Interview with Bob Phillips, Lead Author of SI for String Orchestra

We had a wonderful chat with Bob Phillips, lead author of SI for String Orchestra! In addition to his role as the Director of String Publications for Alfred Music Publishing, Bob is also President-elect of the American String Teachers Association and he maintains a busy schedule presenting clinics throughout the nation and around the world, so we are incredibly appreciative of the time he took to share his thoughts with us:

If you had to pick one (of the many) revolutionary features and concepts within SI as THE most impact for both educators students what would it be? 

Sound Innovations has many powerful features for teachers and students. The feature that I most wish had been available when I was teaching is the ability for teachers to customize the pedagogy as well as change and add content. This is groundbreaking. When teachers can alter the materials so they fit the way they teach and what they think, then everyone wins. Students will have success when teachers can create materials that fit students’ needs. Teachers are in the best position to evaluate what will motivate and meet the goals they have set for them. Each year there will be more and more material that can be added so that the method is always current and reflects current ideas and trends in music education.

Any tie-ins between your affinity for fiddle and alternative strings and Sound Innovations? If not, maybe a plan for a Fiddler Innovations series someday?

I have always been an out-of-the-box thinker and embraced new ideas, so from that standpoint, they are connected. Who knows what will come from this fabulous technology in the future. We have a huge wish list of ideas that we would love to be able to implement today but it all takes time to write and do correctly.

Will you tell us a little about your experience as a teacher and how it helped determine what goes into Sound Innovations?

I was an instrumental teacher in the public schools for 28 years.  I taught grades 4-12 and worked with beginning students the entire time. During my teaching career I used a variety of books and rewrote or revised my elementary curriculum every summer. In addition, I team-taught with a great group of string and band teachers. These two experiences taught me that there were many teaching styles and materials that could work. After many years of doing clinics throughout the country and visiting many classrooms, I was convinced that there was a need for teaching materials that gave teachers some control over the pedagogical choices that were presented. At that point we asked several thousand teachers around the country to tell us what they wanted in a method book.  We then took that information and designed Sound Innovations. After Book 1 was written we sent them out to a number of teachers for review. We then did a lot of rewriting to make sure the materials reflected the kinds of choices that teachers from every region wanted.

What was the most memorable part of your work with the Sound Innovations co-authors team? 

The Sound Innovations team is an incredible group of people with over 130 years of combined experience in music education. Everyone brought a lifetime of experiences with teachers from all over the world to the writing table. It was an enormous amount of knowledge and a variety of viewpoints that were represented. The exciting part for all of us was to create a method book that works for everyone and can change and evolve with teachers.

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