Woodbury Strings began in 1990 in Woodbury Vermont. The business originally started under a different name, "The Greenstar Playhouse" which was named for the Green Star Theater that Sarah participated in as a child. The Green Star Theater was a summer children's theater that took place in a barn in Jericho, Vermont at the home of Willy and Bob Cochran. The barn happened to have a green star painted above the entrance which is how the theater got its name. In Woodbury, the Greenstar Playhouse was the home of a daycare, puppet making business, youth theater and story telling workshop, and violin school all at once. The name seemed an appropriate heading for all of these endeavours.
In 1992, Sarah began working for the Washington County Youth Service Bureau and continued to moonlight as a violin teacher, partly at home and partly at the Monteverdi Music School in Montpelier. Somewhere during that time it made more sense to change the business name to something that was specific to teaching strings, so the Greenstar Playhouse became "Woodbury Strings."
After six years of working as a youth counselor, there was such a demand for Sarah's skills as a violin/fiddle teacher, she turned to teaching music full time. She continued with the private teaching studio in her home in Woodbury and increased her hours at the Monteverdi Music School. She also added the Lake Champlain Waldorf School of Shelburne to her roster where she taught the viola classes during the day, and private lessons after school. At Monteverdi she was Chair of the Strings Department and hosted many camps and ensembles. In 1998 she began running fiddle camps in collaboration with Irish fiddler, Sarah Blair.
In 2000 Sarah met John Mowad, fiddler and guitarist from New Jersey who had just returned to Vermont after living in Nashville, TN for a few years. John was working in the photography field at the time, but soon became a partner in the business as well as Sarah's eventual husband. Sarah began working in the Northfield Public Schools at around the same time, and Woodbury Strings became an official studio in Montpelier in the summer of 2001. Sarah and John eventually moved to Montpelier to be closer to the studio. In the meantime, Sarah and John created the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra which is where they devoted much of their time from 2003 - 2013. In 2013 they retired from the VFO and moved their business to Burlington's Old North End.
To celebrate 25 years of business Sarah and John hosted several events over the summer and also are in the process of making a 25th anniversary commemorative CD which includes the recordings of several of their students from over the years including performances from a recital in October of 2015. It is expected that this will become available sometime in 2016.
There are many people who have supported Woodbury Strings over the years, but the ones who should be most thanked are all of the parents and students who have been so loyal and supportive over the years. Also, Vermont Violins, Gregoire's Violin Shop, Guitar Sam, and other area music stores who have made it possible for Woodbury Strings students to get started in the first place get much of the credit.
As we are able, we will put up more photos on this page from over the years to help tell our story, but we did not want the year to close without getting this page started! Thank you for reading this far!!
We have had the honor and privelege to work with thousands of young children and their families, as well as hundreds of adults in the community over the years, and are so grateful to have had this opportunity to give 25 years of service to Vermont. We look forward to what the next 25 years will bring! Thank you everyone for helping us to turn 25! --Sarah Hotchkiss (12/5/15)