Strings Studies

The violin and viola studio prepares students to be well-rounded musicians, creative teachers and accomplished violinists and violists. Music Majors, Music minors and non-major participants are welcome in the studio. The studio atmosphere is warm and nurturing, yet each student is challenged by the repertoire and technique work that they are given in the lessons. Students are encouraged to listen to each other and offer constructive criticism in studio classes and master class settings.

Violinists and violists at UM perform in the University of Montana Symphony Orchestra (UMSO), in standard Chamber ensembles, and in solo performance settings. We encourage students to form chamber ensembles with mixed instrumentation so that they experience a wide variety of repertoire and learn how to work with other kinds of instrumentalists. Our students are also very actively working with UM student composers, often premiering new works several times a year. Some students audition for and perform with the Missoula Symphony, a community orchestra comprised of professional musicians, community members and students. Select students are awarded MSO scholarships. The MSO string scholarships are awarded to deserving students after their scholarship auditions as prospective freshman. Many of the other Montana community orchestras hire our students to be members of their orchestras.

Our students also have the opportunity to be counselors at our UM Summer Strings Camp and some qualify for Nash Pedagogy scholarships to teach students from the Missoula public schools.

Often, students from the studio are selected to perform for the Guest Artists that come to perform with the String Orchestra of the Rockies and the Missoula Symphony. Some of the more recent guests include: Andreas Cardenas; Rachel Barton Pine, Robert McDuffie, Adele Anthony, Maria Larionoff, Brett Deubner, and Phillip Ying.

Come to visit us at The University of Montana. Have a free lesson and see how The University of Montana can fit into your college plans.

UM Violin and Viola Studio accomplishments:

UM violin and viola students win graduate teaching assistantships and large scholarships to prestigious graduate schools. They’ve won competitions and they have been accepted into prominent summer programs.  Some current students and alumni hold leadership positions in orchestras around the region, and some graduates are successful public school teachers.

  • Graduate assistantships at Ohio State University (viola performance), Northwestern University (violin performance) 
  • Acceptance into San Francisco Conservatory (viola performance), Cincinnati Conservatory (violin performance), New England Conservatory (violin performance), Northwestern University (violin performance), Eastman School of Music (violin performance), Oberlin Conservatory (violin performance),  Colorado State University (music therapy Master’s degree) 
  • Third place in the National MTNA Chamber Music Competition
  • Finalist in the National MTNA Solo competition
  • Divisional finalist in the MTNA Chamber Music competition
  • Divisional Finalist in the MTNA Solo competition
  • Second Place in the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Concerto competition
  • Summer program acceptance to Aspen, Brevard Music Festival, and Round Top Festival, Marrowstone Fellowship
  • Assistant Concertmaster of Spokane Symphony after graduation
  • While in college: assistant concertmaster of Helena Symphony, principle second violin of Missoula Symphony, associate principle second violin Missoula Symphony, concertmaster of Butte Symphony

UM Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Theater just won third place in the National Opera Association's Opera Production Competition!  

Margaret Nichols Baldridge

Professor Violin and Viola


Personal Summary

Dr. Margaret Nichols Baldridge, combines an extensive and diverse performance calendar with an active teaching schedule both in the United States and abroad.  These performances include concerts, master classes, festivals, and tours with The Sapphire Trio, and as Leader of the String Orchestra of the Rockies, concertmaster of the Missoula Symphony and as professor of violin and viola at the University of Montana.     

The Sapphire Trio has performed in Bogata, and Medellin, Colombia, Italy, Spain, Israel, Palestine, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Japan.  In April 2012 and 2010 Dr. Baldridge and The Sapphire Trio traveled to the West Bank of Palestine as judges on the international juries for the Palestinian National Music Competition.  While there in 2012, 2011 and 2010 the Trio performed and gave master classes in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Ramallah, The Golan Heights and the Galilee area of Israel.  Additional recent engagements with The Sapphire Trio included a seven-state US tour and concerts at the national conventions of ASTA, MTNA, AAMC, ICA and at The Mayo Clinic. During May of 2006 the Sapphire Trio were Cultural Ambassadors for a US State Department funded tour of Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait where the Trio performed concerts at US Embassies, schools, and for the Kuwait International Music Festival. Future engagements with the trio include concerts South America, and Paris. 

The violin and viola professor at The University of Montana since 1992, Dr. Baldridge is also a sought after teacher and adjudicator.  She maintains a large studio and her former students are successful professional musicians and teachers. Recently her students won the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition and were competitors at the National MTNA Solo string competition.   As a dedicated teacher and proponent of string teaching Dr. Baldridge incorporates educational outreach into her trio tours.  Additionally she served as the Montana State ASTA President and as a reviewer for the ASTA journal and the Guide to Teaching Strings 7th Ed.  As a member of MTNA she also served on the national One for All committee.

From 1998-2008 Dr. Baldridge was Artist Faculty at the internationally acclaimed Brevard Music Center Festival in Brevard, North Carolina, violinist with the Affetti Festival in Anchorage, Alaska and the Park City Beethoven Festival in Park City, Utah.  Her performances with the String Orchestra of the Rockies, and the Park City Beethoven Festival have aired on Public Radio.  And she can be heard on the String Orchestra of the Rockies CD recordings: Under the Northern Sky and We’ll Be Together Again with the Jeni Fleming Trio.


Dr. Baldridge holds DMA and BM degrees from The Eastman School of Music and an MM degree from Northwestern University.  Where she studied with  Catherine Tait, Gerardo Ribiero, and Charles Castleman.




Doctor of Musical Arts degree, Performance and Literature, Applied Violin, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York. May 1995.


Master of Music, Applied Violin, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, June 1988.


Bachelor of Music, Applied Violin, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, May  1987.


Major Teachers


Catherine Tait -     Eastman School of Music.

Gerardo Ribeiro - Northwestern University and Eastman School of Music.

Charles Castleman -Eastman School of Music.

Dorothy Walker -  Sioux City, Iowa.

Courses Taught

Courses Taught


Violin and Viola lessons for Undergraduate and Graduate Music Majors, Minors, and Non-Majors, University of Montana, Missoula, 1992-present. 


Violin and Viola Masterclass- weekly meeting, The University of Montana, Missoula 2001-present.


Strings in Class, upper strings, string methods course for Music Education majors, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


Pedagogy of Strings, methods and materials class for string performance majors, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992- present.


Chamber music coaching, string quartets, piano trios, string duets, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


Freshman Theory for Music Majors, University of Montana, Missoula, 1995- 1997


Aural Perception component of Music Theory, University of Montana, Missoula 1995-1998


The Language of Music, fundamentals of music theory for non-music majors, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992-1995.


Violin Methods,  Graduate Assistantship with Dr. Louis Bergonzi, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, 1991- 1992.


Assisted Anastasia Jempelis with the Suzuki pedagogy course, Pedagogy of Strings course and her private Suzuki studio, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, 1990-1992.


String Methods, all stringed instruments, Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa, 1988-1990. 


Suzuki/Rolland Pedagogy Class, assistant teacher for graduate and undergraduate string majors, Graduate Assistantship with Dr. Jack Pernecky, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1987-1988


Community Outreach


Music Theory classes for Talented and Gifted institute at University of Montana, Missoula, MT May 2010. 


Music Theory classes for Talented and Gifted classes, Missoula, MT several times throughout 2009-2010.


Organizer of the University of Montana High School Orchestra Festival., Missoula, Montana, 1998-present.


Organizer of the UM All-State String Workshop, University of Montana, Missoula,.


Editor of Montana String Teachers Association newsletter.  1996-1998


Acting Editor of Montana String Teacher's Association newsletter.  Fall and Winter issues, 1994.


Delegate from Missoula Symphony to Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras, 1994-1996.


Co-organizer for Montana All-State Festival held on the University of Montana campus, October 1994.


Faculty Advisor for Mu Phi Epsilon Music Fraternity, University of Montana, Missoula, 1993-1994.


Member of the Music, Worship, and Spirituality Commission at the First United Methodist Church, Missoula, Montana, 1993-2000


Lead sectional rehearsals for Missoula Youth Symphony first violin section, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


Private violin and viola studio for adults, high school, and middle school students, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


Adjudicator at local and statewide solo and ensemble contests, district festivals, Montana, 1992-present.


Teaching Experience

University/College Teaching Positions


Professor of Violin/Viola, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


Secondary Violin Instructor, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, 1990-1992.


Director of The Salsbury Community School of Music and Instructor of Violin and Viola and String Methods, Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa, 1988-1990. 


Violin Instructor Graceland College, Lamoni, Iowa, 1989-1990.





      We’ll be together again, with the Jeni Fleming Trio and the String Orchestra of the Rockies,  2006 release.


      Under the Northern Sky with The String Orchestra of the Rockies.  2001 release.


      RCA Red Seal recording of James Galway with the Eastman Philharmonia, Rochester, New York, 1985


Professional Organization Membership


      President Montana American String Teachers Association 2004-2006


      President-Elect - Montana American String Teachers Association, 2002


Music Teachers National Association.  1996- present.


Montana Music Teachers Association.  1996- present.


Missoula Music Teachers Association.  1996- present.


College Music Society.  1994-2002


ATMI. 1995


American String Teachers Association.  1980-1983, 1992-present.


Suzuki Association of the Americas, 1980-present.


Music Educators National Conference, 1983-1987, 1991-present.


Montana String Teachers Association, 1992-present.


Iowa Music Teacher's Association.  Des Moines, Iowa, 1988.


Sigma Alpha Iota, Women's fraternity in the field of music, Office of Vice President, Eastman  School of Music, Rochester, New York.  1985-1987.


Sigma Alpha Iota, Alumni chapter, Rochester, New York, Social Advisor to Eastman School College Chapter, 1990-1992.

Specialized Skills

Conference Presentations


      The Sapphire Trio: concert and lecture presentation, The International Clarinet Association, Baton Rouge, LA.  July 2014. 


      The Sapphire Trio performed at the Mayo Clinic, as part of the National Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Rochester, MN October 2007


      The Sapphire Trio Premiered “Medical Records”   by Charles Nichols at the National Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Seattle, WA October 2006


      The Sapphire Trio: National ASTA Conference, March 2006, Kansas City, Kansas.


      The Sapphire Trio: International Clarinet Festival, July 20, 2005,  Tama, Japan


      The Sapphire Trio: National MTNA Conference, April 2005,  Seattle, Washington.  Collaborative Arts Master Class, and session.


The Sapphire Trio: Montana Music Teachers Association State Conference Guest Artists, June, 2001, Bozeman, Montana


The Sapphire Trio: Montana Music Teachers Association State Conference Guest Artists, June 2000 Missoula, Montana.


The Sapphire Trio: Montana/Idaho Clarinet Festival 1999, Missoula, Montana


The Sapphire Trio: Alabama Clarinet Festival-University of Montevallo, 1998, Montevallo, Alabama

Professional Experience


Chamber Music Concert Series

The Sapphire Trio at Steinway Gallery, Spokane, Washington, October 2013

The Sapphire Trio, Shoshone County concert series and school outreach, May 2013.

Sapphire Trio Sabbatical tour.  Performed in Washington, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona at University and College recital series.  Spring    2008.  .

          Mineral County Performing Arts Council, concert with the Montana Piano Trio, May 14, 2009 Superior, MT.

Sioux City Chamber Music Association concert, With the Sapphire Trio, April 19, 2009.

          Dillon Concert Association, concert with the Sapphire Trio, November 17, 2008, Dillon, MT.

          Columbia Basin College Foundation, Concert with the Sapphire Trio, March 1, 2008

          Hamilton Performing Arts Series, Jeni Fleming Trio and the String Orchestra of the Rockies, December 15, 2006.

          International Concert Committee Concert, May 17, 2006.  Dharan, Saudi Arabia.

          Camerata Musica, November 20, 2004 Richland, Washington  Guest Artist 2004-2005 Series

          Kootenai Heritage Council, Friday, April 23, 2004 Libby, Montana

          Univ. of Montana, Faculty and Guest Artist Series April 25, 2004  Missoula, Montana

          Eastern Washington Univ., Faculty and Guest Artist Series May 10, 2004  Cheney, Washington

          Keller Hall Guest Artist Series, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  March, 2001

          University of Montana Faculty Artist Series 1998-2003

     Professional Experience, Ensemble


      Affetti Music Festival, violinist in chamber music and chamber orchestra. Anchorage, Alaska.  August, 2010.


      Concertmaster of the Montana Lyric Opera Orchestra, 2008-present


      Artist Faculty, The Brevard Music Center, Brevard, North Carolina, summers 1998-2007


      Violinist, The Sapphire Clarinet Trio, 1997-present


      Violin 1, Flathead Festival Orchestra, Whitefish, Montana, summer 1995-1997.


      Concertmaster, Missoula Symphony Orchestra, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


      Violinist, The Montana Piano Trio, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


     Leader and Violinist, Concertmaster The String Orchestra of the Rockies, Missoula, Montana, 1992-present.


     Violin 1, Corning Philharmonic Orchestra, Corning, New York, 1990-1992


     Violinist for studio orchestra, Johnny Mathis Concert, Syracuse, New York, December, 1991.


     Violin 1, Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, Des Moines, Iowa, 1988-1990.


     Violin 1, Des Moines Brandenberg Ensemble, Des Moines, Iowa, 1988-1990.


     Violin 1, Des Moines Metro Opera Orchestra, Indianola, Iowa, 1988 and 1989.


     Solo recital. Sioux City Chamber Music Association, Sioux City, Iowa, November 1989.


     Heidelberg Castle Festival Opera Orchestra, Heidelberg, West Germany, July- September 1989, July- September 1987, July- September  1986.


.    Freelance Violinist for commercial work for radio and television, SOUND IDEAS, INC.  Sioux City, Iowa, 1983.


     Violin 1, Sioux City Symphony Orchestra.  Sioux City, Iowa, 1980-1983

International Experience

International Tours/ Performance and Teaching


      The Sapphire Trio:  Concert in Madrid, Spain.  December 2013. 


      The Sapphire Trio: Concert in Assisi, Italy, International Clarinet Festival, Assisi, Italy.  July 2013.


      The Sapphire Trio in Palestine and Israel, Performed and taught in West Bank, Palestine and Israel, Golan Heights and the Galilee area. 2011, 2012. 


      Member of International String Jury for the Palestinian National Music Competition.  Edward Said National Music Conservatory, Jerusalem.  April 2010, and 2012.


      The Sapphire Trio in Palestine and Israel, Performed concerts and taught in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah.  April 2010.


      The Sapphire Trio in Ireland, performed at the Bealtaine Festival in Limerick, and researched Irish trio music at the Contemporary Irish Music Center in Dublin. May 2008


      “The Sapphire Trio:  American Women in the Arts” tour to the Arabian Peninsula,  Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait.  US State department tour.  May 11-23, 2006


      The Sapphire Trio: International Clarinet Festival concert, July 20, 2005  Tama, Japan.


      The Sapphire Trio: Kumamoto/Montana Sister State relationship concerts, July 23, 2005.  Kumamoto Prefecture Hall, and Kumamoto Montana Club concert.  Kumamoto, Japan.


      The Sapphire Trio: Tour to Austria and Germany, May 2003.  Concerts in Vienna area:  Oberpullendorf,  Wiener Neustadt, Hausleiten, and Neckargemund, Germany.


      The Montana Piano Trio: Tour to Vienna and Neckargemund with The Montana Piano Trio, May 2000. 


      The Montana Piano Trio: Hochschule fur Musik Wien, and Stadtliche Musikschule, Neckargemund,  Taught violin lessons and coached chamber music,  May 2000.