Skip to Content

School of Music


Professor Terwilliger and student of violin

Strings

If you're a string student, you’ll have the benefit of some of the finest faculty and programs in the Southeast. Whether you're seeking a Bachelor of Music or Doctor of Philosophy degree, your opportunities at USC have no limits.

We offer a wealth of opportunities for string players at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Whether your interest is in solo performance, chamber music or full orchestral experiences, you will find quality programs at USC.

The USC Symphony Orchestra ranks with the finest university orchestras in the nation, and the USC Chamber Orchestra was featured in New York's Lincoln Center as a part of the Mozart Bicentennial Festival.

Experienced artists and teachers who have performed throughout the world provide instruction on all stringed instruments. The university also offers a wide range of performance opportunities and a variety of venues from lecture halls to world-class music halls.

USC’s String Project is a model of community service and teacher education for more than 30 other university programs across the country. Carolina students provide accessible string education and support school music programs while receiving valuable teaching experience. Qualified music education students may seek a performance certificate in addition to their bachelor of music education degree.

The American String Teachers Association’s South Carolina Cello Choir and Workshop rotates among the universities in South Carolina, including USC. Professionals, amateurs, teachers and students from around the region take part in this program, learning from renowned clinicians and music faculty.

The USC School of Music has an exceptionally large and active student chapter of American String Teachers Association, which has an enrollment of 20-25 string education and performance majors at undergraduate and graduate levels. Elected officers and a faculty adviser guide the chapter through various professional, service and outreach activities. These include fundraisers and benefit concerts that provide members with important leadership experience. Many of our student chapter members and string faculty are presenters, performers and panel members at the association’s national conference each year, and USC won the association’s Outstanding Student Chapter Award in 2008.

String Faculty

Gail V. Barnes

Gail V. Barnes

Gail Barnes is professor of music education and director of the USC String Project. She teaches stringed instrument methods and orchestra literature. Her research focuses on community and school orchestra programs and access to music education for under-served youth.

Christopher Berg

Christopher Berg

Christopher Berg is professor of music, directs the classical guitar program and was named a Carolina Distinguished Professor in 2008. In 2003, his former students created the Christopher Berg Endowment Fund, which annually presents an award to an outstanding undergraduate guitar student.

Craig Butterfield

Craig Butterfield

Craig Butterfield is associate professor of double bass and jazz studies and directs one of the largest double bass programs in the Southeast. Butterfield has performed extensively as a jazz artist as well as a classical soloist and clinician. He has toured with jazz trumpet player Maynard Ferguson.

Neil Casey

Neil Casey

Neil Casey is the assistant director of orchestras and teaches conducting, violin and chamber music. He also is conductor of the Armstrong Atlantic Youth Orchestra in Savannah, Ga. Casey conducts Opera at USC and the USC Campus Orchestra, an ensemble he created.

Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca Hunter teaches graduate violin pedagogy courses, applied violin lessons, chamber music, Suzuki violin private and group lessons and is the director of the Suzuki Strings at USC program. She is working to create a Master of Music degree in violin pedagogy.

Robert Jesselson

Robert Jesselson

Robert Jesselson is cello professor, a Carolina Distinguished Professor and 2012 Professor of the Year by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the Office of the Governor. He has performed around the world and is executive director of the National String Project Consortium.

Donald Portnoy

Donald Portnoy

Donald Portnoy directs orchestral studies, is a professor of violin and is universally recognized as one of America’s dynamic and inspiring conductors. He has been a guest conductor with major orchestras in several large U.S. cities and in a dozen countries. He holds the Ira McKissick chair for fine arts.

Daniel Sweaney

Daniel Sweaney

Daniel Sweaney is associate professor of viola. He has won prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Down Beat Magazine Chamber Music Competition, was a two time recipient of the Interlochen Arts Academy Fine Arts Award for Outstanding Performance in Viola. 

William Terwilliger

William Terwilliger

William Terwilliger is a violin professor and has conducted master classes throughout the world. He has performed with orchestras on five continents and is concertmaster of the Long Bay Symphony in South Carolina. He and pianist Andrew Cooperstock perform as Opus Two.