Spring String Thing 2018 Information

Why should I attend Spring String Thing?

  • Three days of great music with an incredible guest conductor
  • Fun activities such as a dance, movie theater, scavenger hunt, and the Ice Cream Social
  • Six different orchestras so you’re placed in the right level for you
  • 500 teenage musicians so you’ll meet lots of new friends
  • 60 professional musicians to help you throughout the weekend

I went to SST last year.  What’s new for 2018?

JMU graduate and world-renowned composer Brian Balmages will join us as composer in residence for 2018.  For more information, visit https://www.brianbalmages.com/

We are also excited to announce our first-ever Cello Ensemble!  If you are a cellist, you can explore new repertoire written just for your instrument.  This innovative group will be lead by Gerald Fowkes, Director of the Fairfax High School Orchestra and the McLean Youth Orchestra.  If you’d enjoy this wonderful opportunity, click a preference for “Cello Ensemble” during registration.

We will also be using the Forbes Center for the final concerts.  Our traditional performance space, Wilson Hall, is receiving extensive renovations until 2020.  

A final note is that our Check-In will begin at 11 a.m. this year.  We hope this gives our families who live hours away a little more travel flexibility.

Other than that, we’re still the same Spring String Thing that has nurtured string players for forty years!

Registration, Check-In & Audition

How do I register?
Click the online registration.  A parent/guardian completes the questions and electronically signs.  You will receive a confirmation page with your responses.  Print it for your records.

You will also be asked to pay electronically at the end of registration.  You can pay the full $230 or make two separate payments of $115 and $115.  The second payment must be completed by May 1.  Your credit card charge will appear as "JMU E-Market."  

What if I made a mistake and need to change information on my registration?
If it is a minor change, you can let us know at Friday check-in.  If it is a major change, such as instrument, name, or residence hall, please email us immediately. 

What if I can’t pay electronically?
Electronic payment is preferred since it instantly guarantees your spot.  If you have difficulty, please email us immediately. 

Where do we park on Friday?
Use the Warsaw Parking Deck which is a four minute walk to the Music Building.  You do not need a JMU parking pass for the Warsaw Deck. 

If you are registering first (last names A-K), bring all of your belongings.  If you are auditioning first (last names L-Z), you may want to bring just your instrument and leave your luggage in the car.  If you have a large instrument, you can drop-it-off at the circle in front of the Music Building. 

What is Check-In?
At check-in, you will receive your key, meal card, name tag, and t-shirt.  We will also check your registration information for any changes.  Check-In will be inside the Music Building, room 108.

Why is there a 11 a.m. Check-In and a 12:30 Check-In? 
We have 500 students so staggering check-in gives families time for individual attention.  At 11 a.m., last names A - K, will check-in. Starting at 12:30 p.m., last names L-Z can check-in.  We appreciate your patience so everyone gets the best service.

Why do I need to audition?
The audition helps find the orchestra that is right for you.  You may be placed in an orchestra that seems “too difficult” with challenging pitches and rhythms.  However, you may be placed in an orchestra that “seems easy,” but you can improve on techniques like vibrato and articulations.  We believe that all of our orchestras are excellent learning opportunities.

What do I need to do for the audition?
You only need to perform one scale (your choice of rhythm and bowing) and a brief sight reading.  You do NOT need to prepare a specific song.  Since this is a sight reading weekend, this type of audition helps determine the best ensemble for you.

Violin - G scale (you choose 2 or 3 octave) and sightreading
Viola and Cello - C scale (you choose 2 or 3 octave) and sightreading
Bass - G scale (you choose 1 or 2 octave) and sightreading

On rare occasions, the judges may ask you to perform in a second room with another set of judges.  Don’t worry: that means they want more people to hear your great music!

What if my audition doesn’t go well?
Remember, no one has a “perfect” audition.  Everyone - even professionals - wish they could play an audition better.  To gain an accurate sense of each student’s accomplishments, students may audition only once for a judge.  There are no “re-auditions.”

How will I know where my audition room is?
There will be signs throughout the music building which list the audition rooms.  The first letter/digit tells you the floor you need:

B = basement              1 = 1st floor (ground level)                 2 = 2nd floor               3 = 3rd floor

There is an elevator and stairwell by the Main Street entrance.  A second stairwell is in the middle of the building and a third stairwell is near Alumnae Drive.

Can I borrow a JMU instrument?
People perform best on the instrument they use every day.  Please bring your own instrument to Spring String Thing.  If you need to rent a bass for the weekend, please contact:

Megan Tiller, owner of Tiller Strings
Phone: 540-588-0332


What clothing should I bring?
Bring clothing and bedding for a variety of weather.  Mid-May in the Shenandoah Valley has been as cold as 33 degrees and as warm as 93 degrees!

  • Casual, school-appropriate clothing for two days

  • Warm jacket/rain jacket and umbrella

  • Pajamas

  • Walking shoes

  • Concert uniform and concert shoes

What else should I pack?
Dorms are not hotels.  Dorm rooms carry only basic items such as a bed with mattress, desk, chair, and toilet paper.  Make sure you pack:

  • Bedding: pillow, extra long sheet set, and blanket

  • Towel set

  • Hair dryer

  • Personal hygiene (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste)

  • Medicine/supplies for three days

  • Cell phone/alarm clock

  • Spare change for vending machines/laundry

  • A lanyard for your keys and meal card

  • Instrument, portable music stand, rosin, extra strings, rock stop/shoulder rest, water-repellant case

What should I NOT bring? 

  1. Non-essential medicine or medicine for more than three days

  2. Expensive items such as electronics, jewelry, or designer clothing.

  3. Anything that endangers safety.  This includes, but is not limited to: alcohol, drugs, tobacco, incendiary items, or weapons.

For other items that are prohibited, review JMU’s guide: “What to Leave Behind.”


What if I forget to bring something?
Everyone forgets to pack something.  Some items you can borrow from your roommate such as toothpaste, shampoo, etc.  Some things you shouldn’t share such as toothbrush, deodorant, medicine, etc.  Tell your counselor and we will do our best to help.

What else do I need to prepare?
Make sure your instrument and supplies are in good shape.  Do you need to replace your strings or have your bow rehaired?  Do you need a better rock stop or shoulder rest?  Is your case waterproof?  If you have a bass, we recommend a case with wheels.

You should also begin to practice for longer periods of time.  Most players are not accustomed to a three-hour rehearsal!

Student Life

Can I choose a roommate?
You can request a roommate during online registration.  This person must also request you so double-check your spelling.  Please understand that while every effort will be made to place matching requests, there is no guarantee.  A new roommate may become a great new friend!

Can students stay off-campus?  Can I do part of the weekend?
Students are required to stay on-campus and participate for all of Spring String Thing (Friday, 3 p.m. through the Sunday concert). If you are unable to participate for the full event, please email us to withdraw and allow another child this great opportunity.

Where can parents/guardians/teachers stay?
Harrisonburg has a wide variety of motels and bed & breakfasts to suit every preference. 


Likewise, our beautiful Shenandoah Valley is full of diverse activities.  We hope you will explore all the Valley has to offer while your child is busy making music and friends!

Where will my dorm be?
In early May, JMU will confirm which dorms are available.  Most of the dorms are in the Bluestone Area which is a quick walk from Forbes and the Music Building.  In some years, we have Hillside dorms which are closer to the dining hall known as D-Hub.

What if I lose my key or meal card?
Room keys and meal cards cost $20 each to be replaced so keep them with you at all times.  A lanyard works best.

If you are missing a key or card, tell a counselor so we can help you search.  Meanwhile, we’ll make sure you get your meal or into your room.

What meals are included?
Spring String Thing provides five meals: Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and Sunday brunch.  We also offer a Friday night ice cream social and a Saturday night social with snacks and drinks.

For Friday lunch, bring either a bag lunch or plan to dine off-campus with your parent/guardian.  We also recommend bringing a Sunday breakfast snack since your brunch may not be until 11 a.m.  Vending machines are available in the residence halls, but may be empty by Sunday morning!    

What if I have severe food allergies?
JMU accommodates all students! If you have a food allergy or intolerance, your first step is to self-identify and meet with our JMU Dining Health and Wellness Manager, Hannah Jehring R.D.N. Hannah will work with you personally on a customized meal plan that fits your medical needs. She can be reached by phone at 540.568.5731 or via email at jehrinhm@jmu.edu. Also, please review our Guide to Managing Food Allergies to learn more on how to manage food allergies and intolerances. The allergen guide explains how to avoid cross-contact in the dining halls, provides a list of resources to help manage food allergy(ies), and outlines JMU Dining’s commitment to help students with special dietary needs.

What if I become ill or injured?
We have multiple staff members with their first aid licensure and/or are first responders at their schools.  In the event of minor illness or injury, we will attempt to speak with the parent/guardian/emergency contact for preferences of treatment.  If a major illness or injury occurs, we will contact the JMU Police who will initiate emergency protocols.  Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital is just three miles from JMU. 

What if there’s a family emergency and I have to leave suddenly?
Each year, we have a student who has a sudden family emergency.  Please contact JMU Police 540-568-6912 who will contact our administration.  A staff member can help you pack, get your instrument, and sign-you-out with your parent/guardian.


Can I go anywhere on campus at anytime?
No.  Student safety is our top priority. Much like a public school, this means you can only go to approved locations at assigned times.  Check your schedule and listen to counselor announcements so you are in the right place, at the right time. 

Staff members will be in these assigned locations.  Attendance is also taken at every rehearsal and dorm meeting/lights-out. 

We also ask you to walk in groups of  three or larger during social times.  This is helpful if a friend becomes ill or injured. 

Why do I have to stay in my dorm from 11 p.m. until 7:45 a.m.?
Intense rehearsals demand a lot from your mind and body.  To refuel, you need sleep and rest.  Remember, you aren’t the only one who needs to rejuvenate: your roommates, neighbors, and counselors do, too. 

Can I have visitors?
No.  Student safety is our top priority.  Much like a public school, this means SST may restrict or monitor access to students in our care.  For example, we may ask a parent/guardian/teacher to show photo identification or be escorted while on our campus.  Thank you for helping everyone to feel safe. 

What do I need to know about rehearsals?
We have a lot of music to learn in a short amount of time.  We will give you our best to help you achieve that.  In return, we expect your best.

Cell phones must be left in your case and turned OFF.  Cell phones or other electronics are not permitted in the rehearsal area. 

What if I make a mistake?
Everyone makes small mistakes such as being tardy once or forgetting their manners.  A faculty or staff member will discuss the situation and what needs to improve.  We know you’ll do your best and it won’t happen again. 

What happens if a student doesn’t obey the rules or endangers safety?
That’s incredibly rare at SST: we’re all here to help one another have a positive experience.

If a student disobeys rules or endangers safety, the parent/guardian/emergency contact will be asked to pick-up the student immediately.  No refund would be given.  Further consequences might occur as deemed by law enforcement.

Concert and Check-Out

What is the concert uniform? 
Please wear your school’s concert clothing.  In general, this is either all black, black and white, or your school uniform.  Dress clothing covers from the collarbone to the knees.  The following would be unprofessional: sleeveless shirts, transparent or ripped clothing, shorts, jeans, and flip-flops.

Where does my family park on Sunday?
Use the Warsaw Parking Deck which is connected to the Forbes center. You do not need a JMU parking pass for the Warsaw Parking Deck. If someone has large instrument (basses) and mobility challenges, s/he can contact sst@jmu.edu for assistance.  

Please note that JMU Police strictly enforce parking rules.  Do not park in fire lanes and only use handicapped locations if you have a clearly displayed handicap permit.

When and what is Check-Out?
Check-Out will take place on Sunday between noon and 3 p.m.  You will need to:

  1. Pack all of your luggage and remove it from the room.

  2. Collect all trash and take it to the dumpster in the basement. 

  3. A staff member will inspect your room and collect your key.

JMU may bill you if your room is damaged or contains trash.

What if my parent/guardian can’t meet me until the final orchestra has performed?
Move your luggage to the far side of the dorm lounge (away from any doors).  This space may be locked and unavailable until after all orchestras have finished performing.  

Will there be a recording of the performance?
Students will receive a private link so that they can reflect on their experience.  

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