Robert Ritsema is a Professor Emeritus of Music at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he taught from 1967 to 2000. His first teaching position was in the Portage, Michigan schools; while there, he was also a member of the Kalamazoo Symphony. He was also the director of the Hope College Orchestra and the Hope College Symphonette and served many years as department chair and professor at the college.
After his retirement, Mr. Ritsema served as visiting conductor for various local orchestras and performing groups. He remains an active performing musician on the cello.
He is past president of the National School Orchestra Association, honorary life member of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, and served as president of the Michigan unit of the American String Teachers Association. He served two terms as vice-chairman of the national ASTA String Competition, was editor of the NSOA Journal, served on the editorial board of The American String Teacher, and his book on the history of ASTA was published by Theodore Presser, Inc. In 1995, he was named Michigan String Teacher of the year by ASTA.