Debra Lyle is the Director of Instrumental Music at St. Anne’s-Belfield School where she conducts the Upper School orchestras. She is also the Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of String Education. FASE, Inc. is a non-profit originally created in 1978 by the famous pedagogue, Dr. George Bornoff. His laser-focused commitment to provide the best opportunities for teachers through training led him to create an incredible institution that provides financial support for teacher education through grants and scholarship programs. Over the last thirty-five years, Lyle has helped realize Bornoff’s vision as an educator and FASE board member.
A fixture in the Bornoff household since her teens, Lyle has been involved in the Bornoff teacher workshops as far back as 1976 at the National String Workshop (started by Dr. George Bornoff and Dr. Marvin Rabin) in Madison, WI. It was through these incredible experiences that she became acquainted with Dr. Rabin and other influential masters in the field such as David Becker, Dr. Bob Culver, Dr. Gerry Fischbach, and Dr. William LaRue Jones. During that time, first as a student and then as a young teacher—going by the name Debra Ankney—Lyle began her teacher training career working with colleagues from across the country and Canada at Bornoff’s main training camp in Hanson, MA, the Bay State String Camp.
Debbie Lyle is a highly skilled and passionate teacher of the Bornoff Method. Her ability to explain the process of the method and how best to use it in your classroom is inspirational. She has a wonderful and open personality that inspires passion in her students. Debbie is clear and concise in her directions for approaching the Bornoff Method in different situations and with different populations of students. She quickly makes accessible all of the materials so that teachers can adopt the method with ease. – Lisa Lanzkron-Tamarzo
The Founder and Director of the Arcata Summer Strings camps for students and Bornoff Weeklong Workshops, Lyle hosted the camps with Dr. Bornoff and his core of top instructors in attendance in Minnesota in the 1990s. In the early 2000s after Dr. Bornoff’s passing, she continued the tradition in Charlottesville, VA with lead teacher Jennie Chan—Dr. Bornoff’s right hand assistant for over forty years—as well as with other Bornoff specialists from around the country.
While in Minnesota, Lyle also served as chair of the Fine Arts Department as well as Orchestra Director at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. Lyle founded the S-SM Jazz String Festival and took her student ensembles to participate as a “wire choir” to jazz band festivals in the Mid-West, coming away with honors such as one of the “Top Big Bands” at the University of Mary Jazz Festival in North Dakota. Lyle was also the principal conductor for the Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestra and the Cannon Valley Youth Orchestras, Newsletter Editor for the American String Teachers Minnesota Chapter’s quarterly magazine, and co-founder of the Minnesota Youth Orchestra Festivals. She received a 1998 Downbeat Magazine Award as director of the “Best Classical Chamber Ensemble,” and the MN ASTA’s “Meritorious Orchestra Program Award” 1999.
While living in Minnesota and since her move to Charlottesville, VA, Lyle has been a clinician and presented student ensembles in performance for many colleges and string education conferences and workshops, most notably: National American String Teachers Association’s yearly conferences since 2012, ASTA state conferences, NAfME bi-annual and state conferences, the Institute for Innovation in String Education, the International String Workshop, the International Association of Jazz Educators conference, Texas Orchestra Directors conference, and more. In addition, she’s presented at colleges and universities nationwide.
“I AM ALL SMILES! This year, my beginning string students have the best tone I’ve heard in my classroom in a long time! After studying the Bornoff Approach with Debbie Lyle, I started my students with whole bows in early September. There is a marked difference in their tone production. Another Bornoff bonus for my violin and viola players is the use of fourth finger. One beginning violinist said, “I can’t play Ode to Joy” with my open A, I have to use the fourth finger!” I’ve never heard that in my classroom before!” –Debbie Trowbridge: Orchestra Director, The Nokesville School, Prince William County, VA
Debbie attended the Hartt School of Music while she studied violin and string pedagogy privately with George Bornoff. Her studies included private violin lessons and pedagogy with Jennie Chan as well as Raphael Bronstein, cello with Bornoff specialist Brenda Chambers, and conducting with Jere Lanz.
Debbie dedicated ten months to an independent study with George Bornoff during her sophomore year at Hartt. She moved into his neighborhood and worked with him in his home each day. Her studies included daily private lessons and a guided practice schedule of 50 hours per week. She studied the Bornoff methodology as she honed her own performance skills under his tutelage. In addition to her studies with Dr. Bornoff, Debbie also taught at two after-school programs under the direction of Jennie Chan. Debbie eventually took over Chan’s classes and several private students, and her teaching was evaluated under the strictest tenants of the Bornoff Approach.
After her year in Newton, MA with Dr. Bornoff, Debbie returned to the Hartt School to study with Raphael Bronstein. Bronstein was a great supporter and friend of George Bornoff and took Debbie into his studio to continue her work on violin pedagogy at advancing levels.