Island Strings celebrates 30 years of young musicians

Where ever Linda Good goes a little hum follows. It’s stringing, not ringing that the Island Strings owner hears. For the last 30 years she has helped teach and bring instructors to hundreds of South Whidbey’s youngest and most young-at-heart string players. This year marks an anniversary year for Island Strings, which began in 1974 simply as a partnership between strings instructors.

Good moved to Whidbey in 1967 and soon began teaching violin lessons using the Suzuki method. Shortly after, she united with fellow instructors Paula Pugh, Linda Morris and Phil Groening. Together, the network of teachers worked with other strings instructors to bring violin, cello, viola, piano and guitar lessons to the public schools of South Whidbey.

In 1974, Island Strings consisted of eight violin instructors teaching the Suzuki method.

The first cello workshop presented by Island Strings was taught in 1988 by guest instructor Maria DeRungs of Mukilteo. Freeland cellist and regular Island Strings instructor since 1993 — Siri Sobottka — will lead a Suzuki cello and viola workshop this Saturday. It is the first for the new year and the kick off workshop for the Island Strings anniversary year. Sobottka looks forward to Saturday with teaching enthusiasm.

“Last time there was players ages 4 to 40 and all abilities,” she said. “I love teaching in that environment where people can expand their horizons.”

The age range is typical for Island Strings that currently has students as young as 3 and students well past middle age.

“I have some pretty tiny violins,” Good said.

Island Strings alumni numbers reach into the hundreds, and some former students — including South Whidbey Intermediate instructor Kim Morris — have gone onto be instructors themselves. Good encourages any Island Strings alums to contact her, as she is attempting to create a strings networking database.

“It’s been great to follow some of my students for as long as I have,” Good said. “I love watching children’s progress, see the education for the parents as well and see the wonderful collaboration of it all.”

Island Strings looks host a number of events to mark its anniversary. This summer will be the sixth that South Whidbey Youth can attend the Island Strings camp.

“Linda Good and Island Strings are such fixtures in this community,” Sobottka said. “There’s more little string players per capita in this area than anywhere else.”

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