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WMU group for future music teachers wins national award

March 14, 2011

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KALAMAZOO--The student chapter of American String Teachers Association at Western Michigan University has won a prestigious national award from its parent organization.

The ASTA has given the local chapter the 2011 Most Outstanding Student Chapter award. The award will be presented at the National American String Teachers Association Convention March 16-19 in Kansas City, Mo.

"These students really deserve it for all of their efforts to keep music and string playing alive and well in schools and communities all over Michigan," says Bruce Uchimura, WMU professor of music and the group's faculty advisor.

Uchimura says the WMU chapter includes a good mix of students pursuing string education, music therapy, music performance and other majors, who share a love of music and string playing and understand the importance of sharing music and developing musical talent.

The group promotes educational activities that fit the theory that "music is for everyone," including concerts, demonstrations and visits by guest speakers open to all students. Uchimura says the group's most significant accomplishment has been to establish a community string program and orchestra in Gaylord, Mich., with the chapter starting a small community music school providing private lessons and a youth orchestra while presenting several fundraising concerts.

Photo of James Van Eizenga and Angelica Kalasz.Chapter co-presidents James Van Eizenga and Angelica Kalasz say receiving the award is a great honor and kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. Van Eizenga began building the chapter from the ground up three years ago. He had no funds, but was able to gain support from the student body and Uchimura.

"From then on, it was through the hard work and dedication of all the members that we were able to successfully support our community and others in string education," Kalasz says. "This award is a reassurance that if you really want something and are willing to put in the effort, you can achieve it. We also think it shows our string education program is alive and well at Western."

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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Western Michigan University
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