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String Teacher Workshops


Hello, and welcome to our newly updated website! Whether you are a parent, a student, teacher, alumni, donor, prospective student, or just curious, there is much to find here. So please look around and explore.

Founded in 1990, the String Academy of Wisconsin (SAW) has become one of this country’s model schools, offering students between the ages of 4 and 18 a comprehensive musical education with a focus on the violin, viola or cello.    Highly qualified artist faculty provide musical instruction based on the methods  and philosophies of Mimi Zweig, Shinichi Suzuki, and Paul Rolland.  The special training, experience, and expertise of the SAW faculty in the musical training of young people results in students playing with technical ease and musical sensitivity. SAW’s summer teacher training workshops are attended by string players from across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Welcome to the String Academy of Wisconsin at UWM

2019 Violin Competition Winners

2019 Violin Competition

Jeremy Kimm

Air Varie No. 5 – C. Dancla
(performing at the Spring Group Concert on
Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 am in the PSOA Recital Hall)

Alexis Hu

Four Seasons “Spring” (1st mvt.) – A. Vivaldi
(performing at the Benefit Concert on 
Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 pm in the PSOA Recital Hall)

Congratulations to all contestants on their performance!

Thank you to former MSO violinist Les Kalkhof for judging the competition.

Also, thank you to pianist Steve Ayers for accompanying all eleven contestants.



The Season of Giving



December 2018

“Music has been an absolutely constant force in my life…the things I learned from violin have been a constant resource for me to draw on for the rest of my life. Thank you so much — my life would not be the same without String Academy.”

“I have so many great memories of my String Academy days! And I feel so grateful that I learned to play and truly love the violin at the String Academy.”

~ SAW Alumni Quotes

Dear Friend,

One of the most rewarding gifts teachers receive are heartfelt messages and success stories from former students. Music transforms lives in a multitude of ways. Scientists have found that music lessons profoundly transform a child’s cognitive abilities resulting in increased learning capacity, focus, empathy, and the ability to interact with others. Sadly, today fewer schools, especially in low-income areas, can offer this opportunity to students.

This year (our 29th), approximately 90 children ages 4-18, from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, study violin and viola at the String Academy of Wisconsin. SAW’s professional faculty carefully guide students in a challenging course of study that includes weekly private and group instruction, classes in music theory/ear training, and numerous solo and group performances. Our comprehensive curriculum encourages and develops teamwork, problem solving, and self-confidence that benefits students in their music studies and beyond. By educating the WHOLE child, SAW offers preparation for success in school and life!

The Academy strives to make an excellent music education possible for low-income families through our acclaimed Urban Students in Arts Outreach program which includes two primary strategies for providing high quality music education and instruments to USAO students.

  1. Scholarships and instruments to 25 students annually whose families could not otherwise afford music lessons. 
  2. Partnerships with Milwaukee Public Schools where a majority of students are from low-income homes. Our faculty is providing instruction to students with demonstrated potential and a strong desire to learn at Escuela Vieau, an MPS K-8 school. These students (along with other USAO recipients) also come to the Academy for weekly group instruction and performances. We were able to enroll more Vieau students this year, but children still remain on the waiting list of this popular program. Providing instruction, instruments, music is costly — a minimum of $2,500 per student.

These programs can only continue with contributions from foundations and generous individuals like you, who understand the profound importance of the arts in a child’s development. Thank you!

Will you make a gift today to help ensure that talented students in Milwaukee continue to grow
and develop through music education – no matter their financial circumstances?
Your gift of any amount matters and is greatly appreciated. It is instrumental to our success in educating the whole child.


Darcy Drexler, SAW Director

Julilly W. Kohler, SAW Board Chair

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The String Academy of Wisconsin

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Go With The Published Sheet Music


Sheet music for your studies can be acquired in different ways, ordering from the many online music outlets, purchasing from your local music store and downloading from the internet. A public domain internet library can give a student free immediate access to music, but let’s remember YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Too many times the downloaded parts have a lack of valuable information (articulations, bowings, fingerings) and wrong notes. Also one’s downloading, for quick access, many times turns into never purchasing the published music. After several weeks, you have a crinkled, torn copy of music that is difficult to keep on the music stand and information written by your teacher is becoming less clear. Another and better option is getting a photocopy from your teacher’s library, which has their fingerings and bowings, with the clear understanding that it is temporary.

Before you order or visit the local music store, ask your teacher which edition (ex. Bärenreiter, Boosey & Hawkes, Breitkopf & Hartel, Carl Fischer, G. Henle, International, C.F. Peters, G. Schirmer, Schott etc..) you should purchase. Published violin music is edited by violinists/teachers, for example Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Sonatas & Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin has been edited by some of the greatest violinists and teachers, Nathan Milstein, Leopold Auer, Henryk Szeryng and Ivan Galamian. Each edition offers different ideas, is a wealth of information and an investment in your continuing music education. Another important aspect of published sheet music, the piano accompaniment is included! A few examples, Mollenhauer’s Infant Paganini, Introduction and Polonaise by Bohm, Dancla’s Six Airs Variés, Polish Dance by Severn, Ten Have’s Allegro Brillante, Czardas by Monti, Haydn’s Concerto in G major, Concerto in A minor by Accolay, Viotti’s Concerto No. 23 in G major, Concerto in A minor by Bach, Wieniawski’s Obertass etc…, with the piano part you now have a better understanding of how the violin and piano work together, helping your learning process towards a more successful performance!

The next time you attend a solo recital or an orchestra concert that is featuring an international soloist, often there is a “Meet The Artist” after the performance. What a fun and inspiring opportunity to ask the soloist if he or she would autograph your published music. You might even be studying the same piece that was performed!  This will be something that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Click here to order sheet music online


Come and see the String Academy in action!


Violafest West, featuring SAW’s own Jamie Hofman!

We wish Jamie Hofman well in his adventures to the University of Wyoming, Laramie!


Off to a great start!

Some scenes from the String Academy as we kick off another exciting year:


Now Enrolling for Fall ’18!

The String Academy of Wisconsin is now enrolling new violin and viola students for the 2018 Fall Semester. Register here!


You’re Invited: Cassidy Franzmeier Senior Recital


2018 Scholarship Benefit Concert


Scholarship Benefit Concert

featuring String Academy Students
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall
Reception to follow
$30 per person • Please call for advance tickets
Phone (414) 963 4729