PVA Strings

The Centre for Performing and Visual Arts at Central Memorial High School
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Strings Program Overview

The Strings Program at Central Memorial High School offers beginners, intermediate and advanced players the opportunity to develop the skills and discipline necessary to play violin, viola cello or double bass. Our classes focus around technique, ensemble playing, sight-reading, solo work and performance. The strings ensemble has many performances throughout the year at concerts and festivals. We explore a wide variety of music from the classics to jazz and modern works.

Our Musicianship Course is an advanced elective for instrumental students who are interested in furthering their musical skills. This course focuses on performance skills, technical studies (scales, etudes, rhythm, etc), history, theory, ear training, repertoire studies, and areas of special interest. Musicianship students may consider the Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam during their grade 12 year.

The string ensemble has many performances throughout the year and form ensembles with members of the band program. Many students are also members of other ensembles throughout Calgary such as the Calgary Youth Orchestra, Calgary Fiddlers, Bow Valley Fiddlers, and Mount Royal Chamber Ensembles.

The students may complement their studies through our Performance and Visual Arts program. Courses in musicianship are offered at the 10, 20, and 30 levels.

Instrumental students may have the opportunity to perform in the orchestra of the PVA Musical.

Instrument rentals are available through the Calgary Board of Education for an annual fee. Instrumental students are strongly encouraged to enhance their musical development through private instruction.ation for an annual fee. Instrumental students are strongly encouraged to enhance their musical development through private instruction.

Please see Applying to PVA for audition/interview requirements.

Beginner string players are encouraged to join our Beginner Orchestra, which rehearses twice a week outside of the timetable.  No musical experience required!

PD35 include – Professional Development in the Arts 35

Professional Development in the Arts 35 / Entrepeneurial Artist (Junior Achievement)

All PVA students are enrolled in one of two courses;  Professional Development in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These programs of study allow PVA students to explore how they see themselves as artists and become more aware of the process involved in preparing for the marketing and business aspect of being a professional in the arts community.

Students will experience a variety of teacher-led assignments/activities as well as a number of student-directed online projects.

Audition/Interview Requirements for Strings

Incoming students of all abilities interested in being a part of the PVA Strings program must book an audition time. If you have no experience on a string instrument, this time will be used to discuss the program and options for starting string instrument study.

Please bring your instrument to your audition. Be prepared to play two different scales (however you normally practice them) and a short piece (maximum of 3 minutes). There will be a short sight reading example for you to look at, talk about, and play through.

Following your audition, there will be time to discuss your musical background, reasons for applying to the PVA program, and commitment to the discipline. Details about our program will also be discussed, including our PVA specific Musicianship course. This course teaches theory, harmony, ear training, music history, and technique with the goal of providing students with a smooth transition into University level music courses. This interview process will give you an opportunity to ask questions and learn about our program, in order to determine if we are a good fit for you!

A parent or caregiver should be present at your interview.

Click on the links below for detailed information on the application/registration process.

PVA auditions are friendly and supportive. This may be your first audition ever, and we want everyone to have a positive and fun experience.

Strings Events

How to Apply

All the information you need on one handy page.

PVA Application Form

Direct link to form

CMHS Music Program Handbook

What to do after you’ve been accepted into PVA

Our Teachers

staff – Archer, Katrina

Katrina Archer

Katrina Archer

Band and Strings Instructor

Katrina Archer has been involved with music in Calgary from a young age. She studied saxophone and cello at the University of Calgary, earning a Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Secondary Education in 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Education from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. As a musician, Ms. Archer has performed as a sectional cellist with the Symphony of the Kootenays, as well as performing with several local bands and ensembles in Calgary. Ms. Archer has become involved in the international El Sistema movement, which exposes at-risk youth to intense musical study on an instrument as a means to create positive social change within a community. To that end, she has been a part of instructing Philadelphia’s “Play On Philly” program, as well as Calgary’s Multicultural Youth Orchestra. She believes firmly in the power of musical study to positively transform individuals, communities, and society. At Central Memorial, Ms. Archer directs the String Orchestra program, co-conducts the Symphonic Band, and teaches advanced instrumental and choral musicianship classes.

staff – Massey, Greg

Greg Massey

Gregory Massey


Pianist and tenor Gregory Massey is a versatile musician who is trained in musical genres spanning from classical, to jazz, to rock. Gregory’s formal education includes completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, studies in jazz piano at Grant MacEwan College, and a year of graduate work at the University of Alberta’s main campus. Gregory also received his Grade 10 certificate in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. 

Gregory is a skilled accompanist who works with singers and instrumentalists of all ages and abilities. The ability to perform in a variety of styles has opened many doors for Gregory, including being the lead pianist and keytar player in several Alberta based rock bands and being the Assistant Music Director at Living Spirit United Church. Gregory is currently living in Calgary, Alberta where he is an active teacher, director and accompanist.

Music Leader, Mike Gardner, on the music program:

Music Program Introduction




Strings FAQ

Strings Program FAQ

Q:  Are PVA music students required to take private lessons?

It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence.

Q:  What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student?

Music students typically attend 1 – 3 morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.

Q:  When do PVA music students take Professional Development in the Arts 35?

All PVA Band students who choose to enroll in Musicianship will be expected to participate in Professional Development in the Arts 35. This self-directed course is a combination of teacher-directed assignments and activities combined with student-directed or on-line projects. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. This course is not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher content will occur during musicianship classes and at designated appointment times.

Q:  Are all instrumental students considered PVA students?


Links for music students

Music Department 2016-17 Handbook

Our music manual has everything you need to know.
Click here to download in pdf format.

Music Parents' Association (CMMPA)

All parents of music students have automatic membership.

Visit our website for all the details.

“After hearing tonight’s performance by these musicians, three words come to mind: talent, dedication, and maturity.”

testimonialsWallace Galbraith
Director of the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, Ayr, Scotland

The music program at central was more than a class, it was a second home...

The staff were so welcoming and warm that students are able to have a close and long lasting relationship with them. Students spend a lot more time together than in other classes (especially on tour) and because music is very team orientated, strong friendships are quickly established. It is one of the only subjects where you spend three years growing up with the same teachers and students. After a full day of analysing texts and memorizing data sheets, it was a relief that I could go to the music room and do something I was very passionate about. More importantly however, do all of this with people that made me feel content and completely at home with.” 

testimonialsAdam Tran
2007 grad


5111 - 21st Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3E 1R9
Phone: 403-243-8880
Fax: 403-777-7059


PVA Events