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Where the most Inspired Musicians
become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

Late Spring 2024 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Beginner Strings, Retention, and Community in the Orchestra


March 25-May 3, 2024

Course Code



2 Graduate Credits


$750 is due in full with registration. A $15 Early Bird Discount will be applied until January 14.


Join Dr. Davila-Cortes in a six-week course to discuss strategies in the following topics: 
  • Beginner instructional strategies (bow hold, setting the left hand)
  • Shoulder Rest and Chin Rest Styles and Fitting
  • Technique focused classes (tone production, bow techniques, shifting, vibrato, intonation)
  • Recruitment and Retention; Building Community in the Orchestra Classroom specifically
  • Social Emotional Learning specifically in the Orchestra classroom.

Discussions will include strategies for both beginner and experienced orchestra teachers.  


Chat Session

Chat sessions via Zoom will be Thursday at 6p.m.-7p.m. CST for six weeks.


Required: Need a violin for class.

Required Text(s)

Required: Need a violin for class.


Supplemental Text:

  • Dick, W. J., & Scott, L. P. (2004). Mastery for Strings: A Longitudinal Sequence of Instruction for School Orchestras, Studio Lessons, and College Method Classes. Austin, TX: Mastery for Strings Press.
  • Allen, M. L. (2003). A pedagogical model for beginning string class instruction: Revisited. In D. Littrell (Ed.), Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra (Vol. 2, pp. 4–13). Chicago, IL: GIA.
  • Brenner, B. (2010). Reflecting on the rationales for string study in schools. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 18(1), 45–64. doi:10.2979/pme.2010.18.1.45
  • Hamann, D. & Gillespie, R. (2018). Strategies for teaching strings: Building a successful string and orchestra program (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Hendricks, K. S. (2011). The philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki: “Music education as love education.” Philosophy of Music Education Review, 19(2), 136–154. doi:10.2979/philmusieducrevi.19.2.136


Learning Platform Information (Online Courses Only)

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

The evening  before your class begins, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. 

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

More information about Schoology can be found at

Please see specific software/hardware requirements in the course description.

Online course grades are available within two weeks of the course(s) completion.  If you need a transcript, please CLICK HERE to access the online transcript request form. For a faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


Yvonne Davila-Cortes

Yvonne Davila-Cortes

Assistant Professor, Orchestra
Director of String Music Education

Yvonne Davila-Cortes is originally from Chicago and began Suzuki violin at the age of five. She attended DePaul University and received her B.M. in Music Business and Violin Performance under Joseph Genualdi. During that time, she had the opportunity to substitute with the Chicago Civic Orchestra. She received her M.M. in Violin Performance at UW-Madison under Vartan Manoogian. Dr. Davila-Cortes has appeared as a soloist at the AIMS Music Festival in Solsona, Spain and at the Rural Musicians Forum in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Dr. Davila-Cortes was a member of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and a substitute with The Madison Symphony Orchestra. She served as an Adjunct Instructor at Ripon College, conducted an elementary string orchestra in McFarland, Wisconsin and established Suzuki violin studios in both Madison and Spring Green, Wisconsin. Dr. Davila-Cortes moved to Texas to pursue her Teaching Certification and Doctorate in Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin.  During her time in Texas, Dr. Davila-Cortes was Orchestra Director of a middle school in Round Rock ISD. She was also the Director of the Austin Youth Concertante Orchestra. She maintained a private Suzuki studio and served on the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin String Project, for which she has served as Preschool Coordinator and Assistant Director.  Dr. Davila-Cortes’ research interests focus on children’s musical development, parent education, and children’s musical achievement.  Dr. Davila-Cortes has presented her research at the Suzuki of the Americas Association, American String Teachers and Texas Music Educators Association conferences.


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The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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