National alternative strings teacher to work with local students

Fiddling, jazz, rock, world music -- a whole new dimension of music is about to open up for orchestra students in Hays.

On May 16, Julie Lyonn Lieberman, a nationally known educator, author and performer in the Alternative Strings movement, will be working with USD 489 middle and high school orchestra students on how to play non-classical music. Lieberman has written numerous books and created instructional videos on the subject. The students will work with her to learn new styles and techniques of playing their instruments -- those used in fiddling, jazz and rock.

"I've been wanting to introduce our kids to jazz and improvisation," said JoLynne Hutton, orchestra director at Felten Middle School. "The chance to bring Julie in for this special workshop is a great opportunity to expand their horizons."

Leiberman's visit to USD 489 is being sponsored in part by the Hays Schools Orchestra Boosters Club.

Leiberman will be in town the day before to run a pedagogy workshop on alternative strings for Fort Hays State University's Western Kansas String Academy.

"We wanted to incorporate more alternative styles of music in our program but felt we needed to train our staff first," said Cathy Drabkin, acting director for the String Academy. "So the academy applied for and received a grant from the Mockingbird Foundation to sponsor Leiberman's visit."

Leiberman will be working all day with FHSU string majors and area orchestra teachers on specific teaching techniques for introducing alternative styles to classical players.
In addition, the Mockingbird grant will allow the academy to host a two-week Alternative Styles camp for young string players throughout the region in June.

"Music is a way to express ourselves. There's a whole world of it for us to explore and experience," said Drabkin.

Drabkin can be contacted by e-mail at or by phone at (785) 623-4187. The String Academy Web site is

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