Our Faculty

Coleman Smith
Music Director

Coleman started playing the violin at 3 years old. In his youth Coleman traveled across the country studying various styles of fiddle music and competing in some of the nation’s most prestigious fiddle contests. Coleman was awarded a Presidential scholarship to the music department at Marywood University where he studied music performance and minored in music pedagogy. Coleman has a unique style that fuses Gypsy Swing, Jazz, Celtic, Bluegrass and Texas Fiddle, all from a classical perspective. 

Wise County, Texas Faculty

All of our faculty members are classically trained and certified.
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Austin Smith

Violin, Bass, Piano

Austin Smith is a Texas native and has been playing violin since age five. He earned his degree in violin performance at Marywood University in 2007 where he also began his teaching career alongside conducting several youth ensembles. Currently residing in Austin Texas he teaches roughly 40 students weekly and plays around town with a variety of ensembles falling within many genres including jazz, bluegrass, western swing, and klezmer.

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Julie Harris

Violin

Inspired by her fiddle playing grandfather, Julie began taking violin lessons at the age of 13 and has been playing violin ever since. While in high school Julie competed in a variety of fiddle contests throughout North Texas; she played violin with the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra, earning the privileged Concert Masters’ seat her senior year. During her junior and senior year, Julie participated in the UIL State Solo/Ensemble contest at the University of Texas at Austin, winning the highest level at state and earning a special award for Outstanding Performer. Julie attended college at the University of North Texas, and played violin with the North Texas Community Orchestra while completing her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and then her Master’s degree in Education. Julie has been the assistant violin teacher with the Wise County Youth String Ensemble under the conducting of Master Violinist, Coleman Smith. Julie is incredibly passionate about education and teaching young students how to play their first instrument.

Buena Vista, Colorado Faculty

All of our faculty members are classically trained and certified.
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Coleman Smith

Violin

Coleman’s love affair with the violin, started at the tender age of 3 at which time he began studying the Suzuki Violin Method. His mother Karen, a professional ballerina says Coleman has been responding to music since before he was born. Fostering his love of music, his parents bought him his first violin at the tender age of 3 at which time he began studying the Suzuki Violin Method. During his formidable years in the Suzuki Program, Coleman became one of the youngest people ever accepted to the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, eventually having solo performances with the Dallas Fort Worth Pops Orchestra. Coleman was awarded a full Presidential scholarship to the music department at Marywood University where he studied music performance and minored in music pedagogy graduating Cum Laude.

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Alex Johnstone

Mandolin

Alex started playing professionally while living in Crested Butte and it was here when he began rising to the top of the Colorado Mandolin scene. Alex toured with the high-intensity, progressive bluegrass band Spring Creek for over a decade before joining Colorado-based bluegrass group, Rapidgrass in 2014. Together with his band, Alex performs both nationally and internationally, headlining some of Europes largest Bluegrass Festivals. In addition, Alex has over a decade of experience leading both Mandolin and Guitar workshops for students of all ages. When Alex is not performing he enjoys teaching private lessons at Coletrain Music Academy and shredding trails on both his skis and mountain bike. 

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Bonnie Culpepper

Ukulele, Voice & Beginning Piano

Bonnie Lea Culpepper has a trained background in the classical styles of piano and voice. She also has a great love for Ukulele, which she taught herself to play at the age of 7. In school, her passion was performing Operatic pieces in many different languages and time periods. Her love of music has led her to become a touring singer/song writer in the styles of contemporary rock, folk, Americana, jam, bluegrass, jazz, and blues. As a passionate professional musician, Bonnie places utmost importance on creative musical freedom. She strives to bring the skills and knowledge to her students to provide a foundation for FUN with music.