Lots of folks fiddling around
I especially love being a mother and grandmother who retired from 30+ years at UVM to begin a new life where I could “make a difference”. I've played fiddle at variety shows, churches and gatherings which enable outreach to help people in need and those less fortunate. I've found that playing fiddle not only brings me joy--but also to others--such as those in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
Creatively: knitting, crocheting, sewing, designing, glasswork soldering
I played fiddle for roughly 7 years before joining the VFO. In 2012 I joined the VFO to play at the Braintree Town Hall benefit for farmers and others devastated by the Irene flood. Then I joined to play with VFO in Summer 2012 because they were show casing Vermont, old-time fiddlers (where I thought Harold Luce might be able to perform for the VFO members).
I love playing with the VFO because I get to play with others who enjoy playing, too.
My name is Brean Mead and I have been playing with the VFO off and on since the second session after it was started. I had just started playing violin and was playing classical music when Sarah asked me if I wanted to play in her new group. I think it was the fall of 2003. I play mostly first fiddle now and have learned a lot since then!
Some of my other interests are reading, scrap booking, sewing and painting. I recently got my bachelor’s degree from Johnson State College in Professional Studies. I have not played with the orchestra for a couple of sessions because in April of this year (2012) I became a foster parent and have an eight year old little girl I am taking care of.
I live in Barre and my favorite part of playing in the orchestra is when we are playing the tunes with all the parts and listening to them blend and come together as a beautiful piece of music!
I have worked at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center for 30 plus years. Most of that time has been in the field of clinical research which I enjoy very much. In my off times I enjoy sailing, skiing, kayaking, tennis and PLAYING MY FIDDLE!!
I have lived in Woodstock, VT with my husband Michael and my three boys (now men) for most of my life and enjoy the sense of tradition, space and the lifestyle that Vermont offers.
As a child I learned how to read music with piano lessons however I did not pursue anything musically until 1998 when I went to a Natalie Macmaster concert and was totally mesmerized by her fiddle playing. I was hooked! I bought a fiddle and started learning the notes of different tunes and to my surprise could still remember how to read music.
I started taking lessons with Beth Telford and Jerry Holland and went to every workshop that I could manage. Also, I found a place to play music at a weekly jam on Thursday nights; the Freight House in South Royalton, some nights packing 30 musicians in the small woodworking shop owned by Randy Lovett. It was so much fun trying to keep up with Adam Boyce and Andy Stewart who regularly jammed there. I felt so lucky to be involved with learning these traditional styles of music and learning them by ear which was all new to me.
One summer I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Cape Breton and attend a week long immersion workshop into the Cape Breton musical lifestyle led by Jerry Holland and Beth Telford. It was magical, with afternoon fiddle playing at the Red Shoe, step dancing lessons, nightly set dances and ceilahs.
When I came back from there I noticed that we were losing some of our traditions in music that were still so alive in Cape Breton, and wanted to translate that spirit in Vermont.
I found out about the VFO approximately three years ago and attended my first rehearsal with the Welsh session. I thought I had transcended and gone to fiddle heaven!!!
With my learning to play by ear with Jerry and Beth and being able to read music it was the perfect fit for me. Its mission to carry on the traditional fiddle styles fit right in with my goals at the time. I really wanted to be a part of that. I was so excited and thrilled!
Under the direction of Sarah and John, I feel that all of us in the VFO learn from each other at all levels whether we are beginners or intermediate players. Sarah challenges us in a very gentle but direct way. The VFO has taught me the importance of listening musically. I love my VFO fiddle friends. Over the years Sarah and John have raised my level of playing beyond what I could do in a lesson. Being a member of the VFO has given me the discipline to practice, work hard on my intonation and rhythm and challenge me with more difficult tunes. And it is sooooo much FUN!!!
I am the owner of Lightfoot Farm, growing herbs, flowers and fruits and marketing them at Central VT Farmer’s markets. I had been playing the flute for over thirty years, on and off, before joining the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra. I have played a variety of music, including classical, jazz, and folk. I played folk music for a few years for elementary school kids in a band called the Fiddleheads. I started playing with the VFO about 8 years ago.
I enjoy playing with the VFO because I like being a part of a team of great people. It is a wonderful feeling to be part of an orchestra that creates beautiful sounds and harmonies for audiences to listen to. It is a lot of fun and it gets me out of the house to socialize, a great break from household and work responsibilities.
I had wanted to play the fiddle since I was about five years old, but didn't start playing until 4th grade. At that time I only played classical music. When I was in sixth grade I heard my friend playing "Old Joe Clark" and I loved how it sounded so I learned it by ear and then began to widen my musical horizon. I started doing workshops with the Sap Run Fiddlers which is basically the VFO for kids. From the Sap Run Fiddlers I learned different fiddling styles like Welsh, Irish, Cape Breton, and Jazz. From there, Sarah Hotchkiss introduced me to the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra. My first session for the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra was in the fall of 2011. I love the VFO because of the atmosphere and all of the wonderful fiddle tunes I learn each session. Everyone in the VFO was so welcoming and nice, when I first started they created a very comfortable environment for me! Currently I am a freshman at Montpelier High school. I love to be artistic and enjoy learning new languages. At the moment I am learning French and Spanish. In my free time I make and sell paper bead jewelry. Also I work as a program aid at a Girl Scout camp called Twin Hills and I have been a girl scout for over nine years.
When I turned 40 (2001), my wife and sister teamed up and surprised me with a birthday present of three months of a cello rental and lessons. I had played guitar and a little piano growing up, but had not played (or even touched) a bowed or fretless instrument before—but somewhere along the line I had expressed interest. I began by taking lessons with Melissa Brown for a couple of years, and then played in Anne Brown’s “cello choir.” It had always been my goal to play folk music with the cello, and when one of the members of the cello choir mentioned a “fiddle orchestra” that meets in Montpelier, I checked it out—and was quickly hooked! Sarah’s leadership and encouragement, John’s wonderful arrangements, being able to play with both amateurs and professionals, and learning to play some pieces by ear have all contributed to a great learning and playing experience. It has also been a real treat to play alongside Suzanne Long and Hilary Owen. Cellos rule!
I lived most of my life in New Jersey. I worked in New York City’s world of advertising and eventually became a freelance graphic designer, then eventually gave all that up to move to Vermont in 2011, shortly after my daughter was born. One thing I noticed right away was the presence of the fiddle - stores, concerts, lessons, dances. Growing up, I learned to play classical violin starting at age 8, but always wanted to evolve my repertoire into a more accessible, more homespun genre of music. When I saw the call for fiddle players to join the VFO, I knew this was something I wanted to try.
I first joined the VFO in the summer of 2011, and have played whenever possible since. The orchestra was very welcoming, and I love the way a group with such a wide range of ability and experience are able to play so beautifully together.
Hi, my name is Erica Duda and I think the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra is rad! I joined in the fall of 2009, when the theme was Cajun music, and have since learned so many different fiddling genres and techniques alongside a wonderful group of people (both members and director). I’m currently 25 and started playing violin when I was 16, but really only started getting into fiddling when I joined the VFO. Picking up tunes by ear is another skill I have had to acquire when switching to the fiddling style, something I have greatly improved upon. I studied biology in college and love plants, but this winter I am working at Killington Ski Resort as a lift operator until I can find another science gig.
Hi! My name is Flora. First and foremost I am a mother of 2 very vibrant boys. I am very proud of both of my musician boys, Liam the trumpet player, and Seamus the fiddler. Music is such an important part of our lives. If I could just play, listen or study music all day, I would!
I had been playing the fiddle less than 1 year when I joined the VFO in the Spring of 2007. It was so thrilling to be able to participate in an orchestra with such wonderful musicians! In joining the orchestra, not only did I make a lot of new friends, I discovered so many wonderful pockets of musicians - jams and sessions - throughout the state. I am always in awe of what a great amount of talented musicians we have here. I enjoy many genres of music, but you will find me at Irish sessions more often than anything. I played the flute for 5 years as a youngster, and played guitar a bit in my early twenties. I have also been known to play the Highland bagpipes, pennywhistle, flute, and banjo.
Besides mothering and music playing, I work as a nurse and lactation consultant, and am a grad student at UVM.
I am a new member of the VFO and have yet to learn to play the fiddle. In the meantime, I am privileged to serve as a guitar accompanist. I learned to play by ear many years ago and would memorize a musical phrase before fully learning the notation. The VFO learning environment offers me a welcome chance to overcome that limitation; the practice session format and the transcription process help me
improve my reading. I tend to play acoustic flatpicking, fingerstyle and bottleneck slide genres.
In my day job I have a law practice in Montpelier and with my wife Anne have lived in Middlesex, raising our family for the last 25 years or so. I love old stuff, whether it be musical instruments, Lazarus the garden tractor, automobiles or tin pan alley tunes. I’ve been in a few musical projects (Rusty Romance!) and have done pro sound for some years, including live recording projects. Other interests are design, stonework, messing about with things that clank and will probably catch fire, metal work, stringed instrument repair, general wood butchery, but most precious of all are the opportunities I find to laughwith my friends and family
It’s hard to begin this short bio with a cancer story but that is exactly what led me to playing the fiddle. In the summer of 2000 I returned from a family trip to Ireland to meet our daughter who had studied in Limerick for a semester and was now returning home. After a routine cancer screening our happy summer changed irrevocably with my cancer diagnosis. It was a time of reckoning. That’s one of the gifts of cancer. I had a chance to revisit some dreams I’d deferred for when I had more time or everything was just perfect.
One of my dreams was to play the fiddle. The desire had been nurtured over three trips to Ireland and years of listening to all kinds of music. I especially loved Celtic music. As a child, I had played the piano for seven years. I taught myself to play basic guitar as a teenager and even dallied with the flute for a short while as a young adult.
I had wanted to play the fiddle for years. I had seen only roadblocks. With my cancer diagnosis something shifted. I knew a friend who had an old fiddle and so I asked her if could borrow it. She graciously agreed. I attended a social gathering at the Burlington Boathouse at the end of that summer. Sarah was one of the quartet members. I had a good feeling about her. I liked her energy and the way she played. I asked her if she provided fiddle lessons. She did. Doors were opening. At work I had the circumstances that could now allow me some flexibility to take lessons. By the spring of 2001 I was a fiddle student and was thrilled. Sarah was the epitome of patience as I plodded along week after week. She was the perfect teacher for me with high expectations balanced with heaps of support and encouragement.
In July 2003 Sarah asked me to be part of the VFO. I was honored. I accepted and became one of the 15 original members. I have been an active member ever since playing all fall and winter sessions.
To start playing the fiddle at mid life and to respond to Sarah’s invitation to be part of the VFO are two of the most rewarding and life- changing decisions I’ve made.
It’s been a great adventure to learn to play as part of a group while developing musicianship. I’ve gained confidence in ways that go beyond the orchestra. Though the preparation for concerts is often tiring and the day of a concert even more so, I really have enjoyed the performing aspect of the VFO. It’s been such a gift to share music for ten years with family and friends in the audience. Playing on stage with the caliber of musicians with whom we’ve played has been nothing short of incredible. One of the extra rewards of membership is that I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way.
I cannot imagine the courage and faith it took for Sarah to envision and found the orchestra. Through thick and thin she’s helped to guide us. She is an inspiration and a dear friend. It’s been wonderful to be part of the VFO’s growth during the past 10 years. I trust in a grand future for the orchestra.
The music goes on…. My almost 18 month old granddaughter loves Irish music and and loves to dance. I can’t wait to get a fiddle into her hands.
I have to thank my mom for introducing me to the fiddle! When I was 2 or 3, she inherited my great, great, great grandfathers’ fiddle, and took lessons. I remember sitting in the living room, and mom helping me play “hot cross buns” and “twinkle twinkle little star” (imagine this tiny 3 year old with this huge fiddle!). I loved it though. Not long after she got me into lessons, and I continued to play. I learned mostly classical, but always played some fiddle on the side. I started competing in fiddle contests around the age of 8. In high school I learned to play trombone so that I could participate in band since we didn’t have an orchestra. I joined every music group I could my last two years, including the Lakes Region Youth Orchestra and Senior Strings, pit orchestra, marching/pep band, Jazz band, and the Poultney Stateline band. I continued to play both instruments throughout college although I wasn’t taking any lessons. I had been playing my fiddle for 25 years when I found the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra in the Fall of 2010. I have very much enjoyed playing with everyone in the orchestra, we are all constantly learning from each other, and I am finally learning to play by ear!
Outside the orchestra, I am a CT Technologist, and a 3D technologist. I bowl on two teams, and play my trombone with the South Royalton Town Band in the summers. I love sewing, and knitting, and doing anything outside!
In my professional life I am a self-employed video producer. My business name is Knotted Yew Productions, and I specialize in event videography, concerts, talks, etc. For fun I like to listen to and play music, obviously. I also am into photography, travel, literature and gardening.
I started learning to play fiddle in 1991, twelve years before joining VFO as a charter member. I joined up for first session in Fall 2003 and stayed on until 2011, when the arrival of my son had me juggling more diapers than quarter notes. I was VFO President from 2008-2011. As with all instruments, the player never stops learning to play. Every new tune and every new experience is an opportunity to grow and improve. I joined the VFO because I fancied the idea of playing with others with a director and having an established format. It gave me a reason to get out my fiddle and work at it to improve my playing. I found through time that not only was I playing much better, the simple economics of membership allowed me to get a two-hour top-notch lesson with a top-notch instructor every week for about $10 a pop. The VFO helped me improve skills in listening to other parts, keeping in time, bowing, third position and reading music. Playing provided a grand time, both in rehearsal and especially in concerts.
Hi, my name is Kim Fitzgerald, I have been playing with the VFO since 2004. I began playing fiddle in 2003, when I was given a fiddle as Christmas gift. My love of the instrument and traditional music originated with my grandparents, Seymour and Lottie. My grandfather played fiddle and my grandmother the piano, a perfect match! In their day they played many barn dances in Chittenden, Franklin and Lamoille counties. As a child I would sit and listen to Gramp play for hours. They raised a family of 8 musicians, ranging from trombone players in the Marine Corp band to trumpet players with the Sterling Weed Orchestra. Music was at the core of family life, and my first instrument, the clarinet enabled me to participate in family music. As a child, I played in a band that my Aunt directed and my Uncles were playing members. How fun!
Fast forward many years later to a renewed interest in music and the connection to family and friends that is a result. Playing with the VFO has enabled me to make new musical connections and friends, return to my roots, and share the joy of music with others.
Flute and fiddle, I have been a member for 4-5 years. My background was in flute and piano. I took up the violin as an adult, mostly self taught. I enjoy figuring out and doing harmonies. I also like to write tunes.
I have been playing fiddle for about 11 years. I got started by taking lessons from John Mowad and learning tunes by ear. Before learning to play fiddle I had never played any other instrument.
I started playing with the VFO in 2006 and have mostly participated in the Fall/Winter sessions and the Spring sessions. The VFO has provided a great and fun opportunity for me to meet other fiddlers, play and learn fiddle tunes/genres with many local players in an orchestral setting and meet many highly recognized Vermont and New England fiddlers and encourages me gently towards learning to read music.
Professionally I have always worked in the woodworking industry. My current title is Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Production at Wall Goldfinger Inc. located in Randolph VT, where we build custom contract furniture. I also make and repair violins.
For recreation I enjoy both downhill and XC skiing, snow shoeing, road and mountain biking and of course playing fiddle is right up at the top of the list.
I played violin from fourth grade into high school. My mom always encouraged me and schlepped me to private lessons. But it was boring playing by myself, as my school did not have an orchestra, I could only play from music so couldn't join in when others were playing, and I finally quit. Forty years later when cousins were visiting and playing fiddle music, I picked up their fiddle and played a few notes. To my surprise, and everyone else's, some of it was still in my fingers. That Christmas, my husband and daughter put a leased fiddle under the Christmas tree for me. I started playing a little and joined the VFO that January, I believe 2006. I could not play anything by ear, knew no fiddle tunes, and was relearning everything. But it was fun to play with others and I have gradually learned how to hear a tune instead of seeing it in music. What fun to just pick up a fiddle and play along with others! When friends come to visit, I can now play some melody, sometimes harmony, sometimes rhythm cords. If the VFO had been available to me as a teen, I suspect I would not have stopped playing. Just think how good I'd be! In addition to the weekly practices and seasonal concerts, several VFO members get together locally to practice and enjoy each other’s company. I enjoy the new and old music and the friendships.
I work as a Physician Assistant, seeing patients in family practice at Evergreen Family Health in Williston. I live in Saint Albans and enjoy playing music on the deck, looking at the lake. What could be better!!
I am the daughter of legendary fiddler Clement C. Myers, founder of the Northeast Fiddlers Association and the North American Fiddling Judges Association. I started playing guitar as a teenager, and accompanied my father in contests all over New England, Canada, and Weiser, Idaho where he came in the top ten in the nation. I started playing fiddle in my early 20's, and also started judging contests all over new england at that time as well. I have competed in many fiddle contests and have brought home many trophies. Fiddle music has always been at the core of my life.
I've always had the love for traditional fiddle music and the VFO fulfills that wonderful need to come together with others of the same interest, to learn and have fun. The VFO is a very special organization full of wonderful and exciting people of all walks of life. I've been playing in the VFO for many years and I hope many more to come. At the moment, I have a few students, and enjoy teaching them!
I am a happily retired educator enjoying such activities as fiddling, cross-country skiing, swimming, walking, strumming the ukulele, kayaking, biking, reading and more. I started playing the fiddle in 2005 after repairing my great grandfather’s fiddle (circa 1865) and taking lessons with John Mowad for six months. At the insistence of Sandy Weaver, i joined the VFO with trepidation in 2006, and was soon smitten and haven't looked back. “So many tunes, so little time”!
I am an organic farmer. My husband and have owned and operated Luna Bleu Farm for about 25 years. We were nomadic farmers for our first several years but now we are in South Royalton, VT. Our two (almost?) adult children have been involved with the farm over the years, but what part it might play in their future is still a mystery!
I started playing cello in fifth grade. I always loved playing, but I wasn't very good at practicing.... sound familiar? I really enjoyed playing in groups and HATED recitals. I played pretty regularly up until my freshman year in college. When our kids were young, I found out about Suzuki lessons. Wow! learning by ear! That was really how I always wanted to learn but I was stuck with the written page. Since I loved contra dancing, I thought it would be fun if my daughter took fiddle lessons (and I could listen in and learn too!). Beth Telford got us going. My daughter, Shona, quickly outpaced me in talent and technique on the fiddle but I kept up with my cello and started learning fiddle tunes that I could play at the famous and formative Freighthouse Jam with Randy Leavitt and John McHugh. Then I learned of the VFO and Shona and I came up to Montpelier with Butch Howe... I think we even dragged my less enthusiastic son along that first season. Well, I quickly learned that "cellos rule!" so I kept coming even when the others moved on to other things. Sarah and John are SO supportive of us all. I know they really helped me to be less shy about playing solos even though some of those early jumps landed a bit roughly.... I have so much more confidence in my playing now. I now also play with contra dance band, Old Sam Peabody, and we have a regular monthly dance in Woodstock VT.