Senior Instructor


  • Find Me On:

  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Senior Instructor
    • Honors Faculty
  • Concentration:

    • Piano
  • Department:

    • Music, University Honors Program, and Women's Studies & Gender Research
  • Education:

    • University of California Santa Barbara
    • Northwestern University


Denise Favela Apodaca received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a minor in Spanish. She later received her Master of Music in Piano Performance and a second Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Northwestern University. She graduated with honors from both universities.

She has been on the teaching faculties of The Chicago Academy for the Arts where she was director of Instrumental Studies, Sherwood Conservatory of Music, DePaul University, Pasadena City College, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, and Front Range Community College. She served as a Board member for Beet Street in Fort Collins, Colorado. She founded and directed the Chicago Young Instrumentalist Program, served on the Leadership Council, was director of Early Childhood Programs, director of Class Piano, chair of Group Instruction and chair of the Piano Dept. at Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois. She served as district coordinator for the California Association for Professional Music Teachers. Denise has performed through-out the United States as a soloist and as a chamber musician. Demonstrating her expertise of Latin American music, she has given several concerts in Mexico. She has been an adjudicator for several area music teachers associations and has given several workshops on piano technology, piano pedagogy, piano performance, and early childhood music. She serves on the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County and was the Spanish community health educator at UC Health and Bright Beginnings in Larimer County, Colorado for over five years.

Denise is currently Director of Student Success at the Graduate School, Piano Proficiency coordinator and Women's Studies Affiliate Faculty at Colorado State University where she also serves on several committees and has received the numerous awards.

Honors Faculty - University Honors Program
Faculty who Teach Honors Seminars. The key to an outstanding education and a superb program is to maximize the professional interactions among faculty and students.

Recent Activity:
Honors Professor of the Year Colorado State University 2019-2020
College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Service Award
College of Liberal Arts 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award
Colorado State University 2016-2017 Best Teacher Award

Grammy Music Educator Award Nominee

College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Undergraduate Mentorship Award Nominee

Multicultural Staff and Faculty Network Distinguished Service Award Nominee

Career Impact Award Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year Nominee

Nationally Certified Teacher of Music Music Teachers National Association (NCTM)
Distinguished Honorary Member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS)
Professor of the Month National Residence Hall Honorary
Master Teacher of the Year Nominee Front Range Community College

Director of Student Success Graduate School
Executive Committee Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring (GCIM)

Advisory and Cultural Committee Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring

Graduate Center for Diversity and Access (GCDA) Faculty Mentor

Faculty Council Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Council for Gender Equity on the Faculty (CoGen)
College of Liberal Arts Non-Tenure Track Advisory Committee

National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD)

Latino Alumni Association of Northwestern University (LANU)

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC)

Faculty Advisor Kids Do It All Todos Santos, Mexico 

CSU The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) Credit Recovery Course Redesign Committee

School of Music, Theatre and Dance Undergraduate Music Curriculum Committee; Recruitment and Retention Committee
M.A. and M.F.A. Graduate Dissertation Committees
March to Education Honorary Presenter
Faculty Advisor MEDLIFE, Friends of Palestine, Mosaic A Capella, Africans United, Generation Outreach, BASSIC A Capella, Sigma Tau Gamma, Omani Students Association; CSU Sigma Alpha Iota chapter Distinguished Member

First Generation Story


  • Piano Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators

  • Exploring World Music

  • Theory Fundamentals

  • HONR 192 World Music Explorations

  • HONR 193 Telling the Story: How Music Influences Society