Fiddle Classes

Fiddle classes are scheduled in the morning and early afternoon and allow participants to study the various styles taught by each instructor. All tunes are taught by ear, and class divisions, ranging from advanced to those who have never played before, are based on students’ rate of learning by ear.

Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced; [his] name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance which is transforming the Scottish musical scene.” —Scots Magazine

The variety and expressivity of Alasdair’s playing is evident in his numerous recordings—from intimate fiddle/guitar duets, to a more contemporary interpretation of tradition, to high energy original tunes with his Skyedance band. Highly acclaimed albums include “Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vols. 1 and 2,” and “Fire and Grace, ” which was named Scots Trad Album of the Year for 2004. Most recently, “In the Moment” reveals his expanding interests and inspiration as both player and composer. In Alasdair’s class, you will learn a variety of Scottish tune types and how to use special bowings, Scottish ornaments and a rhythmic drive to make the tunes come alive and express their Scottish origins.

Lena Jonsson’s ability to balance a deep knowledge of traditional Swedish folk music with innovative artistic sensibilities, sparkling joy of life and a charisma of a rock-star have made her one Scandinavia’s most visionary musicians. She has created a unique style inspired by traditional Swedish music as well as rock, pop and american old-time and bluegrass traditions. Together with guitarist Erik Ronström and bassist Krydda Sundström they create a virtuosic yet playful trio. In April this year, the Lena Jonsson Trio won Artist of the year at the Swedish Folk awards. Their latest album ”Stories from the Outside” won both a Swedish Grammis and the Manifest prize in 2021 and Album of the year by LIRA Music Magazine and song of the year by Swedish radio. Lena Jonsson Trio released their third album ”Elements” in June 2023.

Laura Cortese: Berklee College of Music graduate Laura Cortese's highly-visible work as a supporting musician (fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Band of Horses, Pete Seeger, Rose Cousins, Uncle Earl and as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. With seven studio albums to her credit, Laura's Compass Records debut, "California Calling," is the next step in her career as a fiddler, singer, frontwoman and songwriter.  Her performances and recordings have garnered acclaim from BBC, fRoots, No Depression, the Boston Globe, the Denver Post,  and the Bluegrass Situation, among others. Her band, the Dance Cards, has twice served as U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, performing, presenting workshops, and collaborating with musicians in India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Estonia, Montenegro and Greece.

Laura teaches fiddle and singing internationally at Newcastle University in England, and University of Limerick in Ireland and has given fiddle, song, and dance instruction at many summer fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Fiddle School, Mark O'Connor's Nashville Fiddle Camp, the Sierra Fiddle Camp, and Folkworks Youth Summer School in Newcastle, UK.  Laura is also co-founder of the acclaimed Miles of Music Camp and BCMFest, a community festival organized by Boston-area musicians, singers and dancers. 


Laura Risk is a fiddler whose love of the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Quebec has led her into a rich journey of performing and teaching. Laura is known throughout the U.S. as an outstanding teacher, able to inspire students at any level. As evidenced in several highly praised albums, her playing is especially expressive and versatile, ranging from elegant music composed for 18th century Scottish drawing rooms to driving strathspeys and reels suitable for a Cape Breton dance floor. The eloquence of Laura’s fiddling is especially evident is her album of Scottish tunes, “2000 Miles,” To help fiddlers learn new tunes by ear, Laura has recorded two sets of CDs containing nearly 150 tunes from a variety of fiddle traditions, played slowly and at normal performance tempo.

Hanneke Cassel: with a career spanning over two decades, Hanneke Cassel has helped redefine what it means to be a modern fiddler. A driving force in the ever-changing landscape of acoustic music stylings, the Port Orford, Oregon native has established herself as a prolific composer, producer and fixture of the international music community.

The 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, Hanneke holds a Bachelors of Music in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music, where she has served as a guest instructor since 2009. Gracing stages across North America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and China, Hanneke blends the spirit of Scottish traditional fiddle with her own brand of originality, a unique sound drawn from her influences within the Boston Bluegrass/Americana community.

Described by the Boston Globe as “exuberant and rhythmic, somehow wild and innocent, [music] delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness,” it is Hanneke’s hugely generous presence and personality that round out her magnetism as a performer beyond the strings of her fiddle.


Janette Duncan (BA, Music) has benefited from both classical violin training and a fiddling heritage. Her grandfather was a fiddler and her dad a guitar player. Janette’s own fiddling has been particularly influenced and inspired by Bengt Johnson and Alasdair Fraser. She has herself inspired a great many players through her performances—as a member of the Bi-Coastal International Dance Band, Dockside and other ensembles—and her teaching, including beginning string classes in schools, a community college course she teaches on “Celtic Session Tunes,” and private instruction at home in Sonoma County, California. Her students are encouraged to learn to read and write music but also play the fiddle by “ear and heart.”


Caroline McCaskey started her musical journey as a fiddler, and has toured the U.S. as a member of contra dance band Stringfire! In 2019 she won the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Competition. She has also taught for many years at Fiddlekids Day Camp.

She completed her Master of Music in Viola Performance at Lamont School of Music, earning the Recital of Distinction the first violist in 17 years to do so. Aalong with her string quartet she also won Lamont’s 2012 chamber music competition. In 2009, Caroline was also a winner of University of the Pacific’s concerto competition, playing the first movement of the Walton concerto.

Caroline plays cello internationally as a substitute member of Scottish dance band Reel of Seven, and has been on staff teaching cello at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp.


Natalie Haas is in the vanguard of young cellists pushing the envelope of the cello while simultaneously carrying it back into the fold of traditional Celtic music. She has graced the performances and recordings of many renowned fiddlers, particularly Alasdair Fraser, with whom she has been performing in the US and Europe for several years. Since she began teaching at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and VOM in 2002, various music camps and festivals have been eager to engage her. Her recent album with Alasdair, "Fire and Grace," was named Scots Trad Music Album of the Year for 2004. Natalie's powerful and rhythmic playing make it easy to understand why Alasdair says, "In18th century Scotland, the fiddle and cello were the dance band of choice."

Brendan Hearn has been playing cello since he was seven years old, when his mother took him to Potter’s Violins to choose an instrument to try. He chose cello mainly because “it was bigger and louder than his sister’s violin.” He was classically trained but soon fell in love with Irish, Scottish, and American folk traditional music.

He and his siblings started attending weekly Irish sessions at the Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, MD. Those Sunday afternoons spent deciphering how to fluidly accompany traditional Irish tunes on the cello would be the start of Brendan’s passion for cello in traditional music.

Brendan and his siblings formed the band TriHearn, and in 2015 recorded an album displaying their years of experience in many different traditional styles. Brendan has since performed with dozens of groups across the United States as a freelance cellist. Brendan currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he enjoys joining other NY-based musicians in Prospect Park to jam, and frequently travels up and down the East Coast for various gigs, recording projects, and workshops.

Valerie Thompson: a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Valerie is a well-rounded musician who is comfortable in any playing situation. She divides her time between a very active cello studio, performing regularly with Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, writing music and performing with Goli (a Cello/Marimba/Vocal ensemble), and attending a plethora of weddings and events for C-Zone Music. Valerie grew up in Kansas City, MO and now resides in Central Square, Cambridge, MA.


Colin Cotter is a multi-instrumentalist who began fiddling at an early age as part of his family tradition in Finnish fiddle music, and eventually dove into Scottish fiddling. He is a self-taught guitarist, mixing influences from around the world, and his emotive songwriting bridges the gaps between American and Celtic folk, and rock.


Nic Gareiss has been hailed by the New York Times for his "dexterous melding of Irish and Appalachian dance" and called "the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. He re-imagines movement as a musical practice, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Originally from Michigan, Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions, weaving together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration.

He has concertized in fourteen countries for over ten years with many of the luminaries of traditional music, including Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Frankie Gavin, Dervish, Bill Frisell, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Phil Wiggins, Buille, Solas, Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes, The Gloaming and The Chieftains. Nic holds degrees in Anthropology and Music from Central Michigan University and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick. Gareiss' essay, "An Buachaillín Bán: Reflections on One Queer's Performance within Traditional Irish Music & Dance" appears in the book "Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance" edited by Clare Croft in Oxford University Press.

Summer McCall is a multi-genre musician and teacher whose primary focus is traditional celtic cello and fiddle.  She's in demand as a performer and instructor and has been featured at some of the premier music camps and festivals throughout the country such as Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp, Lark Camp and the KVMR Celtic festival for cello, fiddle and Scottish ceilidh dance calling.

Summer studied Cello Performance with a minor in Spanish at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. In 2010 she attended the Berklee College of Music five week Summer Program for folk cello, where she studied with professors such as John McGann and Mimi Rabson. Recently she co-created Ministry of Folk—a virtual music community platform developed to unite and support some of the greatest musicians in the traditional Folk scene today with events, services, and means of connection. 


Neil Pearlman: Multi-instrumentalist, stepdancer and host of podcast TradCafe, Neil Pearlman is a vital and distinctive voice in contemporary traditional music. Described as “a tremendous pianist” on BBC Radio Scotland and “a force to be reckoned with” by WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan, Neil is recognized in many Celtic music circles for his unique approach to the piano. Rooted in traditional Cape Breton piano styles, he adds jazz harmony and the syncopations of funk, Cuban, and Brazilian dance music to create a unique and infectious sound. It was this innovative style that led legendary Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland to say “watching Neil’s hands on the piano was like watching two spiders on crack!”

Today Neil's musical projects run the gamut from deeply traditional to refreshingly contemporary. He collaborates regularly with fiddlers Katie McNally, Alden Robinson, Galen Fraser, and Ed Pearlman. He also performs with the larger Afro-Celtic Funk band Soulsha and the quartet Fàrsan, mixing Gaelic song, stepdance, fiddle and pipes.


San Miguel Fraser is a project bringing together Galen Fraser, a Berklee graduate and son of renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Maria San Miguel, a native of Castile and graduate of Oviedo Conservatory with deep family roots in the traditions of her homeland. Together, they combine dynamic fiddling and string arrangements with the soaring, life-celebrating singing of Maria and the exciting, oh-so-sensitive cittern accompaniment of Galen. Surprises abound in this project, with fresh compositions and startlingly touching and deeply thoughtful arrangements. 


Ryan McKasson has gained a reputation as a performer, composer, collaborator, and teacher. In 1996 he was the youngest person to win the National Scottish Fiddle Championship. In 1997 he was awarded a Merit Scholarship for Viola Performance from the University of Southern California where he studied with Donald McInnes.


Cullen "Cujo" Luper is a San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist, performer, composer, & teacher whose interests range from Bach to Basie, Gow to Gershwin, Rameau to Reinhardt, & Fritz Kreisler to Fraser. It all started with Suzuki violin, classical piano, San Francisco Early Music Society camps, San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, Alasdair Fraser’s Music Camps, contradances, busking with my brother on the streets of San Francisco, & touring Ireland & Scotland. What did I learn? GROOVE! Got to GROOVE! 

Fast forward to now, I am studying Applied Composition and Technology at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In other words, composing video game and movie music and all the producing and audio tech stuff.  I am honored to play violin and piano weekly with Paul Mehling’s Le Jazz Hot, and be the violin alternate for the Hot Club of San Francisco. Whenever I get the chance I play with my fiddle camp buddies/heroes at festivals, weddings, dances, & gigs.

Raphaella Hero grew up knowing she would be a musician. She began playing at seven, eventually honing her skills at Berklee College of Music. Among her heroes are Van Morrison, Kenneth Grahame, Aretha Franklin, Jane Goodall and Alasdair Fraser.

"Playing the fiddle is wonderful because it starts conversations, is unmatched as a vehicle for storytelling, and has an uncanny knack for finding common ground between people from all over the world, enabling me to create friendships and seek truths wherever I go."

Galen Fraser and Maria San Miguel are multi-instrumentalists and educators who celebrate the values of community and traditional music in their unique chamber music style.

San Miguel Fraser is a project that will always stand for community, celebrating the joy of music and shared inspiration. The dynamic duo was born as a result of the 2020 quarantine with the “Stay At Home Festival”. Thanks to the beautiful and universal folk community, they raised over $60,000 with the aim of bringing light to the world, maintaining morale and financially helping musicians around the globe. The “Stay At Home Festival” family lives on today with San Miguel Fraser. 

“With violins, cittern and voices, the Castilian artist María San Miguel and the composer Galen Fraser, born in California and connected familiarly with Scottish and American folk, go up to the CAT stage for the first time, to present a project which connects them to the traditional music they understand as a social and cultural evolution. "For us the message is to show how we are, all cultures have traumas that have had to be overcome, it is what we have to accept, there are sad aspects but we must also celebrate it to keep moving forward," says the artist, a benchmark in the contemporary development of the new tradition of Castile. The two protagonists have an international projection and have performed in various concert halls, music cycles and festivals in Europe and the USA.” — L'independent

Deby Benton Grosjean combines the best of both the Celtic and classical music worlds in her playing and teaching. She’s experienced in teaching all levels and delights in exploring the adventures a new instrument brings for young beginners. Locally, she teaches with Community Music School and helped create Cabrillo Youth Music. Deby plays for several dance bands including Scottish Country “Reel of Seven”, with her local students Barn Dance “The Ginormous String Band” and Contra “Whoost”.

Deby’s film score credits include Ken Burns’ Not for Ourselves Alone. She records for Gourd Music and her own productions. Deby coaches dance combos in Canada, New Zealand and USA. Connection Magazine notes of her Beyond the Shore CD, “. . . will capture your heart and dance your feet.” She has published with Mel Bay and her own Fun Celtic Music Series with companion CD.