From the Past-President's Desk
TN ASTA Past-President, Francis Elliott

Announcing a Milestone

Francis Elliott, presently teaching at the Music Academy in Crossville, Tennessee, is marking his 60th year of teaching. He is a retired Professor emeritus from Tennessee Tech University and over the years has conducted many string clinics and workshops for the public schools in the state as well as Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina.

Presently he is involved with the ASTA CAP program for the state of Tennessee and still doing clinics for the schools when called upon.

CLICK HERE to view the program from the recital launching Mr. Elliott's 60th year of actively teaching and performing as a string teacher-performer.

ASTA Certification For Levels of Proficiency and Progress

So much private studio teaching is done with no clear cut goal or plan. We use the excuse that progress and proficiency depends on the talent of the student. Teachers in many cases dismiss their own responsibility for a young student's achievements. A clear given goal must be established. The teacher must nurture and inspire a student to accomplish some established goal regardless of the innate talent that the student might possess. In the fifty five years that I have taught, I have had many students develop and become successful in teaching strings who came to me with very little background or technical proficiency. It is easy to teach the student who has the gift of talent and good background. The challenge is taking the average talent and establish a foundation of fundamentals, good posture, and a thorough knowledge of the principles of sequential pedagogy. It is then possible for a student to build a respectable technical and musical foundation. It prepares them for the necessary training to continue and grow as a successful string teacher. The gifted move on in the venue of performance, and find their own way in a thousand different careers great and small. They still make a major contribution as professional performing musicians. Even among the great talents that had gone through the studios of Galamian and Dorothy Delay, there are only a very few that make the international scene of the concert stage. Yet, in the venue of their given working professions these other talented students have become successful and reknowned in a given perimeter of location of an established musical scene.

Based on the above premise, the ASTA has put in place a national certification program that offers to private studio teachers a quest for a viable commitment for a long term instrumental study program for young string players. It designs the program for all levels of students and raises standards of performance that results in a child truly experiencing accomplishment at all levels of proficiency. This is done in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. The hallmark characteristic of the ASTA's program is the flexibility of the choice of repertoire and studies in which a teacher can choose from. This adds a visible emblem of prestige to a teacher's studio in a given community. Over time, the studio is given more support and the enthusiasm of the parents makes for a better relationship between the home of the child and the studio. This is important. I think there is a consensus that the success of any child must start with the nurturing and fostering of the parent in any endeavor that a child undertakes. A good analogy is that any athletic endeavor that a child undertakes, the parent always is actively involved. The same goes for music lessons.

The initiation of this endeavor must begin with the enthusiastic leadership of the teacher. Start small. Enroll only a very few of your choice students to participate. Personalize and hand out a letter to the parents describing the advantages their child will gain participating in the program. Get the handbook which is available on line of the web site of ASTA. It goes without saying that every teacher who teaches privately, should be a member of the ASTA National Professional Organization. It is inconceivable for any private teacher to teach without professional credentials that go beyond a diploma or degree. I don't think any lawyer, doctor, or any other profession that has private practice would be allowed to practice their professional expertise based only on a degree. They also display their profession by a license and a certificate of membership to their national professional organization. All members of ASTA usually have a certificate of membership hanging on the wall of their studio (or certainly should have).

The final and most important point is the advantages this offers to the students. The preparation of the Certification for Strings is no different than preparing for a studio recital, a youth orchestra audition or a festival except it is non competitive and the examinations are not public. This program make future auditions and performances more successful. They receive well-deserved Certificates of Achievement as they complete the tasks at each level. It becomes an expected annual activity for all students, crowning the progress made each year. Ultimately with a track record the student will gain a national recognition that carries to universities, music schools, youth orchestras, and summer camps which the national standard will be a measuring stick for which a young string player has an accomplished level of advancement for these above institutions. Remember this again, is a national standard that was built by the well recognized and internationally respected American String Teachers Association for the advancement of string playing in America.



  • Submitting News to the TN ASTA Newsletter

    If you would like to submit news or announcements to the TN ASTA newsletter, please email them to Francis Elliott at

    Updates to the newsletter will be made throughout the year. All members are encouraged to submit news

  • Join ASTA or Renew your Membership

    To join ASTA or to renew your membership on line, please click the following link: ASTA Membership or complete this form and return it to the national office (address printed at the bottom of the form).

We are an organization committed to advocacy for education in the performance of violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, and harp.