Bob Phillips

Bob Phillips

Bob Phillips (b.1953), author/composer, pedagogue, teacher trainer, and conductor, is renowned as an innovator in string education. He is an expert in the use of large group pedagogy and in the development of eclectic styles for strings. One of today’s leading educational authors and composers, his books and pieces are performed by thousands of string students each year. Bob has authored over 25 book series for use in the classroom including all six levels of the Sound Innovations series as well as the ground-breaking eclectic styles publications Fiddlers Philharmonic, Jazz Philharmonic, Rock Philharmonic, Mariachi Philharmonic, Latin Philharmonic, and Fiddle and Song. He has had over 200 works published for orchestras and bands and is an award-winning ASCAP composer. His works are regularly performed at the Midwest Clinic. His instructional DVDs, String Clinics to Go, have been used by thousands of teachers.

For 27 years in Saline, MI, Bob built a string program with over 700 students that was a national model of excellence in both classical and eclectic styles music. Bob’s groups have performed at national and state conferences. He founded the folk-fiddling ensemble, Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic, which under his direction, gained an international reputation annually performing more than 80 shows a year as well as playing at the White House multiple times and at The Midwest Clinic. He was an assistant music director and arranger for the professional string ensemble Barrage 8. Bob has conducted for a variety of youth symphonies, all-state and honors orchestras, and camps including the All-State Orchestra at Interlochen, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Orchestras, Oakland Youth Symphony, Georgia All-State, Kentucky All-State, South Carolina All-State, Michigan All-State, Tennessee All-State, California All-State, and the Queensland Honour Ensemble Program. He served as resident conductor and arranger for the Wintergrass Festival in Seattle for 12 years. Currently he is the Director of the Great Lakes Music Youth Academy. Bob’s students have been successful as string educators, as well as professional performers, in both classical and eclectic styles.

Bob has been elected Teacher of the Year nine times by national, state, and regional associations and has been invited to present clinics in more than 47 states and eight foreign countries, including 9 tours throughout Australia. He has served as president of the American String Teachers Association and Director of String Publications for Alfred Publishing. Bob and Pam were recognized as Citizens of the Year by the City of Saline for their work in arts education. They were also honored by both the House and the Senate of the State of Michigan for their contribution to the arts. In 2013 Bob was inducted into The University of Michigan School of Music Hall of Fame. In 2022 ASTA awarded Bob and Pam the Distinguished Service Award for their contributions to string education and The Midwest Clinic presented both Bob and Pam with the medal of Honor. Currently he performs with the Michigan Mandolin Orchestra, a bluegrass duo, the Bass Brothers, and a Celtic trio, the Langford Lads.

Clinic Offerings

Beginning Strings: The First Two Years are Critical

Learn ideas and tips for teaching technique, aural skills, musicianship, and reading to young players from a master of large group instruction. Also to be covered: pedagogy, classroom management, group process, and delivery skills. What are the factors of success that ensure your students will play well, be engaged and, most of all, continue in music?

Bowing Fluency: Developing String Orchestras that Play with Artistry

How to teach the skills they need! Students can play with artistry at every level by developing fluent bow strokes and the ability to intelligently play in all parts of the bow. Learning how to control tone and properly start and release notes in combination with bow choreography results in artistic playing. This is a must see for all band and choir teachers teaching strings.

Differentiation in the String Classroom

Learn and discuss how to address the needs of all students at every level. Using the same lesson plan, aimed at the same techniques, customize the delivery for students who need more challenge and those who need additional time. Special emphasis will be given to the early years of instruction.

Fiddling, Jazz, Rock, and Beyond

The use of fiddle, jazz, rock, and improvisation, as well as other styles of music in the string classroom, is a great way to create excitement while developing right and left-hand technique. Explore how to use these styles effectively even if you are not an expert and how to include strategies for creative music making.

Staying on Fire without Burning Out

The highs and lows that make up a successful career in teaching: Create balance in your life. Avoid the pitfalls of burnout. Know the signs of burnout. And best of all, the solutions to burn out!

Strategies for Introducing and Developing Shifting

Teaching shifting, vibrato, and scales has never been easier. Specific strategies are presented for teaching students to shift with ease throughout the range of the instrument from early instruction to advanced.

Strategies for Teaching Creativity and Improvisation in the String Orchestra

Teaching students to be creative in the string orchestra setting can be easy, fun, and meet standards. Strategies that can be used at all levels to develop response to music, composition skills, and improvisation using many genres of music will be demonstrated. Start using these concepts immediately!

Successful Recruiting and Retention by Design

Unlock the secrets of success for recruiting and motivating students that result in high retention rates and large programs. Who, what, why, where, when and how for all levels. Applicable to band, orchestra and choir.

Teaching Intonation Creatively in the String Orchestra

A demonstration of very specific strategies to refine intonation in string orchestra or private studio settings. Participants may be used as a lab orchestra to demonstrate techniques, games, and exercises if they have access to instruments.

Teaching Rhythm: How Do I Count It and When Do I Play It?

Creative solutions to teaching rhythm, super-charging your delivery, and energizing your students’ rhythmic understanding and performance. Free flashcard materials will be available.

The Basses Rock – Secrets for Creating a Great Bass Section

What makes the basses different? The secrets of the bass unveiled for orchestra teachers. How to feed and care for your bass section in a way that develops technical skills equal to the upper strings

The Total Tone Transformation

Totally transform the sound of your orchestra on Monday. Easy strategies to create an exciting sounding orchestra at every level. Improve your retention by giving students the tools to create better sounds and more expressive playing. This is also a must-see session for band and choir teachers teaching orchestra.


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