Allegheny Mountain Strings Project Students to Show their Skills and Upcoming Solo Recital

Have you ever wondered about the violin, viola, cello and string bass students coming in and out of the Highland Center during the late afternoons and evenings during the week? These students are part of the Allegheny Mountain String Project, a string program that began in 2010 and has now been around for 14 years. You’ve seen the string players perform at the Highland Farmer’s Market each summer and at the Veteran Day Celebrations at the school or play on the Annual Christmas Program at the school or even marching in the Highland Fair Parade! These students are from the Highland Studio, under the direction of Gretta Sandberg, and are part of a larger string program that covers not only Highland, but Bath and Alleghany Counties, as well as some students from West Virginia. There are, at present, 57 students enrolled in the Allegheny Mountain String Project (AMSP).


Students from the Highland Studio will perform a solo recital on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. at the Highland Center. There is no cost for admission.


The AMSP began with two string teachers, who believed in the magic of string playing and wanted to start a program here in the mountains. Gretta Sandberg, a teacher who had taught high school orchestras and elementary string programs for 44 years in the public schools partnered with Jaime McArdle, a violinist, who had come to Bath County and wanted to teach. The program was, at the beginning, under the financial sponsorship of the Garth Newel Music Center. After several years, the AMSP became part of the educational programs of Garth Newel. The program is a comprehensive string education program, including private lessons, group lessons, chamber music ensembles, and has included a youth orchestra for all children of school age within driving distance of activities in Alleghany, Bath, and Highland Counties. AMSP students learn to play a wide variety of musical styles, from bluegrass to Bach, based on the guidelines of the American Music System which includes American and Appalachian folk songs and fiddle tunes for early instruction. Scholarships are available through funding from the Alleghany Foundation, Bath County Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge, the Highland County Arts Council, the Bolar Ruritan Club, and private donations. AMSP believes that everyone should have the opportunity to gain experience in playing a string instrument, no matter their financial situation. Activities take place at the Garth Newel Music Center, the Highland Center in Monterey, and various locations in Covington, Millboro and Clifton Forge.


Come see all of the progress the Highland students have made this year at The Highland Center on March 3 at 3 p.m.


For more information about the AMSP, visit To inquire about lessons in Highland, email:

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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