ASTA 75th Anniversary
History Highlights

2021 marks ASTA's Diamond Anniversary. That is 75 years of vision, innovation, organization, creativity, initiatives, assessment, reevaluation, and much more. The first leaders saw the need for a national organization focused on string teaching and playing in the early 1940s. Early gatherings, and indeed the first part of our history, were supported by organizations such as MENC (now NAfME), MTNA, and a few state and local string organizations. The early planning and organization of ASTA culminated in formal meetings in 1946. While the bylaws and articles of constitution were not fully realized until a few years later, ASTA uses 1946 as our founding year. When rereading articles and president’s messages in previous American String Teacher journals, one will see the breadth and depth of interests of our membership, common themes that still resonate with the membership today, innovative approaches to teaching and playing, a vision for continued growth and community within and among the membership and the world, a passion for inclusivity and access, and a commitment to excellence in string teaching and performing. Now as in our past, achievements are celebrated, resources and information are shared, and the leadership continues to strive to be responsive to and provide opportunities for the membership while advocating for and advancing the profession.

Did you know that ASTA has hosted or participated in conferences in more than 30 cities representing over 20 states? This is not including the many regional and state workshops held across the nation over the years. Did you know that ASTA has been affiliated with or represented in national and international organizations and policy-making bodies advocating for and promoting the benefits of music education and specifically string music education? Examples of which include U.S. trade policy on imports of musical instruments, the second Tanglewood Symposium, and the development and implementation of the National Standards in Music.

We encourage you to read the articles published for the 25th and 50th anniversaries. The first 25 years were detailed by Robert Allen Ritsema and can be found here. In 1996, the 50th anniversary was detailed in four issues of the American String Teacher dedicated to the Golden Anniversary with submissions from many of the thought leaders of the time. Articles include the state of teaching for each of the orchestral string instruments including harp and guitar, as well as submissions on the state of public-school teaching and expanding access through ASTA’s urban outreach program. A veritable who’s who are represented in the leadership, awardees, and content providers, but also show how closely connected we are in the string teaching profession. Since its first issue in 1951, the American String Teacher has been one of the most valuable benefits of ASTA membership. In her February 1995 president’s message, Jacquelyn Dillon-Krass quoted Jay Decker as saying “You must be a member of ASTA if for no other reason than to get the magazine. It is to our profession what the AMA journal is to a doctor.” ASTA is creating more digital content now, but the AST journal is still one of the most valuable resources provided to our membership. Sign in on the ASTA homepage and to browse all available issues of the AST journal.

In the coming weeks and months, keep an eye out for more historical information and trivia as we celebrate our Diamond Anniversary.