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History of MNSOTA

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

In the spring of 1998, the Board of Directors of both MNASTA and MNSOA began working together to unify the organization at the state level. By the fall of 1998, the newly unified organization, MNSOTA, was up and running, ready to offer all events and services of the former organizations.

In February 2007, MNSOTA became a nonprofit corporation in the state of Minnesota. New Bylaws were adopted in the fall of 2007, and were ratified by membership vote in the spring of 2008.

MNSOTA has received the 'Best Newsletter' award from ASTA seven consecutive times: 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. In 2006, MNSOTA received the national 'Best State Chapter' award.


The Minnesota chapter of the American String Teachers Association was founded in 1951 following a string clinic held at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. Thirty-Six members formed the charter group. Officers were president James E. Smith (UMD), vice-president Beatrix Lien (St. Olaf College), secretary Harry Nordstrom (Carleton College), and treasurer Lloyd Swartley (Duluth public schools).

Arnie Krueger recalls leaders from the '50s included Dick Guy, Ted Brunson, and John Bach, all from Rochester, and Howard Van Sickel from Mankato. Dick Sieber, who worked at the University of Minnesota and then directed MacPhail Center, was active in the '60s and '70s. When Arnie Krueger became president, his mission was to involve more symphony players in the organization, and so Jim Clute and Clifton Jackson both became president. Clifton Jackson recalls that Dick Sieber was an inspiration and helped make it a pleasure to be president.

Four Minnesotans have served national ASTA. Howard Van Sickel became editor of the American String Journal in 1960, was national president from 1966-1968 and served again as vice president from 1970-1972. Paul Askegaard was ASJ editor from 1966-1968. Dick Sieber was national president from 1974-1976. Kirk Moss was national president from 2010-2012.


The Minnesota chapter of the National School Orchestra Association was founded officially in 1993, chartered at the Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic through the work of: Elizabeth Deger (Stillwater), Gwen Armwood (Wayzata), Andrea Olijnek (Hastings), Lynne Bulger (West St. Paul), Jean Liss (Bloomington), Susan Scott (Roseville), Joe Mish (Pine Island), Barb Flooding (St. Cloud), and Anne Marie Person (St. Paul).

MNSOA's beginnings revolved around the idea of getting school orchestra teachers together to share ideas and to offer more opportunities for middle school string students. The Fall String Camp, New Music Reading Clinic, and All-State Teachers Workshop began immediately. The Middle Level Orchestra Festival evolved from a three-orchestra event, held first in Stillwater in 1989.


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