NC ASTA is an active and growing state chapter of the American String Teachers Association. We enrich string education in North Carolina through ASTACAP, Solo Competitions, Scholarship Opportunities, and Professional Development Workshops.
The North Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association enriches lives through universal access to excellent string teaching and playing. We pursue this mission through an open sharing of ideas, benefits, services, and activities responsive to the musical needs of all members and their students. This is accomplished by the development of strong and active chapter leadership, enhancement of the image and visibility of string teaching and study, advocacy for string education through communication and cooperation with other music advocacy organizations, and fostering an inclusive community of string teachers, players, and their students. We fulfill this mission by embracing and inspiring our membership and by welcoming, empowering and serving their string related aspirations.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Please feel free to contact our board with any questions.
President: Aaron Craven
Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Aaron graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in music education K-12 with an emphasis in string bass performance and a minor in piano performance. Aaron also holds a master’s degree in double bass / electric bass performance from the University of Tennessee.
For two years, Aaron was the Assistant Director of the Oak Ridge High School Orchestra program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In the fourteen years Aaron has been the Director of Orchestras at Forsyth Country Day he has grown enrollment in the strings program from just under 60 students to over 200, making FCDS one of the largest independent school string programs in the Southeast. Active as a clinician, Aaron has served as a guest conductor for a number of county and state orchestras in throughout the south east. He currently serves as the president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association and also acts as the audition coordinator for the NCMEA Jr. Western Regional Orchestra.
While in Tennessee, Aaron performed with the Symphony of the Mountains in Kingsport, and the Knoxville Opera. Prior to moving to Knoxville, Aaron was assistant Principal Bass of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in Johnstown, PA. Currently, Aaron performs as Principal Bass of the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, NC, and continues jazz performances as a freelance bass player with groups throughout the Piedmont Triad.
President-Elect: Ryane Dunnagan
Ryane Dunnagan is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She received both her Undergraduate and Masters degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts in cello performance. Under the instruction of Robert Marsh and Marcy Rosen, founder of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, Ms. Dunnagan has participated in various masterclasses with such artists as Joel Krosnick and the Juilliard String Quartet.
After completing her Masters degree in 2003, Ms. Dunnagan taught public school at the middle and high school level. In addition to teaching, she also performed with various orchestras in North Carolina and Virginia, such as the Salisbury, Roanoke and Asheville Symphony Orchestras. During that time, she was under the instruction of Alan Black, principal cellist of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
In 2006, Ms. Dunnagan began her Doctorate degree in cello performance at the University of Georgia under the instruction of Dr. David Starkweather. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she was the Master Teacher of the UGA String Project, a national organization dedicated to promoting music and fostering music education in the public school system. While in Georgia, Ms. Dunnagan performed with various orchestras and most notably performed with the legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck for a documentary produced by Clint Eastwood.
Ms. Dunnagan completed her doctorate in 2011 and returned to North Carolina in 2012. She resumed her post in the public schools until 2016. Dr. Dunnagan is in demand as a clinician and frequently guest conducts in schools, county events, and youth orchestras. Dr. Dunnagan maintains a large private studio and is also an active member of the American String Teachers Association. She is currently a lead teacher for the Winston-Salem Symphony’s P.L.A.Y. program, an elementary strings program in the public schools.
Past-President: William Slechta
Bill Slechta is originally from the Philadelphia, PA area and started playing violin in 4th grade. He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The College of Wooster in Ohio in 1991 with a major in School Music Teaching and a minor in Mathematics. At Wooster, Bill started playing viola and performed on both violin and viola in the Wooster Symphony Orchestra in addition to participating in other musical ensembles. After teaching in NJ for a year and PA for six years, Bill spent two years as a full-time Graduate Assistant in the Music Department of Kansas State University while earning a Master of Music degree with emphasis in Music Education in 2000. He performed on viola in the University Orchestra including serving as principal violist for three semesters while also teaching Orchestration in the Musical Styles program and assisting with the Orchestra and an American Music course.
Between 2000 and 2008, Bill taught strings and general music in KS, OH, and ND mostly following his wife’s positions teaching at the university level. Since 2008, Bill has taught in the Wake County Public School System including working at West Cary Middle School since December 2010. He teaches all of the strings/orchestras and also teaches music electives and mathematics. In addition to his teaching role, Bill is the co-chair of their School Improvement Team, a member of the school’s Leadership Team, and a Mentor Teacher for new teachers in the Beginning Teacher Support Program. Bill was his school’s Teacher of the Year and a semi-finalist for Wake County’s Teacher of the Year in the 2014-2015 school year.
Bill has taught private violin and viola lessons throughout his career most recently from 2008 to 2015 at the Cary School of Music and also participated in various orchestras on violin and viola including the Main Line Symphony, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, and currently the Chapel Hill Philharmonia (CHP) in addition to serving as co-librarian of the CHP. Since 2002 Bill has taught at the College of Wooster’s Music Camp every summer as a string sectional coach, Chamber Strings instructor, and Orchestra Conductor. He is an active member of ASTA (including his leadership positions in NC-ASTA) and the National Association for Music Education for over 25 years.
Treasurer: Palma Rajki
Ms. Palma Rajki was born in the beautiful country of Hungary, where she began her music education at a very early age, attending special music classes since preschool. While in high school, she studied at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Music in Békéscsaba, Hungary. She arrived in the United States as a 16-year-old violinist and attended Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, VA for two years where she earned a scholarship to attend the Conservatory of Music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, graduating with a Bachelors degree in Music Education. She subsequently earned a Masters Degree from George Mason University in Special Education with an emphasis in Severe Disabilities.
For seven years, Ms. Rajki taught in the Fairfax County Public Schools System in Virginia; at Kings Glen, Fairview, and Oakview Elementary Schools as well as Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke. She relocated to Raleigh, NC in 2006 to teach orchestra at Dillard Drive Middle School for 12 years. She then was appointed as the orchestra director at Ligon GT Magnet Middle School in August 2018 where she is teaching today.
Ms. Rajki is a dedicated member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA), and the American Strings Teachers Association (ASTA). She is the orchestra chair for Wake County Public School Systems (2011-Present) and also for the Eastern Region of North Carolina (2016-2018), treasurer for the North Carolina Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (NCASTA) (2007-Present), and co-chair for the Eastern Region Orchestra Music Performance Assessment (MPA) (2016-2019).
In her spare time, Ms. Rajki enjoys reading, attending concerts and performances, and cheering for her favorite soccer team FC Barcelona, but her true passion is for traveling. Her dream is to visit the entire world someday, which she is accomplishing little by little.