Sophie Till, Past Board Chair
Sophie Till, is Associate Professor of Violin/Viola at Marywood University, PA, Director of the Marywood String Project and Associate Faculty at the Golandsky Institute, NY. Under Sophie’s direction, the Marywood String Project has grown to serve 150 children ages 4 -18. In addition to the main Marywood site, the program has expanded to include two satellite programs in local schools. Since 2015 she has visited Scotland regularly giving workshops, presentations and lessons for members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and BBC Scottish Orchestra. In 2016, she made her first visit to teach members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra which led to an extended visit of lessons and workshops and an invitation to become the orchestra’s string specialist in 2017. Sophie is an active performer, giving recitals, playing concertos and chamber music in the U.S, and internationally. She completed her undergraduate studies with Zakhar Bron at the Royal Academy of Music and in Lübeck, Germany and her graduate studies with Charles Treger at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since 2007 she has worked regularly with Edna Golandsky.
Dr. Molly Wilkens-Reed, Board Member
Molly Wilkens-Reed is instructor of viola and director of the Virginia Tech String Project at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. As faculty at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, she spends her summers in beautiful northern Michigan striving to inspire love of instrumental music through an explorative learning design. Past teaching engagements include faculty positions at the Peabody Preparatory, Baltimore School for the Arts, the Bryn Mawr Music School, and the Memphis Suzuki Summer Institute. She has performed with orchestras in Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, and Arkansas.
Wilkens-Reed was awarded the Dean’s Incentive Grant from the Peabody Institute for her project to commission a new work for intermediate level string quartet, tackling an ever-present need for pedagogically appropriate repertoire for young string players. She was also awarded the Israel Dorman Memorial Award in Strings from Peabody and a Peabody Institute Career Grant. Under her leadership, the CNAFME chapter of the University of Memphis won the 2015 TMEA Outstanding Chapter Award for the state of Tennessee. She was awarded the 2008 “Vision Award” by Memphis Women Magazine and named an Outstanding Young Woman of Memphis. Wilkens-Reed is a member of the Epsilon Omicron Chapter of the Pi Kappa Lambda Society, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the American String Teachers Association, and the American Viola Society. She serves as a board member of the National String Project Consortium and on the American Viola Society’s Youth Advisory Council.
Wilkens-Reed earned Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Viola Performance from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, and a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance with a concentration in String Pedagogy at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Her primary teachers include Lenny Schranze, Victoria Chiang, and Rebecca Henry. Wilkens-Reed is certified in the Suzuki Violin Method through book 6, studying with teacher trainers Marilyn O’Boyle and Judy Bossuat-Gallic.
Dr. Blair Williams, Board Member
Dr. Blair Williams (PhD, The Ohio State University, MM, Kansas State University, BME, Baylor University) is an Assistant Professor of String Music Education in the School of Music at Texas Tech University. Her duties at Texas Tech include supervising string student teachers, teaching courses in string music education, instruction in instrumental/orchestral conducting, and directing the Texas Tech University String Project. Additionally, she serves on the editorial board for American String Teacher, on the National String Project Consortium Board, on the ASTA Collegiate Committee, as a Member-at-Large for NAfME-Texas, as the TMEA Region 16 College Chair, and as an advisor to the Epsilon Pi chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon and the TTU Student Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.
Dr. Williams has presented clinics regionally and nationally including invited sessions at the National Association for Music Education National In-Service Conference, the annual American String Teachers Association conference, the Ohio State String Teacher Workshop, Texas Music Educators Association, and Colorado Music Educators Association. Her research interests include: rural string music education, music teacher education, secondary music teaching, and viola. She has been published in The American String Teacher and SmartMusic.
James Przygocki, Board Member
James Przygocki is Professor of Music at the University of Wyoming where he teaches viola, violin and music education courses and conducts the UW Chamber Orchestra. In addition to his work with university students, Mr. Przygocki teaches pre-college viola and violin students for the String Academy of Wyoming and is the director of the UW String Project, a nationally recognized teacher-training program with an enrollment of 130 students and a faculty of 15 UW music students. Mr. Przygocki also serves on the faculty of the Indiana University Summer String Academy and the Indiana University Teachers’ Retreat. He has taught pre-college, youth orchestra and public school programs in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Mr. Przygocki is active as a performer, conductor, and clinician. He performs regularly with University of Wyoming faculty as a member of the Summit Chamber Players and serves as principal violist with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. He has performed and taught in Europe, China, Brazil and around the U.S. and has recorded for CRI, Indiana University Press and for the International Draeseke Society on the AK/Coburg label. His viola transcriptions have been published by One World Strings.
In addition to teaching and performing, Mr. Przygocki has been an active member of the American String Teachers Association, ASTA-WY, the Music Teachers National Association, the Rocky Mountain Viola Society, the Wyoming Music Educators Association, the National String Project Consortium, and the National Association for Music Education. Mr. Przygocki holds a B.M.Ed. from Western Michigan University and an M.M. from Indiana University.
Mt Pleasant and North Charleston, SC
Dijana Ihas, Board Member & ASTA Liason
Dijana Ihas is an Associate Professor of Music Education at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education, as well as directs/, conducts Pacific Philharmonic Orchestra. She also serves as an applied viola instructor and supervises student-teachers. Dr. Ihas is a Founding Director and Master Teacher of the Pacific University String Project which is the first program of its kind in the state of Oregon and was awarded the Outstanding String Project Award 2018 by NSPC & ASTA. Prior to her position at Pacific University, Dr. Ihas taught elementary, middle, and high school strings, orchestra, and general music for seven years in Salem, OR. Dr. Ihas’ educational background includes PhD in Music Education from the University of Oregon, Master's Degree of Music Education from the University of Arizona, Master's of Fine Arts in Viola Performance from the University of California in Irvine, and Bachelor's Degree in Viola Performance from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Currently, Dr. Ihas is in the sixth year of service as Oregon Music Educators Association Orchestra Chair and she also serves as OR ASTA Chapter president. She is a regular presenter at state and regional conferences as well as at ASTA National Conferences. Dr. Ihas has received numerous awards including Pacific University’s Junior Faculty Award (2015) for her dedication to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service and Pacific University’s Faculty Achievement Award (2018) for her dedicated work with Pacific University’s music department and String Project.
Kristen Pfeifer Yu
William Harris Lee, Inc
Fine String Instruments
The National String Project Consortium Board is comprised of members from across the United States. Many members serve as faculty at universities/colleges and are associated with a String Project site. The board is also fortunate to have members from the music industry as well.
Dr. Noah Rogoff, Secretary/Treasurer
Dr. Rogoff is the chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he also directs the UNK String Project and Music Business program. He is the cellist of the Frahm-Lewis Trio, the endowed faculty piano trio at UNK, which has performed educational outreach for the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Noah holds degrees in cello performance from Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Music at Cambridge University for the 2017-18 academic year and was elected an Artist Fellow of Churchill College, where he performed a solo recital for the benefactors of the college.
Noah was the recipient of a Judd Fellowship to study the works of Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna and has presented on the music of Isang Yun at Ehwa Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. He performed the complete solo cello music of Elliott Carter in the presence of the composer at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Center. He served as assistant principal cellist of the Camerata Fukuda in São Paulo, Brazil and has performed on many occasions with the Minnesota Orchestra. Noah has studied with members of the Pacifica, Shanghai and Juilliard Quartets and performed solo in the master classes of Paul Katz and Steven Isserlis. As the cellist of the five-member Trans-Nebraska Players, he has performed in the Canadian National Flute Conference, the Malibu Coast Music Festival (California), and Murray Edwards College (Cambridge, UK).
Elizabeth A. Reed, Executive Director
Elizabeth Reed is the Executive Director of the National String Project Consortium and currently teaches in Fairfax County, VA. Dr. Reed received her Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of South Carolina. While there she was the Assistant Director of the U of SC String Project and also taught Music Appreciation. Dr. Reed has taught middle and high school Orchestra in Virginia and South Carolina for over 15 years. During the fall of 2018, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Florida State University. Other degrees include a Master of Music in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music (2004) and a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a Performance Certificate in cello from the University of South Carolina (2001). Dr. Reed conducts All-State and Honor Orchestras across the North and Southeast. She also adjudicates orchestra assessments across the country. As a cellist, Dr. Reed continues to perform in chamber music ensembles.
Christine Russell, Program Evaluator
University of Akron.
Staff, Board, Affiliates, and Artist Advocates.
Adriana La Rosa Ransom, Board Member
Adriana La Rosa Ransom is Associate Professor of Cello and Director of String Project and the Community School for the Arts at Illinois State University. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the University of Missouri, where she studied with Nina Gordon. She earned Master and Doctorate degrees in performance from the University of Minnesota, studying cello with Tanya Remenikova and chamber music with Jorja Fleezanis. As a soloist, Ms. Ransom has recently appeared with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois State Wind Symphony, and the Illinois State Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared as a guest artist on notable solo and chamber music recital series, including the Peoria Bach Festival, Chicago Cello Society concerts, the Trinity Lutheran Candlelight Concert Series, and at universities throughout the Midwest. Currently Principal Cellist of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, she formerly was a member of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, the St. Cloud Symphony, the European Musical Festival Orchestra, and Sinfonia da Camera. Ms. Ransom has served on the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Cloud State University, the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, and the Grumo (Italy) Music Festival. She is the recipient of the College of Fine Arts Outstanding Teacher Award, the College of Fine Arts Outstanding Service Award, and the Illinois American String Teachers Association Distinguished Service Award. She is an invited presenter at the American String Teacher National Conference, covering topics such as David Popper’s character pieces, supplementary etudes for intermediate level cello concertos, and the use of visual color as a means towards musical expression.
National String Project Consortium Board
Eugene (Gene) Dowdy, Board Member
Eugene (Gene) Dowdy is professor of music and Director of Orchestral Studies at UTSA where he conducts the UTSA Orchestra and Opera, teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting, and is the founding director of the UTSA String Project. For seven years he served as the music department chair at UTSA. He is also the conductor and artistic director of the Symphony of the Hills in Kerrville, Texas.
Professor Dowdy earned music degrees from UT Austin, UTSA, and the University of Iowa. He has taught award-winning school orchestras, and was on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp. He serves in an honorary capacity as Resident Conductor of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. Dowdy served three years as executive director of the National String Project Consortium, and is a past president of both the Texas Orchestra Directors Association and the Texas Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. He is an active guest conductor, having appeared with orchestras and festivals all over the United States, Mexico, France, and Italy. Stacy and Gene have two daughters, Jessica a piano-playing pastry chef, and Rachel a cellist and school orchestra director.