Hawaii were already established; (5) developing and
implementing effective teacher-training guidelines; (6) observing the administrative, financial, musical,
and educational results of the publications arrangement with Theodore Presser; (7) developing
international ASTA affiliations and workshops; (8) building wider membership in such areas as the
classic guitar societies in America; and (9) developing and encouraging string playing and teaching at all
levels in this country for the enrichment of national culture.
Conclusion
The forces which have propelled ASTA from its infancy have been generated by a genuine concern
for an enriched national culture. In converting this concern into action an incalculable number of manhours and amount of financial backing have been contributed by those who have worked through and for
the association. The ASTA story has been one of individuals united in a common cause.
Although ASTA's activities have been varied, a survey of its twenty-five years (1946-71) reveals a
continuous thread of involvement in three major interwoven areas: publications, professional
development, and promotion. Stress in publication has been placed on (1) books and pamphlets in an
attempt to make readily available stimulating materials for string teachers' in-service growth and
development; (2) policies and guidelines for the counseling and instruction of teacher-training institutions,
community schools, school boards, parents, and community youth orchestras; and (3) the official journal
and subsidiary journals for communication and information. Consistent efforts have been made to
improve string playing and teaching through the summer workshop programs, convention clinics, Suzuki
tours and demonstrations, and the
aforementioned publications. A concerned effort has been made, through ASTA-sponsored publications
and activities, to sell to the American public the fact that music, especially orchestra music, supplies a
vital dimension to life in an era of increasing leisure time and constant national crisis.
Despite the fact that ASTA has sometimes been criticized as being primarily a Midwest organization,
over a twenty-five year period its officers have been geographically dispersed throughout the United
States. No two presidents have been from the same state, and their locations have ranged from Oregon to
New York. Similarly, there has been no geographical concentration among other national officers. Thus,
ASTA is not, nor has it ever been, limited in geographical scope; and, as a result, its programs have been
nationally effective.
An analysis of membership categories (listed in Chapter Eight) indicates no preponderance of any
one level of string involvement-public school, college, studio, or professional performer. Nevertheless, it
is interesting to note that with two exceptions, the presidents have been college professors (Harry Lantz
was in the public school field when elected, but became a college professor during his term as president).
Reasons for this are obscure, but they include such factors as the college teacher's relatively flexible
schedule which allows him to arrange for travel and meetings; the availability of college and university
facilities and resources to assist him in administrative work; and a tendency of the membership to look to
the college teacher as a leader in his field. Whether the course ASTA followed could have been any
different had all the presidents been, for instance, studio teachers or professional performers is a matter of
speculation. It would seem, however, that each president has made a sincere effort to serve all elements of
the constituency by remaining receptive to suggestions advanced by the membership, and it is to the credit
of the higher educational system in the United States that importance has been placed on answering public
needs through assisting significant organizations such as ASTA.
Although, as in any organization, there has been occasional disillusionment, the steady growth of
ASTA membership and programs attests to its success. Its consequential role in the promotion of string
playing in the schools and in determining teacher-training curricula gives evidence of the import of the
organization in matters relating to the proliferation of string playing. Although there are no national
statistics available on the number and quality of string players in the United States at present compared
with twenty-five years ago, local and state figures give strong credence to the fact that ASTA has, at least
in part, realized the main objective of its founders: the advancement and promotion of string instrument
study and performance in the United States by means of discussion, research, publication, and
sponsorship of all varieties of string music in American school and community life.
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