Allegheny Mountain String Project welcomes 2 new teachers

Bath County offers two unusually good musical opportunities for young people. One of them is the Allegheny Mountain String Project. Jamie McArdle, program director, and violin teacher, describes a couple of recent changes for the project.

“We are a program that is part of Garth Newel Music Center, but we also have locations in Monterey at the Highland Center which is now at the Highland Inn temporarily, Garth Newel Music Center, of course, and in Allegheny county we have a teaching center at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts.”

Greta Sandburg is the instructor for the Highland area students, and both she and Jamie are very practiced in working with beginners through advanced in a way that keeps them students for life. Again Jamie McArdle.

“Students learn an American Music System, which is what we are using here, which is also quite a new idea developing around the country now. What that means is that students start with American music, like folk music. Most students start with folk music no matter which way they’re learning. But often in the string music world it is often European folk music, which is also great. We have such a strong American folk music history that it made a lot of sense to start using some of our tunes in the mix. So, students that are in the Allegheny Mountain String Project learn a lot of American music to begin with. Then what our intention is, is for students to be able to play any kind of music. They can play Western classical music like Mozart and Beethoven, and they can also learn to play some blue grass, and some jazz, and to be creative and improvise, and that kind of a scope of learning is pretty new in the string world as well, and we’re really excited that we’re on the kind of cutting edge right now. Seeing that develop in our students has been really fun. So not only do they have concerts a couple times a year on a stage with piano, and formal recitals, but they also play with Southern Rail Express on occasion which has been a wonderful opportunity from that Bluegrass Band that’s welcomed the students to come an get an experience in a bluegrass band. We perform in lots of places like the Maple Festival and the Bluegrass Jamboree. Some of students have gone into a recording studio with a band and learned how that whole process works. So we’re hoping to develop a full musician whose has options as they grow up to do whatever they like.”

Accomplished teachers are as glad to use this method, as the students are to be growing in it.

“This has been a really exciting development for us. Because we’ve just had some teachers come into the area that want to be here, and are able to offer high quality instruction. We are really thrilled to be part of it; it’s pretty exciting.”

We have a new cello teacher starting this year. She’ll be teaching at Clifton Forge School of the Arts. Her name is Michelle Williams. Her studio is completely open. She’s got a couple of registrations, but we have plenty of room still, and we’d love to see new cellists who might be interested get involved, and start taking lessons with her there.”

If Clifton Forge is a little too far off your regular route for weekly lessons, then there is another opportunity too. Again Jamie,

“We have also welcomed Ting Ting Yen into the Allegheny Mountain String Project, and she’s teaching violin. She’ll be teaching really in the Millboro area of Bath County with the possibility of expanding into areas as available. So we’re able to take a lot of new students in the Millboro and Bath County area.”

To make sure all area students who might be interested will consider this great opportunity, Jamie explains one more thing.

“I always want to make sure that people realize that even if they don’t have an instrument, or they think they may not be able to afford adding lessons to their schedule, we have funding to help kids gets started and we never want finances to be a barrier to anyone who is interested in learning to play a string instrument.”

Please call Garth Newel at 839-   for more information, or visit


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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