Teachers 2018



Alasdair Fraser ▪ Anders Hall ▪ Laura Cortese
Hanneke Cassel ▪ Deby Grosjean ▪ Laura Risk ▪ Janette Duncan

Adam Johansson ▪ Colin Cotter

Natalie Haas ▪ Valerie Thompson ▪ Duncan Wickel ▪ Eric Wright

Nic Gareis ▪ Celia Ramsay

Moira Smiley

Jens Linell

Cali McKasson

Ryan MaKasson


Galen Fraser ▪ Jenna Moynihan

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.

Anders Hall comes from Arbrå, Hälsingland in Sweden. He plays the fiddle, viola and also the Hardanger fiddle, an instrument he studied at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway from 2006-2008. As a result he now has a unique knowledge of both Norwegian traditional music as well as his native Swedish.

He has established himself as a creative and gifted musician on the Nordic folk music scene, co-founding The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc and working with the likes of SVER & Sigrid Moldestad. He has an ability to reach the listener, fitting together old traditions with innovative ideas and expressions.

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. 

Hanneke Cassel's approach to music is aptly expressed in the title of her debut album, "My Joy." Alasdair Fraser characterized the album as "…fiddle music played with great stylistic integrity and personal flair…" Hanneke's second album, "Some Melodious Sonnet," released in 2004, contains a variety of her own compositions, some hauntingly melodic, others exuberantly energetic. Hanneke has immersed herself in the music of Scotland and Cape Breton for many years and has won three U.S. National Scottish Fiddling championships. She is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music.

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.

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.

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.”

Janette will teach the basic beginning fiddle class for adults who have little or no experience with the instrument.


Adam Johansson was brought up in Norrland in the north of Sweden and has been surrounded by music since childhood. He plays guitar and contributes a great drive to the music of Golbang. He studies Swedish folk music performance at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and can most likely be seen at every folk music festival in Sweden.

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.

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.

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.

Duncan Wickel: multi-instrumentalist Duncan Wickel, a former native of Asheville, NC, now lives and works in the heart of Boston’s thriving music scene. His reputation as a wildly diverse and highly accomplished improviser, composer and technician has grown quickly. He is sought after for his stylistic mastery of Jazz, Irish, Old Time and Bluegrass music, captivating audiences and fellow musicians with his creativity as well as the subtle authenticity and chameleon-like ease in which he blends and changes styles. 

Eric Wright is a 2017 JUNO Award winning cellist. Raised on pure Vermont air and inspired by his love for American Old Time and Irish music, he sets out to incorporate cello into new and traditional music in ways that haven't been done before. With his group, The Fretless, he takes his innovative bowing techniques, chording styles, and 'the chop', to new levels. Eric has become a highly sought-after performer, accompanist, producer, session musician, and arranger for all types of folk styles.

Eric has performed and recorded with numerous bands including Ruth Moody, Trey Anastasio, Natalie MacMaster, The Fretless, John Reischman, Mairi Rankin, and many others.

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')


Jens Linell is the percussionist with Swedish/Norwegian band Sver, a group of "self-proclaimed Scandinavian party musicians [who] bring together traditions from Norway and Sweden to brilliantly playful effect." While exploring the complexities of Swedish traditional music as a music student, he developed his unique style of tambourine playing.


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.


Moira Smiley: Singer/Composer Moira Smiley travels the world as a performer, song maker and song collector. Her earliest influences were American shape-note hymnody, Irish and Russian folksongs and the piano music of Bach, Bartók and Debussy. In her late teens, she began traveling to learn songs from traditional singers in the UK, Ireland and Europe.  She’s taken her voice, accordion and banjo around the planet on tours with indie rock sensation, tUnE-yArDs, Irish powerhouse, SOLAS, multi-grammy winning pianist/composer, Billy Childs, Juno-award winning Jayme Stone’s Lomax and Folklife Projects, premiere U.S. Balkan ensemble, KITKA, new and early music luminaries, Theatre Of Voices and The Lyris String Quartet. She’s become a well-known choral composer, with millions of singers singing her works worldwide. Recent premieres have been at LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, TED and The Savannah Music Festival.  She’s been featured on BBC Radio, NPR, PBS and ABC Australia's "Books & Art" program, and has received praise from Billboard to Gramophone for her voice and writing.


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.

Celia Ramsay has been calling Contra and family-friendly dances from Ukiah to Monterey since 2002. Her teaching is clear and concise, and her warm personality makes the dancers happy. Come to the evening dances to experience the sheer pleasure of movement and sense of community; no experience needed, and all ages are welcome to join in these easy, accessible dances.

Celia is also known as a singer, well versed in the songs of the Travelling People of Scotland, and has made several recordings, including Carmony: Learn to Sing Harmony While You Drive, a harmony-learning tool she created with Libby McLaren. Celia is a regular teacher at Lark Camp in Mendocino.