Due to COVID-19 our offices have migrated to tele-work. For questions, please email the Academy at academy@gmu.edu. All private lessons and some classes are now online. Unfortunately, some classes have been canceled. Please check your email for details and updates. We thank you for your patience and understanding. Stay well everyone!

Viola Bootcamp

Summer 2020 registration is open!



Viola Bootcamp is a rigorous, supportive program for intermediate viola students focused on building a healthy technical foundation. Led by Academy string faculty and guest artists, the week includes private lessons, viola ensemble, supervised daily practice, fundamentals and scales classes, workshops on practice techniques and audition strategies, and masterclasses. Students ages 10-18 are grouped according to age and playing level. A final performance completes the program. Come celebrate the viola!

Note:  Audition video is required for this program (see below).


Ages:  10–18 years
Dates:  July 13-17, 2020
Times:  9 a.m.–4 p.m. (M-F)
Tuition:  $555 per week
Location:  Mason Community Arts Academy Building in Fairfax, VA
After Care option not available for this program

In the event of program cancellation due to COVID-19, a full refund will be issued.

Register Now



A short audition video submission, due June 29,  is required for this program to ensure proper placement. After registering for the program, please create an UNLISTED YouTube video link of your audition recording and email the URL link to academy@gmu.edu (ATT: Patrick LeStrange).  

Students, who are not accepted into the program, will be withdrawn before the credit card is charged on July 9. Final acceptance decisions will be made and students will be notified by July 3.





Philippe Chao, Viola LessonsPhilippe Chao
Read about Mr. Chao

Philippe is an adjunct professor of viola at The George Mason University School of Music as well as at Washington Adventist University and The Catholic University of America’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art. He coaches orchestral sectionals at Georgetown University and the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra and has been a coach for the DC Youth Orchestra Program and a faculty member of the American Festival for the Arts, the Eastern Music Festival, Montgomery College, and the Ovations Summer String Academy. He was a Guest Artist-Teacher for the State Department’s Artist Exchange Program at the Kennedy Center and has served as an adjudicator for the Catholic University Young Musicians’ Competition, the Asian American Music Society’s annual String Competition, and the Dorothy Farnham Feuer Memorial Scholarship Competition. Recently he was a guest lecturer at the Mason Community Arts Academy’s Viola Boot Camp.

Appointed acting assistant principal violist during his 20th season with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Mr. Chao has performed as an extra musician with the National, Detroit, and Baltimore Symphonies and was previously the assistant principal violist of the Virginia Symphony. He is a longstanding member of the Post-Classical Ensemble and the Grand Teton Music Festival and is on the faculty of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.

As a concerto soloist, Mr. Chao has appeared with the Newark Symphony Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and has appeared as the featured soloist with the Fairfax Choral Society at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Other appearances have included performances with the orchestras of Georgetown University, Catholic University, and George Mason University.

As a chamber musician and recitalist, Mr. Chao has performed with renowned international artists such as James Buswell, Nathaniel Rosen, Simone Porter, Susan Platts, the Coull Quartet, and Julian Rachlin and with numerous chamber music societies including The Pressenda Chamber Players, Musica Aperta, the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Music Series at the United States Holocaust Museum, and the Czech and Ukrainian Embassies’ series. Other appearances have included performances at the Supreme Court, the Garth Newell Music Center, Music Mountain, and Oxford University, UK, and recent NPR Broadcasts for Performance Today hosted by Fred Childs. He performed on Broadway in Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Tony-nominated musical, Bright Star.

Reflecting his continuing interest in expanding the viola repertoire, Mr. Chao has set and edited several works of Marco Anzoletti (1867-1929) in their premiere editions, published by Gems Music Publications. He is currently awaiting the delivery of a commissioned work dedicated to him by the Russian composer, Sergey Akhunov.

Earning degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Mr. Chao also studied at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeborough, England and at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His mentors include Roland and Almita Vamos, Michael Zaretsky, Gérard Caussé, Donald McInnes, and Robert Vernon.





Director/Instructor: Dr. Patrick LeStrange 

Violin/Viola Teaching ArtistViola Ensemble Director: Caitlin Renner


Instructor: Helen Fall 
Read about Ms. Fall
Helen Fall performs as a free-lance chamber musician and orchestral player on viola and violin throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Helen is a member of the Alexandria and Fairfax Symphonies. She has played in many other orchestras throughout the Washington, D.C. area, including the National Gallery and National Chamber Orchestras and Prince William and Arlington Symphonies. Helen was principal viola of the Arlington Symphony for 20 years, performing as a soloist with the orchestra in 1992.

Helen teaches viola and violin privately in her home studio in Fairfax, VA. Her students have won numerous awards in area competitions, and many have gone on to pursue music performance and music education degrees at major schools of music, including Cleveland Institute of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, the Colburn School of Music at University of Southern California, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, University of North Texas, and Belmont University. A number of her former students are currently pursuing careers in music performance – in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and as soloists, composing and arranging, studio recording, music therapy, and string teaching – privately, and in public schools.

Helen is actively engaged as a freelance teacher and sectional coach in schools and youth orchestras throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. She also serves as an adjudicator for orchestra festivals, solo festivals, and music competitions.

Active as a member of the Virginia chapter of the American String Teachers Association, Helen served on the VASTA board from 2004-2010. She served as VASTA’s president 2006-2008.

Helen is honored to have received awards for her work in music education, including VASTA’s Distinguished Service Award (2008), the National State Chapter Leadership Award from the American String Teachers Association (2009), the Barbara Serage Award for Music Education from the Fairfax Symphony (2010), and the VASTA award for Outstanding String Teacher of the Year (2010).





Full Camp List