Madeline Island Strings Retreat 2024

Are you an adult string player and a nature enthusiast? Yes? Then the Adult Strings Retreat on Madeline is perfect for you! During this retreat, adult recreational string players will have the opportunity to work with MacPhail’s outstanding string faculty members, connect with other adult students, and commune with the natural beauty of Madeline Island.

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Event and Activity Descriptions

August 11 through August 14

Adult Strings Retreat on Madeline Island

The Adult Strings Retreat on Madeline Island seeks to provide a well-rounded educational experience. Everything is string-related in some way, from individual practice time to rehearsal and coaching time to socializing.

Special Topics. MacPhail faculty members will be giving two informational presentations about string instruments. The first topic is The History of String Instruments, giving a broad overview of the development of what we now know as string instruments. The second topic brings string instruments into modernity with a discussion titled, Modern Scores, Techniques and Notation.

Evening Activities. Two music-related evening activities are planned: a Fiddle Circle and a Movie Night. The Fiddle Circle is a semi-improvisatory group music-making experience. Participants will be provided parts in advance ranging in difficulty from basic sustaining notes to more complicated melodies. The point is to help build community while playing an Irish jig. The Movie Night will screen the documentary “Composed.” The film pulls back the curtain on performance anxiety in professional musicians. Even the best of them get nervous, but not everyone admits it. A brief discussion led by the MacPhail faculty members will conclude the screening.

Island Time. Nature abounds on Madeline Island, from shopping and dining on the main strip to beaches and hiking trails. During downtime, participants are welcome to explore the island independently. More information will be provided at the retreat about what to do and places to see on the island.

Registration is now open.

About the Retreat

There are two tracks to choose from:

1) Chamber Music for intermediate and advanced players: you will be paired with other ensemble members to work on string chamber repertoire. Participants interested in the Chamber Music track should submit a recent video of their playing so ensembles can be arranged according to playing ability.

2) String Orchestra for beginning and intermediate players: You will rehearse string orchestra repertoire with a conductor. Participants interested in the String Orchestra will automatically be placed in a string ensemble.

Repertoire will be determined before the retreat, and all participants will be notified beforehand. Participants should practice their parts to the best of their ability and be ready for rehearsals.

A small, low-pressure “share-formance” will conclude the retreat.


Sunday, August 11
Downtime/island timeMeet & Greet
5:00-6:00 Retreat Welcome and Overview
6:00-7:00 Dinner
Downtime/island timeEvening activity: Fiddle Circle
Monday, August 12
7:30-8:30 amBreakfast
8:30-9:30 Individual practice time
9:30-11:00 Ensemble rehearsal
11:00 am-12:00 pmDowntime/island time
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Special topic: “The History of Stringed Instruments”
2:00-2:45 Individual practice time
2:45-4:15 Ensemble rehearsal
4:15-6:00 Downtime/island time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
Downtime/island timeMovie Night: Composed
Tuesday, August 13
7:30-8:30 amBreakfast
8:30-9:30Individual practice time
9:30-11:00Ensemble rehearsal
11:00 am-12:00 pmDowntime/island time
1:00-2:00Special topic: “Modern Scores, Techniques and Notation”
2:00-2:45Individual practice time
2:45-4:15Ensemble rehearsal
4:15-6:00Down time/island time
6:00-7:00Dinner offsite
7:30Evening activity: Outdoor Bonfire
Wednesday, August 14
7:30-8:30 amBreakfast
8:30-9:15Individual practice time
9:15-10:45Ensemble rehearsal
10:45 am-1:00 pmLunch and personal time


Boarding is available in the MacPhail on Madeline Island lodges. These buildings feature screened porches, lounges, and kitchenettes. Dorm rooms are shared between two students (limited private rooms available for an additional fee) and are equipped with shelving, wardrobes, and air conditioning.  Lodges feature two levels – the second floor is accessible by stairway only, so please note any mobility limitations upon registration. Communal bathrooms on each floor have shared sinks outside the restroom area and a walk-in shower, sink, and toilet in a separate room secured with a door.

Please note that there are three separate locations for activities. Dorms & practice rooms/small ensemble spaces are grouped in one location, and the dining hall and performance space are in separate locations. Transportation may be required between the various sites as they are not within walking distance of one another.

For more information about the Madeline Island grounds and buildings, please visit


Participants provide their own transportation to Madeline Island. Participants are encouraged to carpool; MacPhail is willing to help facilitate sharing contact information with others who want to carpool. Parking is limited on the island. The ferry charges fees for both the vehicle and each passenger. Transportation between sites on the island may be necessary as they are not closely walkable.


All-inclusive (Includes classes, lodgings, meals, and activities) $1,200.00


The deadline to register is Monday, July 1, 2024.

Ensemble pairings and string orchestra repertoire will be decided upon and sent out no less than two weeks before the start of the retreat.

Participants in the Chamber Music track should video record themself playing a piece or two that they feel represents their playing. Please also include a three-octave ascending and descending scale. Upload the video to YouTube (set to ‘unlisted’) and e-mail the YouTube link to Jeremy Swider, Chamber Music Coordinator, at [email protected].

Participants in the String Orchestra track do not need to record a video.

Registration is now open. Click here

Cancellation Policy

A 100% refund will be issued if a written (or email) cancellation notice is received and acknowledged before July 1, 2024. After June 1, no refunds will be issued.

What to Bring

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