Teachers 2017


Alasdair Fraser ▪ André Brunet ▪ Evan Price
Hanneke Cassel ▪ Deby Grosjean ▪ Laura Risk ▪ Janette Duncan

Paul "Pazzo" Mehling ▪ Éric Beaudry ▪ Colin Cotter

Natalie Haas ▪ Eric Wright ▪ Paul Kowert

Nic Gareiss ▪ Erik Hoffman

Laura Cortese

Clay Ross

Cali McKasson

Ryan MaKasson


Brittany Haas ▪ Galen Fraser ▪ Cleek Schrey


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.

André Brunet grew up in Lacolle, in Quebec’s Montérégie region and was first drawn to music at a very young age. André’s first love was for the violin and, at the age of nine, he began taking lessons. Along with his brother Réjean, he created Les Frères Brunet and went on to record several albums and perform at various concerts around the world.

In 1997, André’s unwavering energy and refined style earned him a spot with La Bottine Souriante. André remains immersed in traditional music, and is currently playing with Pierre-Luc Dupuis and Éric Beaudry in the group De Temps Antan. Today his passion for traditional Quebec music continues to pave the way for dance and swing enthusiasts the world over—a true journey of musical discovery.

Evan Price is steadily becoming one of the most respected jazz violinists of his generation. A native of Detroit, MI, his musical background includes some earnest dues-paying in a variety of genres. He also performed with some of the masters of fiddle lore—Stephane Grappelli, Johnny Frigo, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher, and Vassar Clements—as well as a diverse array of pop icons from Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to comedian, Steven Wright.

Evan is a ten-year veteran of the world-renowned, paradigm-shifting jazz ensemble, the Turtle Island Quartet. Since 1998, Evan has been proud to call himself a member of The Hot Club of San Francisco, perhaps the most venerable gypsy jazz band in the US.

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.

Hanneke Cassel works together with Laura Risk to give the students in the Slow Class the best experience imaginable. She is a performer whose energetic and expressive playing encompasses the full range of emotion. She is in demand as a player for Scottish Country dance, because the energy of her playing puts springs in the dancers’ feet. Hanneke, who was US Scottish Fiddling Champion in 1997, has incorporated her love of Scottish music, including the Cape Breton style, into her own unique style. A prolific composer, her tunes range from wild exuberance to poignant lyricism. Hanneke has performed and conducted workshops all around the world as well as throughout the US. Her teaching style combines great enthusiasm and humor with a serious focus on making sure students are learning effectively.

With Laura and Hanneke to guide you, you will find that the Slow Class provides you with inspiration to last throughout the coming year, as well as the tools to move you along your musical path.

Deby Benton Grosjean
is a highly talented violinist who has steeped herself in Celtic music. In addition to performing and recording, Deby has built a strong reputation as a teacher, especially for her skill in working with young fiddlers. She teaches and assists in running two Celtic Music Camps, one for teens and one for children, and she has taught basic beginning fiddling for kids at VOM for many years. In Deby's hands, children build technical skills that will form a strong foundation for whatever style they choose to develop. At the same time, Deby’s sense of fun and gentle support will foster a love for music and a desire to develop their ability to play.

Janette Duncan
attended the very first session of VOM in 1984 and has been a constant companion on its journey ever since. During this time she became a fiddle teacher herself and developed a strong contingent of students, many of who have come to VOM. Janette proved to be an excellent teacher for adults who want to begin learning fiddle. She works with those who perhaps have never held a fiddle before, bringing them within the week to be able to play a tune for the rest of us. If you have wished you had studied violin as a child, but thought that time had passed, think again. Janette can open the door for you to a new music-filled life.


Guitar classes are designed for those who already have a knowledge of basic chords on the instrument and the ability to change chords with some facility. There are no beginning classes in guitar.

Paul "Pazzo" Mehling, the leader of HCSF, Le Jazz Hot, and the Ivory Club Boys, has been dubbed the godfather of American gypsy jazz. He discovered the music of Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in grammar school, and decades later the music that took root in his young soul finally bore fruit.

Critics have noted that the music of Mehling and the HCSF owes as much to 52nd Street as gypsy jazz, a characterization Mehling doesn’t dispute. “We have a swing or die approach to the music that’s distinctly American. We’re trying to challenge the tendency to slavishly imitate Django’s style, without watering down the gypsy tradition or diluting the music.”

Éric Beaudry was first exposed to traditional Quebec music in Saint-Côme, a village in Quebec’s Lanaudière region. Raised by a family entrenched in music, he began singing and playing guitar at the age of 10. In 1992 he founded La Galvaude, followed-up later by Ni Sarpe Ni Branche and Norouet. Éric’s passion for music also helped foster an interest in song, which led to several awards including a 2002 Prix Mnémo for his role in producing the album Musique gaspésienne, featuring violinist Édouard Richard. In 2003, hot on the heels of this success, Éric became a member of La Bottine Souriante. Éric’s love of music also spurred a passion for enlightening others and, following the completion of a Bachelor of Arts in pop guitar and jazz, Éric began teaching traditional music at Joliette’s CEGEP régional de Lanaudière in 2002. Wherever he performs, Éric’s rich vocal range and unquestionable talent on stringed instruments—guitar, mandolin and bouzouki—guarantee a rousing performance for all.

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.


Natalie Haas began performing with Alasdair Fraser when she was in high school, continuing to do so while studying cello at Juilliard. Since she began teaching at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and VOM in 2002, various music camps and festivals have been eager to engage her, and she has been recognized in her own right. Her album with Alasdair, “Fire and Grace,” was named Scots Trad Music Album of the Year for 2004. She and Alasdair followed that with a second duo album, “In the Moment”, containing mostly original tunes, including Natalie’s tune, “Between”. Natalie’s powerful and rhythmic playing make it easy to understand why Alasdair says, “In 18th century Scotland, the fiddle and cello were the dance band of choice.”

In Natalie’s class you will learn bowing techniques, ornamentation, bass lines and rhythmic techniques to suit the style and mood of a variety of music, including the tunes the fiddlers are learning.

Eric Wright picked up the cello at age seven and began his musical career as a classically trained musician while also accompanying his father, an Irish and Old Time American fiddler, on cello, guitar, and other instruments.

Eric attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied folk styles with Eugene Friesen, Mark Simos, Natalie Haas, and John McGann. After college Eric joined the multi-award winning group, The Fretless, and has been touring Canada, the US, and Europe ever since.

Eric teaches cello, guitar and banjo at many music camps, including the Goderich Celtic College; he also works as a composer/sound designer for film, and is a dubstep producer for APM publishing in Los Angeles.

Piano Classes

Piano classes are designed for those who already have a knowledge of basic chords on the instrument and the ability to change chords with some facility. There are no beginning classes in piano.

Cali McKasson has performed with fiddle greats Alasdair Fraser, Andre Brunet, Laura Risk, and Hanneke Cassel. "[Her] keyboards are dynamically percussive and evocative." (The Boston Globe) "Throughout the album the fragile piano playing of Cali McKasson . . . lovingly calms the thunderous attack of her bandmates." (Whisperin' and Hollerin')


Clay Ross is a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and songwriter based in NYC. He has released 5 albums as a leader through the acclaimed labels Ropeadope Records and Motéma Music. His music covers a wide range of styles including rock, pop, jazz, funk, folk, world, blues, and bluegrass.

After receiving a BFA in composition from the University of Charleston, Ross became an integral part of the South Carolina jazz scene and relocated to NYC in 2002. In 2005 he became a member of Cyro Baptista’s world renowned percussion ensemble “Beat the Donkey,” with whom he toured regularly until 2009 before joining Canadian folk star April Verch from 2009 to 2012. In 2006 he was honored as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador and has since represented the U.S. as a cultural ambassador on tours to Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Turkey, Belfast, The U.K., Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Brazil. Clay Ross is currently performing at concert halls and music festivals around the world as a solo artist and leading his pan-american roots music band “Matuto.”


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.


Laura Cortese: abundantly talented as a singer dancer and fiddler, Laura will be leading and coordinating singing classes this year. She puts her own spin and rhythms on traditional and contemporary songs, deftly strumming, plucking and chopping her fiddle behind her rootsy voice. Cortese's Irish American grandmother first handed her a fiddle at the age of 4. Eight years later, she discovered folk music in what seems like an unlikely place, the bustling metropolis of her hometown San Francisco. "I found an exceptional community of singers, musicians and dancers at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp," she says. "People from age 2 to 80 that just love making music together. It's strange to say, but I think that was the year I decided that music was IT."

In 1999, Cortese moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. Over the next few years she played in several bands including fiddle trio Halali formed with two childhood friends. "I had never really sung solo on stage before Halali. I realized songs are an amazing way to connect to an audience." In an apartment across the street from Berklee College, Cortese set out to record her debut album Hush in 2002 (re-released on Jar productions 2004). Hush showcases 12 tracks of pop-inspired arrangement that captures the raw sincerity of traditional Celtic music.


Nic Gareiss, who has mesmerized VOM participants and audiences at the VOM concerts for the past few years, will be teaching dance class once again. He uses an interpretive, free-form, percussive style to create music with his feet. When Nic dances with a musician, one witnesses a musical dialogue as engaging as that between any two musicians. In dance class, Nic will offer you a type of step dancing that can lead you into new, expressive territory.

Erik Hoffman spends his time calling Old-Time Country Dancing, playing music (fiddle, guitar, voice, mandolin, bodhran, and other odds and ends), and tutoring math. He also loves leading dances for families and children.