MASTA annually names an outstanding string educator in the state of Michigan as the String Teacher of the Year. This award is presented to a leading string teacher who has taught in the state for at least 10 years, demonstrated quality teaching and indicated educational achievement in areas other than performance and demonstrated service to string education in Michigan. The award is reserved for studio teachers in even numbered years and conductors or classroom teachers in odd numbered years. This years nominees continue the tradition of awarding the best in string teaching in Michigan.
Abigail Alwin is a cellist, educator and improviser. She studied cello with Erling Blondal Bengtsson and Tony Elliot at the University of Michigan (BMA ’92, MMEd ’08 University of Michigan) and has a rich career as an educator and performer. Ms. Alwin is recipient of the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award, being recognized for her innovative and exemplary pedagogy and curriculum as among the best in the United States. As Director of Orchestras at Clague Middle School in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Ms. Alwin’s orchestras have been honored to perform at the Michigan Music Conference in 2013, and their 10th Anniversary Opening Collage Concert in 2016. Her young orchestras have consistently earned division I ratings at District and State Orchestra Festival, and have received the highest praise for their precision, energy and musicianship. In addition, her students explore their creativity through frequent improvisation and composition projects.
Ms. Alwin is a sought after clinician and has presented at the Michigan Music Conference on topics ranging from teacher wellness, string pedagogy, and composing with young musicians. Abigail Alwin is deeply committed to helping all students have equal access to music education. She serves as leader of her school’s Equity team, and co-directs the AAPS Comprehensive Outreach Music Program in collaboration with the Community Music School of Ann Arbor, which connects private teachers with economically disadvantaged students. During the summer of 2012, Ms. Alwin was invited by Larry Dittmar to teach for the Meru Music Project, in Meru, Kenya, and continues to support their efforts. Her classroom is utilized to collaborate for teacher training at the University of Michigan, and she enjoys mentoring student teachers. In 2012, Ms. Alwin was invited as a panelist for the American Orchestras Summit, bringing together academics, arts administrators, and music union officials to discuss the future of the professional orchestra. As a cellist, Ms. Alwin collaborates with Detroit composers, focusing on improvisatory and contemporary idioms as well as the folk traditions of the Balkans.
In addition, Ms. Alwin is the Assistant Conductor of the Dexter (MI) Community Orchestra.
Carol Johnson teaches orchestra in Jenison Public Schools, and has been teaching young string players in Michigan for over seventeen years. During her tenure in Jenison, the JPS Orchestra Program has almost doubled in size, and now boasts over 550 string players each year. Carol earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education from Michigan State University, majoring on piano and violin. Carol has been recognized often for her large group string teaching methods at the elementary and junior high levels, and all three of her Junior High Orchestras consistently receive first division ratings at MSBOA Festivals. Over the last decade, she has also mentored over twenty student teachers from various colleges and universities.
Carol is highly sought-after as a conductor, clinician, teacher, and adjudicator at numerous schools, camps, and clinics around Michigan. She proudly serves as Music Director of the MASTA String Camps, having spent almost 20 summers on staff. Carol has directed many MSBOA Middle Level String Clinics, and was co-founder and director of the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Sinfonia Youth Orchestra. Carol is a frequent presenter at the Michigan Music Conference, and her 8th Grade Symphony Orchestra was the only middle school orchestra selected to perform at the conference in 2010. As a guest teacher, she has presented to string students at Michigan State University’s Early Careers Day, and to Grand Valley State University’s Strings Methods classes. Carol has served MASTA previously as newsletter editor, and she was also selected as the MSBOA District X Orchestra Teacher of the Year twice.
In addition to teaching, Carol spends a great deal of time performing, composing, and arranging. As a violinist, she has performed with the MSU Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, and for the last twelve years with the Signature String Quartet. Carol has always had a passion for creating new music for her students to perform, and in 2007 began publishing her educational works for young string orchestras through Alfred/Belwin Publications.
Carol resides in Hudsonville, MI, with her husband John, and two young sons, Alex and Devin.
Nathan Peters is an orchestra teacher in the Chelsea Schools, a position he has held since 1999. His middle school orchestras consistently receive superior ratings at festivals. In 2007, he conducted the Chelsea Beach Middle School 8th Grade Orchestra in an honorary performance at the Michigan Music Conference. He also assists with classes and conducting of the Chelsea High School Orchestras.
A strong advocate for chamber music performance, Peters was the coordinator for the annual MASTA Chamber Music Festival and Competition from 2011-2016. In 2000, he co-founded the Chelsea Chamber Players, a group with which he performs several chamber music concerts each year. Peters regularly contributes to string education in Michigan through several projects, including hosting the M.S.B.O.A. Mid-Level Fall String Clinic (since 2010), teaching violin, viola, and conducting at Blue Lake Music Camp (since 2012), and directing the Chelsea M.S. Fiddle Club and Summer Fiddle Camp. He taught violin and viola for three summers at the Superior String Alliance Camp in the Upper Peninsula and has mentored student teachers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Peters has been teaching violin and viola private lessons since 1991. His students receive high praise from judges and are awarded scholarships to many music camps and university music departments in and out of the state of Michigan. Many of his students have performed movements of major concertos with orchestras.
Peters received a certificate in music education from the University of Michigan in 1999. His primary teaching mentors were Donald Parrish, Dan Long, and Jed Fritzemeier. He also has received Suzuki Violin Teaching and Orff-Schulwerk Teaching certificates, as well as training in conducting at the University of Iowa and the University of Ohio and in fiddling from the Augusta Center of the Davis and Elkins College and the Brasstown Folk School. Peters studied violin performance with Paul Kantor at the University of Michigan, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1992, and viola performance with Yizhak Schotten at the University of Michigan, receiving a Master of Music degree in 1993. He performed as a fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival and the Roundtop Festival. Peters also has performed in many orchestras including the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Lansing Symphony, the Toledo Symphony, and the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra.
Nathan Peters lives in Chelsea, Michigan with his daughters, Talia and Lydia.