Thank you for visiting our website! Central Texas String Academy has served the Greater Waco Area for over 30 years. We take great pride in our students' accomplishments and invite you to check us out.

What We Offer

CTSA specializes in individual instruction in violin, viola, cello, double bass, and classical guitar for students ages 3 through high school. Students also participate in group classes, string orchestra, and chamber ensembles.

Our Philosophy

CTSA incorporates the philosophies of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, who believed that every child can learn music when parents and teachers join hands in the teaching process. To learn more about the Suzuki approach, visit the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

How It Works

Beginning students receive both a 30-minute private lesson and a 30-minute group class (parents attend both). The academic year cost for beginners is 8 monthly payments of $135. More advanced students can register for either a 45-minute or 1-hour weekly lesson in addition to group instruction. Group concerts take place in December and May. Students also perform in solo recitals every spring. Private lessons can be continued in the summer.


All classes and most private lessons take place at the St. Alban's Outreach Center, 321 North 30th Street, Waco, TX 76710.

Orientation and Registration for New Families

Saturday, September 8, 2018, 10:00, at St. Alban's


Dr. Julia Hardie, CTSA Director, 254-644-6016

Dr. Sue Jacobson (violin; 254-644-9215)

Susan Whitney (violin and viola; 254-723-5159)

Dr. Mark Whitney (classical guitar and double bass; 254-495-5975)

Email: ctsawaco@gmail.com


2018–2019 Calendar

Go here to download a PDF of the calendar.

Fall 2018

  • Sunday, August 19: Teacher meeting: 3:00 p.m, CTSA, Rm. 1
  • Monday, August 20: Private lessons begin for returning students
  • Friday, September 7: Regular CTSA classes and orchestras resume
  • Saturday, September 8: New Student Orientation and Registration; 10:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 6: Waco Cultural Arts Festival, 11:00 performance (tentative)
    HS Region Auditions in College Station
  • Friday, October 19: FALL BREAK (no Friday classes)
  • Saturday, October 20: MS Region Auditions in Harker Heights
  • Saturday, October 27: All-State Auditions in College Station
  • Friday, November 2: Deck the Hall Holiday Market, 4:30, Waco Convention Center (replaces Friday classes)
  • Monday–Sunday, November 19–25: Thanksgiving Break, NO LESSONS or CLASSES
  • Friday, December 7: CTSA Winter Concert at Jones Hall, 4:30 p.m, McCrary Music Building, Baylor University
  • Saturday, December 8: Region Orchestra Clinic & Concert, Baylor

Spring 2019

  • Monday, January 7: Lessons and classes resume
  • Monday, January 21: MLK Day, No Classes, lessons as usual unless rearranged
  • Sunday, January 20: St. Alban’s Sacred Arts Concert (CTSA Chamber music)
  • Monday–Sunday, March 11–17: SPRING BREAK
  • Tuesday–Monday, April 16–22: EASTER BREAK
  • Friday, May 10: Dress rehearsal at Baylor, 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 11: CTSA Spring Concert at Baylor; 3:00 p.m.

The CTSA calendar contains two extra private lesson weeks per year (two semesters) that teachers may cancel without providing a make-up lesson.


Weekly Classes

4:30–5:00, PreTwinkle Violin
5:00–5:30, Early Book 1 Violin

4:30–5:00, Books 1-2 Viola
4:15–5:00, Books 1-2 Cello

4:30–5:15, Advanced Violin
4:30–5:15, Advanced Viola
4:30–5:15, Advanced Cello
4:30–5:15, Classical Guitar Bk1
5:30–6:15, Classical Guitar Bk2 up
5:30–6:15, String Orchestras


Make-up Lessons

CTSA teachers do not normally make up lessons unless the lesson was canceled by the teacher. Teachers may make exceptions to this policy at their discretion.


CTSA Founder and Director Dr. Julia Hardie is a Suzuki Association of the Americas viola teacher-trainer. She earned a doctorate in viola performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa under William Preucil, Sr., and has served on the faculties of New Mexico State University and Baylor University. She teaches at Suzuki institutes throughout the United States, often writes for the SAA Journal, and presents at workshops, where she is an advocate for starting viola study at an early age. Julia is also assistant principal violist of the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

Associate Director and violin teacher Dr. Sue Jacobson has been with CTSA since 1997. She is Concertmaster of the Temple Symphony, a member of the Waco Symphony and plays regularly with the Ft. Worth Symphony. Dr. Jacobson received the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, and completed the Master of Arts as well as the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Ohio State University. She has registered Suzuki Teacher Training through Book 2, as well as an Overview Bks 3-5 with John Kendall, and a technique Overview course with Louise Behrend.

Associate Director and violin teacher Susan Whitney has taught violin and viola at CTSA and its predecessor at Baylor University for over twenty-five years. She has also taught strings in the Waco ISD and the Baylor String Project and has long been active in chamber music for special occasions throughout the greater Waco area. Susan has performed with the Waco Symphony Orchestra and is a regular member (viola) of the Temple Symphony Orchestra in Temple, Texas. She holds a BME from Ohio University (1981), where she studied with Galamian protégé Howard Beebe.

Amanda Schubert has a bachelor's degree in violin performance from Oklahoma City University and a master's degree from the University Of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a teaching certificate from the Talent Education Institute, Matsumoto, Japan, where she studied with Dr. Suzuki. She is registered through the SAA in Suzuki violin books one through ten. Amanda was a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and has served on the violin faculty of the Brevard Music Center summer festival in North Carolina. She also performs with the Waco Symphony and Temple Symphony.

Karla West began her violin and viola training in Canada at age 5 through the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has a bachelor's degree in viola performance from Biola University and a Suzuki violin pedagogy certificate from the University of Denver. Karla has performed in Washington state with the North Sound String Quartet, Skagit Valley Opera, Starry Night Orchestra, and Saratoga Chamber Orchestra, and with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and Denver Philharmonic String Quartet. Karla has toured with the Canadian National Youth Orchestra and the Biola Honors Quartet.

Trevor Rybicki began teaching cello at the Central Texas String Academy in 2012, while still a freshman at Baylor University. Since then, he has successfully taught students from a wide variety of age groups and musical backgrounds. His students often become highly advanced for their ages, and have earned top chairs in both their school orchestras and the TMEA Region 8 orchestras. Trevor has received SAA certification for teaching the Suzuki method. He will graduate from Baylor in Fall 2015, with a Bachelor of Music Education degree.

Katie James grew up as a CTSA student, starting viola lessons under Dr. Hardie in 1995. She continued her music study at Baylor University, graduating in 2008. She has been teaching and taking teacher-training at CTSA since 2003. A violin and viola teacher, she has received Suzuki training through book 3 and has had experience teaching early childhood music. She directs Prelude Gloria, a service-oriented chamber music summer camp affiliated with CTSA. Katie has also enjoyed teaching and assisting in violin, viola and cello classes. She is a strong advocate of the significance of music in a child's life.

Dr. Mark Whitney is CTSA's instructor of classical guitar and double bass. He has been a member and sometimes principal of the double bass section of the Waco Symphony for over twenty-five years. He is also the WSO's personnel manager and program annotator. Mark is registered with the SAA for books one through three. He has been active in UIL and TAPPS judging. Mark holds degrees in English literature (University of the South), double bass (Ohio Univerwity), and music history (West Virginia University). In his spare time he is an editor for CORD, an educational publisher in Waco.

Christopher Bedoya is a cello performance major at Baylor University under the tutelage of Dr. Gary Hardie. Christopher enjoys a position playing as a section cellist for the Waco Symphony. He graduated from the Greenwich Suzuki Academy in Connecticut. During his education there, he took cello lessons from the director Heather Watson-Hardie and Dr. Nicholas Hardie.

Erica Photaides grew up in Michigan and started Suzuki violin lessons at the age of five. She holds a degree in Music Education from Michigan State University and is the 6th grade orchestra teacher for Midway ISD.