About Us


3 Strings will enrich the quality of life for countless people by teaching them to play music regardless of age or ability.


Our mission is to train musicians how to adapt instruments and music to create 3 Strings ensembles worldwide.

Guiding Principles

  1. Everyone deserves equal access to create meaningful music throughout their lifetime.
  2. Instruments, music and leadership adapt to the needs of the individual.
  3. Each individual is able to choose their own music, to play alone or with others.


The 3 Strings Method was developed to serve high school students with developmental disabilities so they can have a school music ensemble like their neurotypical peers. Guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, drums and musical notation were adapted to serve the individual needs of these students. Our 3 Strings ensembles have performed with and without their neurotypical peers numerous times, including at the 2019 National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) conference in Orlando and at Minneapolis’ pride and joy – Orchestra Hall.

In 2021 3 Strings formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to train any musicians in the method with the hope to bring the joy of playing instruments to countless in-need students.

“With 3 Strings, students with special needs can make music, be proud of it, sound good, and take it anywhere they want to go – just like anybody else.”

– Ruth LeMay, Founder


Ruth LeMay

Founder & Executive Director

Ruth LeMay is a K-12 urban music educator, university professor, disability advocate, inclusion protagonist, and President and founder of 3 Strings, Inc (3strings.org), a non-profit organization committed to making instrumental music playing a reality for all.

Ruth’s remarkable career spans over three decades in music education and covers a wide spectrum of musical domains including: guitar, pop music, handbells, music theory, adapted music, choir, and band, catering to musicians of all ages.

Ruth holds degrees from the University of South Dakota and University of MN in Music Education and Choral Conducting, respectively.. Ruth holds Orff Certifications, and is an allied professional in neurological music therapy (APNMT) from the Academy of Neurological Music Therapy in Toronto, Ontario. Ruth embodies a fusion of academic knowledge and practical experience.

Ruth’s passion for inclusivity led her to create the groundbreaking adaptive music methodology, 3 Strings. 3 Strings Methodology transliterates western music notation into iconic music literacy using a three tiered system that enables differently abled people to engage with instrumental music at a level that meets their abilities. Ruth’s influence extends beyond the K-12 classroom as she actively contributes to the field of music education as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, teaching Adaptive Music education. Ruth willingly shares her knowledge across the nation lecturing about inclusion and equal access. Moreover, her service as the NAfME Upper Midwest Regional Representative for the National Council of Guitar Education, Member-At-Large for NAfME Collegiate Advisory Council and recently elected Vice President of Secondary Ensembles for Minnesota Music Education Association (MMEA), underscore her leadership and commitment to advancing new platforms in music education.

Ruth’s vision as a conductor has led her 3 Strings band, Emergence, on multiple out of state tours. Emergence has performed across the country from Orlando to Los Angeles, CA making music and providing anyone listening an education in the joys of adaptive music ensembles.

Ruth’s work was recognized in Soundboard magazine’s Fall 2022 issue, where she shared insights on “Creating Music for a Neurodiverse Population.” In Ruth’s words, “everyone deserves a chance to make music.”

Board of Directors

Matthew Culloton

Artistic Director The Singers; Choirmaster House of Hope

Liz Fronsoe

Phoenix Learning Xchange Coordinator, University of Minnesota

Tom Hedrick

Executive Director, Hairless Dog Brewing

Nathan Knoll

Financial Advisor

Sylvia Larson


Bridget O’Boyle


Paul Pirner

Co-Founder & COO, Hairless Dog Brewing Company

Albert Reed

Health Insurance Sales and Marketing

George Stagg

Lead Pastor Twin Cities Church

Betsy Treinen

CEO, Good People Branding

Awards and Recognition

Ruth LeMay

“Distinguished Dedication and Service to the Field of Guitar Education,” NAfME Council of Guitar Education


Ruth LeMay

North Central Division Representative for NAfME Council of Guitar Education


Ruth LeMay

Minneapolis Education Leadership Award (MELA)


Ruth LeMay

3 Strings, 3-Time Grant Recipient from Augustine Strings Foundation

Ruth LeMay

L’Etoile du Nord Award



Where can I learn more about the 3 Strings Method?

Register to attend in-person workshops in the summer of 2022 in Minneapolis, MN or Reston, VA, or a 2-day online intensive.

How much does it cost to equip a 3 Strings Ensemble?
For $5,000 you can equip an ensemble with acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboards and drums. Here’s a list of suggested instruments and where to buy them.


“...she has opened up the doors of possibility for these students to make music on their own or with other people.” Dr. Vigil outlines the many emotional and physical he’s seen in students participating in the 3 Strings program.

Dr. Kevin Vigil

Guitar and Music Theory Director

“3 Strings...takes students with special needs...and lets them play an instrument and fully express themselves in an environment where they can feel safe and happy...” Antonio has given of his time to help 3 Strings students like his brother.

Antonio Brooks
3 Strings Student Helper

“A friend of ours had a child on the spectrum who didn’t speak for the first few years we knew him. And then he got into Ruth’s program...” Paul shares why he is proud to have been asked to join the 3 Strings board.

Paul Pirner

Board Member

“This band is amazing and these techniques have brought so much joy into our home.” Lisa shares how her adult daughters - one suffering from joint pain and the other with special needs - have been able to experience the joy of music, thanks to 3 Strings.

Lisa S.