Strings Area


The CSU string area seeks to empower students with the knowledge, skills and experience needed for a successful career in music. One-on-one training with artist/scholars, chamber ensemble coaching sessions, rehearsals and concerts with the University Symphony and Sinfonia Orchestras promote the intellectual, creative and artistic growth of each student. We believe that total musicianship involves training the artists of the future to have a breadth of knowledge. Professional musicians today are performers, scholars, educators and active supporters of the cause of music. Our string program guides the aspiring musician towards the fulfillment of these goals.

Pedagogy = The Art of Teaching

Did you know there are currently extraordinary opportunities for a career combining performance and teaching? Let us prepare you for the high professional demands of this rewarding field. At Colorado State University, we emphasize the importance of performing AND teaching.

Focus on Private Studio Pedagogy

This track prepares you to teach violin, viola, or cello in a private studio setting or music school. The curriculum follows guidelines established by the American String Teachers Association and includes comprehensive training in methods developed by renowned pedagogues such as Robert Gillespie, Paul Rolland, and Phyllis Young. Our award-winning, internationally recognized faculty will observe and guide you as you gain valuable experience teaching beginning and intermediate students.


Study With

Ronald Francois

Coordinator of Strings Area
Associate Professor of Violin
Chamber Music

(970) 491-3160

Leslie Stewart

Special Assistant Professor of Violin
Director of Master of Music, Music Education Conducting Specialization
Chamber Music

(970) 219-5985

Margaret Miller

Special Assistant Professor of Viola
Coordinator of the Graduate String Quartet Program

(719) 660-0878

Barbara Thiem

Special Assistant Professor of Cello
Chamber Music

(970) 491-3276

Forest Greenough

Associate Professor of Double Bass
Music Theory

Strings Events

Strings News

A poster promoting the upcoming University Symphony Orchestra Concert "A Last Dance"

University Symphony Orchestra Concert: The Last Dance


With Guest Tiffany Blake, Soprano The University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Wes Kenney, plays two dance inspired works: Edvard Grieg’s Symphonic Dances and Igor Stravinsky’s iconic Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). In between the two, CSU faculty artist Tiffany Blake performs the beautiful Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss to round out […]

An image promoting Leslie Stewart Day

It’s Leslie Stewart Day!


Whereas Professor Leslie Stewart had been the original Music Director and conductor of the Health and Wellness Community Orchestra of Fort Collins for the last 10 years and Whereas she had nurtured and created an atmosphere of life long learning, love and improved mental and physical health in the playing of Classical orchestral music for […]

Strings Blog


Our Korean Experience, Entry #9

Director of Orchestras Wes Kenney and Music Professor Leslie Stewart are spending two weeks in South Korea where Maestro Kenney will conduct the Changwon Philharmonic. These entries document their latest experience! Saturday, June 22 Four laps around the lake starts what will be a long travel day. We choose to have breakfast outside the hotel […]



Borromeo String Quartet: The visionary performances of the ensemble have established them as one of the most important string quartets of our time. The Chicago Tribune calls the Borromeo “a remarkably accomplished string quartet, not simply for its high technical polish and refined tone, but more importantly for the searching musical insights it brings.”


The Mendelssohn Trio: Formed in 1988, the trio is named for cellist Barbara Thiem's great grandfather, Franz von Mendelssohn, a nephew of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and an important supporter of artists and musicians in the Berlin of the early 20th century. While performing the standard repertoire of the 18th and 19th centuries the trio has made an effort to introduce its audiences to works by 20th century American and European composers. The members give frequent concerts and work closely with students on chamber music projects.

Graduate String Quartet Program


Prerequisites for Admission: Bachelor’s Degree in Music, variety of solo and chamber music repertoire.


  • Assistance in developing artistic and business-related aspects for a successful quartet career
  • Participation in LEAP courses is encouraged
  • Seminar Topics Include:
    • Outreach Program Development
    • Creative Programming
    • Commissioning New Works
    • Arts Leadership & Administration
    • Chamber Music literature/Pedagogy
    • Supervised Coaching Experience

Students will be Involved in the Following:

  • Daily Rehearsal Time
  • Dedicated ensemble rehearsal space in our new state-of-the-art teaching and performance facility
  • Weekly Coaching

Additional Professional Work Available:

  • Opportunities with four professional symphonies in Northern Colorado
  • Teaching Opportunities
  • Chamber Music Performances

For more information, please contact Margaret Miller.

Guest Artists


Alexander String QuartetSan Francisco State University


Cavani String Quartet, Cleveland Institute of Music;


Hugo Wolf String Quartett, Vienna;


Boris Garlitsky. Paris Conservatoire, Concertmaster of London Philharmonic


Break of Reality, cello rock,

Turtle Island,

Lysander Trio,

Minguet Quartet,

Annual Guest

Borromeo String Quartet,


Studio Overview

The CSU violin studios comprise a wide variety of students from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds.

As students of music, the focus of concentration is on the various degrees we offer, namely, the undergraduate degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Music Therapy, Music Education, Composition, Jazz Studies, and Performance, and graduate degrees in Performance, Education, Music Therapy, and Conducting.

Many of our violin students hail from Colorado, while a good number come from out of state. Our numerous international students add to the diversity within the violin studio; students from Mexico, Korea, and China have made significant contributions to our rich musical environment.

In addition to weekly violin lessons and studio classes, violin students gain valuable experience by performing in chamber music groups such as string quartets, and mixed chamber ensembles. Participation in larger ensembles such as the University Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonia chamber orchestra, and the opera orchestra adds to this wide range of activities. Masterclasses by visiting professional guest artist are also a regular feature of our program.

Our students are dedicated and passionate about the violin and committed to being the best musicians they can be, proudly producing many finalists in the annual concerto competition!

As senior member of the violin faculty, and head of the string division, Dr. Ron Francois teaches most of the violin students at CSU (by audition only), and Ms. Leslie Stewart, coordinator of the string pedagogy program, also teaches our growing body of violin students.

With this team of dedicated violin teachers, great degree programs, and a world class facility, CSU is a great place to study for a successful career in music.

Alumni and Student News

Submit your good news to Class Notes.

  • Francisco Barradas Galvan (M.M. '14) Mr. Galvan's studies at CSU were funded by the 'Fulbright' Garcia Robles program and he completed his studies with distinction. Having lead one of CSU's graduate string quartets, Mr. Galvan has been granted admission to the D.M.A. program at the University of Western Ontario, Canada where he will study violin performance on a full scholarship.
  • Adrian Barrera Ramos (M.M.) On a Mexican study grant, Mr. Ramos took a prize in the CSU concerto competition in Spring 2014. As first violinist in the Graduate String Quartet, Mr. Ramos is already in demand as a soloist in Mexico with several invitations to perform. He will complete his MM in the spring of '15
  • Hannah Barnes (B.M. '12) Ms. Barnes held the post of Concertmaster for the CSU Symphony orchestra for three years. She also took a prize in the CSU concerto competition and is now a professional freelancer with several Colorado Symphony orchestras.
  • Patrick Weseman (B.M. '11) Patrick's flair for human relations has guided him into the new LEAP Master program offered at CSU. This “Leadership-Entrepreneurship-Arts Advocacy and the Public" degree expands on his experience as a musician, giving him the perfect background for this new exciting career.
  • Wyatt True (M.M. ' 10) Mr. True lead one of CSU's graduate string quartets and has recently completed his DMA at the University of Oregon.
  • Chris Jusell (B.M. '08) Mr. Jusell won the CSU concerto competition in 2008 and went on to earn the concertmaster position with the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Jesse Maurer (B.M. Ed, '07) Since graduating, Mr. Maurer has been working as music educator in the Widefield school district in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Guest Artists


Fabián López, University of North Carolina

Arkady Fomin, Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Elizabeth Pitcairn, The Red Violin;


Boris Garlitsky, Paris Conservatoire, Concertmaster of London Philharmonic

Claude Sim, Colorado Symphony Orchestra;


Michael Davis, Concertmaster, Louisville Symphony;

Alessandro Cervo,


Jeri Jorgensen, Colorado College

William Knuth, Duo Sonidos;


Annual Guests

Nicholas Kitchen, Borromeo String Quartet;

Kristopher Tong, Borromeo String Quartet;


Studio Overview

At Colorado State University, the members of the viola studio have a wide variety of backgrounds and share a commitment to the highest level of viola playing. Students have come to CSU from across the country to study for one of the many degrees offered by the at both the undergraduate and graduate level: performance, education, therapy and Bachelor of Arts.

In addition to weekly lessons and studio class, violists at CSU have many performance opportunities, including the University Symphony Orchestra, University Sinfonia (which also plays opera performances), as well as chamber music for both strings and mixed ensembles. The repertoire for all ensembles is on the stands of the top orchestras and chamber music groups in the country.  There are also performances and master classes by guest artists, including the Borromeo Quartet from the New England Conservatory, which is in residence at CSU twice a year. 

The University Center for the Arts offers outstanding performance spaces and practice rooms.  There are more than 100 music events every semester, as well as theatre and dance.

Our goal at CSU is to provide the best teaching and performing experiences so that students are ready for a successful musical career. The viola studio invites you to visit!

Alumni News

To submit your good news, click here.

  • Chue Vue (B.A. and B.M., Performance '10), received his Masters in Performance at Arizona State University
  • Sabrina Romney (M.M., Performance '12), is living in Boulder, CO and is a member of the Fort Collins Symphony, the Greeley Philharmonic and the Cheyenne Symphony
  • Chealsea Bernhardt (M.M., Performance '14) is a member of the Fort Collins Chamber Music Society and is teaching privately in Fort Collins.
  • Christian Huang (B.M. in Performance and Education) is the new orchestra director at Skyline High School in the St. Vrain Valley School District, Colo.

Guest Artists


Amadi Hummings, Old Dominion University;

Larry Wheeler, University of Houston


Basil Vendryes, Lamont School of Music;

Christine Rutledge, University of Iowa School of Music

Annual Guests

Mai Motobuchi, Borromeo String Quartet;


Studio Overview

Cello studies at Colorado State University support the full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Our students not only participate in orchestra, but also play chamber music regularly. Most of the cello students choose to take our series of cello pedagogy classes, as well as cello literature.

Special features include the possibility of choosing a performance option for those students who are not in the performance degree, but are serious about their cello studies. We meet once a week for cello studio class and make a point of introducing our new students to the routine with a mentor program and numerous ways to connect socially.

“The cello studio at CSU is like a hodge podge family! We play for each other every week, and we all discuss, praise, and critique our performances afterwards. The first studio performances are always nerve wracking, but the camaraderie between us all makes it a comfortable and constructive environment. We have a Facebook page where we share music and ideas! All the cello [students] are very supportive and fun...I wouldn't want to play any other instrument at CSU!"

Guest Artists


Regina Mushabac, Baldwin Wallace University


Dennis Parker,

Michael Haber


Pablo Mahve-Veglia, Grand Valley State University;

Adriana Contino, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, and Anderson University


Bruce Uchimura, Western Michigan University, The Merling Trio;

Annual Guest

Yeesun Kim, Borromeo String Quartet;

Double Bass

Studio Overview

The double bass studio at Colorado State University is made up of a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students from Colo., the United States, and abroad. Double bass students represent every music major CSU offers, with many being double majors in areas such as engineering and various sciences as well. Additionally, many CSU bassists have been music minors or non-majors who have gone on to perform professionally in various capacities with music as a “second” career.

Double bassists at CSU are trained in a wide variety of performance styles, as bassists have the unique opportunity to work professionally in more genres than any other instrument. While all students receive rigorous classical training, each student is encouraged to pursue other musical styles, especially jazz. Students have the opportunity to perform in a number of CSU ensembles, including symphony, chamber orchestra, opera orchestra, wind ensemble, symphonic band, jazz big bands, and jazz combos. Many students also take advantage of performing in the flourishing Northern Colo. music scene, from jazz and classical to Ska and Bluegrass.

The mantra of the double bass studio is simply “work hard and have a great attitude!” We are a tight group working in a family atmosphere who pushes each other to improve each and every day, and are proud of the tradition of bass excellence at CSU—recently, many bassists have won CSU awards for academic and performance excellence!

Teaching Philosophy

As a diverse and exceptionally busy professional himself, Dr. Greenough believes in teaching students a diverse skillset that will allow them to take advantage of many different opportunities as a professional. Whether your goals are more specific or more general, to be a working professional in today’s market, a bassist must be able to play a wide range of styles at a high level. Even if you are primarily a classical performer, having the understanding of many styles not only improves your musicianship, but will allow you to pursue more performance opportunities as a professional. It is Dr. Greenough’s goal to develop students into functional professionals who have the skills necessary to work in today’s ever-changing music market.

First and foremost, Dr. Greenough is dedicated to helping each student develop the best physical relationship with his or her instrument possible. Instrument and physical setup issues are very unique to the double bass due to the many variables in size and shape for both the instrument and the player. Developing the most physically advantageous and ergonomic relationship with your instrument is not only important for musicianship, but also for long term physical health. Additionally, Dr. Greenough works with students to build comprehensive shoulder and core strength to prevent injury with an exercise plan developed in conjunction with the region’s leading sports rehabilitation therapists.

Dr. Greenough believes in the uniqueness of each and every student—everyone naturally has different strengths and challenges. While each student progresses through standard repertoire including solo music, orchestral excerpts, etc., the curriculum for each student is adapted to address the most needed areas first. For all students, emphasis is placed on developing strong intonation habits (through use of drone practice, scales, etc.) and developing a consistent practice routine to build stamina and dexterity. Students study from all areas of historic and modern double bass technique, from Simandl to Rabbath—while every player needs to be able to execute passagework and play musically, one student may have a better aptitude for pivot fingerings, while another may be more naturally equipped for finger extensions, for example.

Finally, above all is the consistent focus on creating music, with the understanding that everything we do is in service to music as an art. We are not merely learning to play the double bass, we are learning to create music of the highest artistic caliber.  Dr. Greenough will help you to develop your unique musical voice, with the ability to make solid musical and phrasing decisions based on the history and structure of what you are performing—playing with a nice sound is one aspect, but truly performing from a musically informed perspective is another.

Alumni News

To submit your good news, click here.

  • William Cubin (B.M. ’10): Willy is an active blues bassist, and teaches music at Ferguson High School in Loveland, Colo.
  • David Saccardi (B.M. ‘11): David is principal bass of the Cheyenne Symphony, assistant principal of the Greeley Philharmonic, and a section member of the Fort Collins Symphony. David is also the Director of Orchestras at Loveland High School in Loveland, Colo., as is an active clinician.
  • Jason Rosenholtz-Witt (M.M. ’11): Jason is currently pursuing his Ph.D in musicology at the prestigious Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. Prior to leaving Colo., Jason was assistant principal bass of the Cheyenne Symphony, section bassist in the Fort Collins Symphony, and a very active freelance performer. He also was one of the most sought after private bass teachers in the region.
  • Zach Schwartz (B.A. ’12): Zach is currently in medical school following his dream of being a physician.
  • Brandon Katz (B.M. ’10, MM ’12): Brandon is an active performer and teaches many different instruments privately. He is currently the music teacher at Timberline PK-8 in Longmont, Colo.
  • Daniel Smith (M.M. ’13): Daniel is an active freelance jazz, classical, and electric bassist throughout Colorado. He is orchestra director at Lucile Erwin Middle School in Loveland, Colo.
  • Kenny Jones (MM ’13): Kenny is a busy freelance classical, jazz, and bluegrass performer and recording artist in the region.  He also teaches many young bassists in Northern Colo., and is active in the Dalcroze movement.
  • Erik Deines (B.M. ’15): Erik is currently a double major in performance and physics and won a section position in the Greeley Philharmonic at the end of his junior year.
  • Zach Bush (B.M. ’15): Zach is a junior double major in performance and education, and recently won a section position in the Cheyenne Symphony, and has attended the Marrowstone Music Festival.
  • Drew Miller (B.M. ’15): Drew is a junior double major in performance and electrical engineering. Drew freelances professionally and has attended the Marrowstone Music Festival.


May 16

Congrats to Kayley Green! She graduated this past weekend with a music minor and will be returning to CSU for her master's degree in accounting....


Studio Overview

Colorado State University’s harp area helps students prepare for well-rounded professional careers as performers and/or teachers of chamber, orchestral, and solo repertory.

Undergraduate and graduate harp students receive thorough instruction in harp technique and repertoire, and experience in performance.


Professor Courtney Hershey Bress is continuously involved in the instruction, coaching, and performance of solo and orchestral repertory and chamber music. All harp performance majors will have one hour private lessons and will participate in studio class every week.  They will also participate in the ensembles at the school, University Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band.

Colorado State harp students have access to hearing many concerts each year, performed by students, faculty, and visiting artists.