Professional Development Initiative

The Society's Teacher Development Committee puts on the Professional Development Initiative approximately every other year. The PDI is a weekend retreat for our self-identified Teaching Members aimed at broadening our horizons, strengthening our connections with each other across the country, and helping us gain new perspectives on our work. PDI tuition and travel is subsidized by the Society to make it accessible to as many members as possible.


The PDI has been a valuable cross-generational opportunity for viol player/teachers, providing input and inspiration for those starting their careers and a source of refreshment and an opportunity to share “best practices” for more experienced players. The Society recognizes that this investment in connections between viol professionals is important for the future of the VdGSA.


In 2016 in Massachusetts, in 2018 in Greater Chicago, and in 2020 in Loma Mar California, viol players gathered to participate in exciting presentations, to play consorts, and to share ideas about our lives as teacher/performers, both in the viola da gamba world and in the broader musical community. For this “hands on” weekend, participants will either bring their own instruments or borrow viols to be provided by generous local players.

For more information about upcoming PDIs, please contact Jane Hershey, Chairperson of the Teacher Development Committee.

Past Professional Development Initiatives

February - March 2020: Redwood Glen, Loma Mar, California

Presenters & Topics:

  • Sarah Cunningham: "An exploration of the fascinating 18th century markings on a copy of Marais's Book 2 held at the Sibley Library in Rochester, NY"

  • Tina Chancey: "Improvisation Made Possible"

  • Brady Lanier: "Vibrato:  a historical exploration, and a method for instruction"

  • Martha McGaughey: "Streamlining Marais for Lower-level Players"

April 2018: St. Mary’s Retreat House, Lemont, Illinois

Presenters & Topics:

  • Wendy Gillespie:  “Giving a note a name does not make it sound any better."

  • Catharina Meints: “Simpson as Ultimate Technical Pedagogue”

  • Josh Schreiber Shalem: “Feldenkrais® and Viol Playing”

  • Loren Ludwig:  “Teaching and Learning about the Viol via Social Media”

March 2016: Prindle Pond Retreat Center, Charlton, Massachusetts

Presenters & Topics:

  • Julie Elhard: "Creating children's performing ensembles with viols"

  • Sarah Mead: "Hexachord theory"

  • Jay Elfenbein: "Jazz on viols"

  • John Moran: "Recruiting and retaining college-age student viol players"