Teachers’ Bios

Boston Scottish Fiddle Club Instructors

     Not all great fiddlers are good teachers. Not all good teachers are great fiddle players. Here in the Boston area we are lucky in having many great fiddlers who are also great teachers and the Club has access to them all. There are also many talented Scottish/Cape Breton-style fiddlers from Scotland, Cape Breton, and other parts of this country and Canada who are passing through and/or performing locally, and who, when available, will teach at one of our meetings.

Our teachers include:

Ed Pearlman plays with heart and an unusual depth of knowledge about Scottish and Cape Breton music.  He is a full-time fiddler and teacher living in the Portland, Maine area.  His band, Highland Soles, with wife Laura Scott and 3 kids, offers a contemporary take on traditional Scottish and Cape Breton dance and music, and his new CD, On the Edge, features the innovative piano playing of his son Neil.  Ed directed the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club for 18 years, building it from about 15 to nearly 200 members, and creating events such as the 15-year annual Scottish Fiddle Rally, spotlighting each year a different soloists from Scotland and Cape Breton with dancers and Fiddle Club members.  A CD of Rally highlights is on Greentrax Records.  The Fiddle Rally pioneered, for the general public, the connection between the fiddling of Scotland and Cape Breton.  Ed also created and directed for 7 years the Celtic Festival at the Hatch Shell, featuring top Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton artists, and led the Fiddle Club on two performing tours to Cape Breton.  Since the mid 90s, Ed has written the music column for Scottish Life magazine.  Ed’s Portland America Distributing was for 11 years the US distributor for recordings from Scotland, Atlantic Canada, and selected titles from Ireland, Brittany and Wales; this distribution has continued under a new owner since 2003.  Ed has taught many camps, including Blazin-in-Beauly in Scotland, Ohio Scottish Arts School since 1995, Pinewoods, Maine Fiddle Camp, Ashokan, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp.  Ed created the music committee and music books for the RSCDS Boston Branch, and has played other styles as well, including contra dances (he ran Roaring Jelly for a few years and currently runs a monthly contra dance in Portland), and a swing jazz band.

Barbara McOwen gained her B.A. in Music from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971, and concurrently began her Scottish fiddle career as a dance and concert musician, band leader, music arranger, teacher, and researcher/collector of Scottish music books. After moving to Boston in 1979, she founded her current band Tullochgorum which has performed all over America, Canada, and Scotland. Barbara co-founded three community Scottish music organizations, in Boston, New Hampshire and New York City, the annual Boston Branch RSCDS concerts, the New Hampshire Highland Games, Stockton Folk Dance Camp, and the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle Camp. She is experienced in teaching all ages, all levels, and many instruments, and has developed a course for teaching Scottish fiddle from the beginner through advanced levels. She has taught Scottish music courses throughout North America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, including the Ceilidh Trail School of Celtic Music in Cape Breton. Barbara currently teaches private Scottish fiddle lessons full-time at home and at the New Hampshire School of Scottish Arts and is a member and performer at the Gaelic Club, which brings her into regular contact with the traditional Cape Breton music scene in the Boston area.

A native of Oregon, Hanneke Cassel started playing classical violin when she was 8-years old.  She met Portland-based fiddler Carol Ann Wheeler when she was 10 at an Texas-style fiddle contest. She soon quit classical, started taking fiddle lessons with Carol Ann, and began competing in contests throughout the Northwest. In 1991, Hanneke entered the Columbia-Pacific Scottish Fiddle Contest in Portland. She won the Jr. contest and went on a year later to capture the U.S. National Scottish Jr. Championship in New Hampshire. With this honor came a scholarship to study on the Isle of Skye, Scotland with the renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Cape Breton master Buddy MacMaster. These two quickly became her fiddle heroes and continue to inspire her music to this day. Hanneke set off for Boston in 1996 to attend Berklee College of Music on a string scholarship. She is the 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, and has performed and taught across the U.S., Scotland, Sweden, China, New Zealand, France, England, and Austria., She graduated in 2000 and continues to be an active member of the Boston music scene, playing with the Cathie Ryan Band, and the  Boston-based fiddle bands  Childsplay and Halali.  She has made guest appearances with Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers, Ensemble Galilei, Aine Minogue, and Joey McIntyre (from New Kids on the Block). Her fiddling has graced the stages of Boston’s Symphony Hall (opening for Judy Collins), Mountain Stage, The Plaza Hotel, Lincoln Center, the Boston Hatch Shell, and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.

Two-time winner of the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championships, AnneHooper has  performed frequently for dance events of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society since her introduction to Scottish Countrydancing in 1984. Anne served as Music Director of several RSCDS Boston Branch concerts and at Pinewoods Camp. She has performed with the dance band, Tullochgorum, for many years – both in the U.S. and Scotland. Under her other guise as a classical violinist, Anne Played for nine years with the Camerata Academica of Salzburg and the Sinfonieorchester Graunke of Munich and is an active member of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic. She is on the faculty at The Rivers Music School and The New School of Music.

Katie McNally has made waves in both the American folk music scene and abroad since the release of her debut album, Flourish, in 2013. Her latest project synthesizes her elegant and powerful fiddle playing with the talents of genre-crossing pianist Neil Pearlman and bluegrass phenom Shauncey Ali on viola.  Katie has performed and taught fiddle courses in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Scotland, England, and France. A member of the cross genre fiddle super-group Childsplay since 2009, she appears on their CD and concert video release, “As the Crow Flies,” produced by legendary Irish fiddler, Liz Carroll. McNally performs regularly as a soloist and has collaborated in the past with guitarist Eric McDonald and all-woman trad group, Long Time Courting. In the fall of 2012, she accompanied famed Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez on his first North American tour to promote the release of his Sony Masterworks double album, “Discover.”  Katie attended both The University of Glasgow and The National Piping Centre in Glasgow Scotland where she studied ancient and modern Scottish Literature and Scottish traditional music. Katie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University in 2012 with concentrations in Music, English and Child Development where she earned The Etta and Harry Winokur Award for Outstanding Contribution to Performance.

Andrea Beaton from a long line of Cape Breton musicians, composers and dancers. She is an award-winning fiddler, tune composer and recording artist who is known for her powerful bow and driving style. She tours and teaches internationally and is in great demand as a teacher at music camps and fiddling/dancing workshops.  She has released 5 solo albums, one duo album with her father, Kinnon Beaton, and two books of her original tunes.  She also recorded an album with her family “The Beaton family of Mabou” in 2007 for the Smithsonian Institute.  Most of her solo albums were nominated for awards, and her 2010 CD, ‘Branches’, won the Canadian East Coast Music Awards “Instrumental Recording of the Year”.

Pianist and mandolinist Neil Pearlman is rapidly distinguishing himself as a uniquely innovative artist in the contemporary  traditional music scene. Neil is recognized in many Celtic music circles for his unique approach to the piano.  Rooted in traditional Cape Breton piano styles, Neil brings in ideas from many other genres and the result is an exciting new sound that remains true to its traditional roots.  It was this fresh approach that led legendary Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland to say “watching Neil’s hands on the piano was like watching two spiders on crack!”

An accomplished Cape Breton step dancer as well, Neil grew up in the family band Highland Soles, led by father and mother Ed Pearlman and Laura Scott, both influential Scottish music and dance figures in the US. Neil has performed with Natalie MacMaster, Alasdair Fraser, Bruce MacGregor, Natalie Haas, Mike Block, Seamus Connolly, Kimberley Fraser, Maeve Gilchrist, Hanneke Cassel and Mike Vass, opened for Archie Fisher, split a bill with Jerry Holland and worked closely with many others. His career so far has taken him to Scotland, Spain, Mexico, Canada and all across the US.

Neil currently performs with a wide range of musical projects from traditional Scottish fiddle music to contemporary jazz. These include Alba’s Edge (Scottish/Jazz/Latin quartet), Soulsha (Scottish/West African/Funk 8 piece band), The Katie McNally Trio (“The new face of Scottish Fiddle in America” -Living Tradition Magazine), Party of Three (Contradance band) and Neil’s duo with father Ed Pearlman. Check out the “Projects” page of this site for more information.

Emerald Rae, Known for her powerhouse dance tunes and technical prowess, Emerald is an adept and masterfully soulful  fiddler. Growing up in a musical family where performance was encouraged from a young age, Emerald fell in love with Scottish fiddle music and never looked back. She went on to win the US National Scottish Fiddle Championship and graduate of Berklee College of Music. Her love of dance music has brought her on a journey through many styles of fiddle music and percussive step dance. Her love of history brought an ancient Welsh Crwth into her hands. She is involved with a variety of music projects and endeavors…

Jenna Moynihan is from Lakewood, New York and is a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. While studying, she was selected to receive the Fletcher Bright Award & and The American Roots Music – two awards given annually to one outstanding string player. She performs in a duo with Scottish harpist, Mairi Chaimbeul, with Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards, Darol Anger & The Furies, and has performed & collaborated with Hamish Napier, Bruce Molsky, Matt Glaser, Kimberely Fraser, Phil Cunningham, and as a soloist at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops. 

Wendy MacIsaac is a renowned fiddler from Cape Breton who has been playing music for over 30 years. She is recognized as one of the “old school” style of players who has kept the traditional sound going and has a deep respect for it.  Wendy is also a sought after piano accompanist and step dancer.  Besides performing as a solo artist, Wendy tours with Mary Jane Lamond.  Wendy can also be seen performing with Heather Rankin and occasionally Beolach who she toured with for 11 years.  Wendy is in high demand for her skills at teaching the Cape Breton style of fiddling. She travels throughout North America and overseas as well as teaching from her home in Halifax.

A rising star, Laura Cortese boasts an energetic performance of driving fiddle, vocals, and stepdance with an original blend of Celtic music and contemporary influence. Laura’s dynamic fiddling, flashing footwork and expressive vocals offer a distinct blend of traditional styling and innovative artistry. After college, Cortese traveled from coast to coast, from Nashville to Montreal, performing and partying with musicians at the forefront of the burgeoning folk scene. Laura was the 1998 New England Scottish fiddle champion, and currently performs solo as well as with the Boston-based group Halali, The Jolly Bankers and with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.  She has shared the stage with other Celtic greats including Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Teada, John Whelan, Cathie Ryan, Aoife Clancy & Robbie O’Connell. In January, she was a key organizer of the first ever Boston Celtic Music Festival.

Cathy Goode plays traditional Irish music and the music of Scotland and Cape Breton, along with Bluegrass music. For many years she has taught fiddle and the Suzuki method and has played in the Boston area for many years. She has hosted a weekly Irish music session in a local pub along with her husband, Louis Kaplan. 

Natalie Haas is one of the most sought after cellists playing traditional music today. She and Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser have toured as a duo for over 15 years, wowing audiences at festivals and concerts worldwide with their unique sound.  A graduate of the Juilliard School, Natalie discovered the cello at age nine.  In addition to having extensive classical music training, she is accomplished in a broad array of fiddle genres. Her music journey found purpose when she fell in love with Celtic music at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School at age 11. Inspired and encouraged by director Fraser, she began to investigate the cello’s potential for rhythmic accompaniment to fiddle tunes, and to this day, the two continue to resurrect and reinvent the cello’s historic role in Scottish music.  Natalie’s skills as an educator make her one of the most in demand teachers at fiddle camps across the globe. She also teaches privately and in a workshop setting, and holds an associate professorship at the Berklee College of Music. Natalie now makes her home in Boston, where she is an active member of the traditional music scene.

Elizabeth Anderson is an award-winning fiddler and graduate of the Berklee College of Music.  She has taught at Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School and Maine Fiddle Camp and runs Chauncy Fiddle Camp and has taught private lessons for seven years.  Elizabeth is part of a Celtic fiddle-cello duo with her brother, Ben Anderson.  The duo has been gaining an enthusiastic following in the Boston area and throughout New England. Blending Scottish tunes with lively rhythms and innovative harmonies, they create a sound rooted in tradition, inspired by the contemporary, and completely original.

Màiri Chaimbeul is a Boston-based harp player and composer from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Described by Folk Radio UK as “astonishing”, she is known for her versatile sound, which combines deep roots in Gaelic tradition with a distinctive improvising voice and honed classical technique.  Màiri has toured throughout the UK and in Europe as well as the USA, was twice-nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, finalist in the BBC Young Traditional & Jazz Musicians of the Year and twice participated in Savannah Music Festival’s Acoustic Music Seminar. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where she attended with full-scholarship, and was awarded the prestigious American Roots Award.

Calum Pasqua, a violinist/piper, but also plays lots of other similar instruments. Loves dark Delta blues. Attended Florida State University and Aaron Copland School of Music. Studied and play classical of course but through travelling has found a love for folk music of all kinds. Callum is a professional Scottish Fiddler and Highland Bagpiper. Busy fella currently, conducting two quality, fun youth orchestras in NY. Lots of fun to work with young people, doing everything from Corelli sonatas to tracks of Led zepplin. Also works with South Shore Symphony, Tallahassee Orchestra and North Florida Orchestra. Check out www.myspace.com/calumpasqua.

Galen Fraser is an accomplished fiddler and composer from Northern California with a love for Improvisation and spontaneity. His love for singing and writing lead him to pursue music as a career, earning his Bachelors Degree in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music. He has played with renown musicians such as Darol Anger, Natalie & Brittany Haas, Alasdair Fraser, Martin Melendez (of the Aupa Quartet), Hanneke Cassel, and Joshua Pinkham. He has performed at Symphony Hall in Boston, Ma, with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Mandavi Centre, The Palace of Fine Arts, and many other esteemed venues in the United States and Europe. In August 2016, Galen released his debut solo album, “Mischief Managed” featuring all original fiddle music and songs with guests such as Natalie HaasAlasdair Fraser, Jenna Moynihan and Conor Hearn. Now based in Boston, Ma., plays with the high energy Galen Fraser Quartet and the groovy afro-celtic funk band Soulsha (http://www.soulshamusic.com/).


Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward are a touring Scottish fiddle duo who combine traditional fiddling with historical scholarship to create a “cutting edge” musical experience that has been described as everything from “metal” to “baroque.” Using period instruments and mixing High Baroque chamber music with high-energy dance tunes, their 18th-century Scottish aesthetic brings a fresh perspective to the tradition.

As their music explores aspects of both “folk” and “early” music, Tim and Jeremy have an eclectic performing schedule. They were invited to perform at the 2016 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship Concert at Blair Castle in Scotland. They have been a featured band at the Chicago Highland Games since 2015 and are founding members of the Midwest Sing and Stomp Folk Festival. They have performed with Rachel Barton Pine, David Schrader, The Newberry Consort, and the Bach and Beethoven Ensemble. Tim and Jeremy are in demand as a dance band for Scottish country, English country, and contra dances. Believing education an integral part of their musicianship, Tim and Jeremy have led workshops and lectures exploring historical approaches to fiddling at The National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music (Plockton, Scotland), The Fiddle Club of the World, Wheaton Conservatory of Music, and the Newberry Library.

Kimberley Fraser, a 23 year old native of Sydney Mines, has been step dancing ever since she can remember. She started studying traditional Cape Breton fiddling at age six and at age nine she began taking lessons in Cape Breton piano accompaniment. Though she is still in her early 20s, Kimberley’s career is already a distinguished one. She has traveled the world, from Victoria to Afghanistan, bringing Cape Breton music with her wherever she goes. Kimberley now enjoys teaching fiddle, step dancing, and piano privately at home as well as at various workshops. Kimberley has been a featured performer in Spirit of the Island at the Louisbourg Playhouse in 1998, 1999, and 2000. During the 2000 Celtic Colours International Festival, She released her debut CD entitled, Heart Behind the Bow. In 2002, Kimberley appeared in Cape Breton singer Aselin Debison’s TV Special Sweet is the Melody which aired on CBC in Canada and PBS in the United States.

Alasdair Fraser (born 14 May, 1955, Clackmannan, Scotland) is a Scottish fiddler. Fraser operates Culburnie Records, and is also one of the leading artists featured on the label. He has founded three summer fiddling programs – the fiddle camp in California (founded in 1984), a week-long course on the Isle of Skye (founded in 1987) and the more recent in California (founded in 2006). Adept in various Scottish idioms, in recent years he has helped to reconstruct and revive the Scottish tradition of dance music played on violin. Alasdair has achieved international recognition as a lead performer, record company artist and teacher of the rich violin tradition of his native Scotland. Famous for his expressive touch, open personality and deep understanding of the music from Scotland, Alasdair is always in great demand as a soloist and for concerts with different groups. He has worked with the singer Jean Redpath and the guitar player Tony McManus and has collaborated with very different groups that go from the Master Chorale of Los Angeles, the Waterboys or the Chieftains . He has also shared performance as a soloist at the Lincoln Centre in New York with the classical violin player Itzhak Perlman. He represented Scotland internationally in performances sponsored by the British Council.

Cynthia MacLeod, from her home base in tiny Prince Edward Island, Canada, has built an international reputation founded in raw talent, nurtured by boundless energy, and polished to a gleaming finish by a
touring schedule that has taken her across Canada, through New England, and as far away as Japan. Audiences far and wide have thrilled as this tiny dynamo takes the stage for whirlwind performances that garner spring-loaded standing ovations everywhere she performs. Just as remarkable is the acceptance and respect accorded Cynthia by her peers. In a part of the world known for dazzlingly talented fiddlers, fellow musicians have awarded her more than a dozen Music PEI awards, including multiple awards as Roots/Traditional Artist of the Year and Instrumental Artist of the Year. She has also twice been chosen by audiences as Entertainer of
the Year. And all this before she’s 25 years old.


Roger Treat was first inspired by the fiddlers he heard as a child while summering in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Though a Vermont native, his focus still remains rooted in the traditional dance music of Cape Breton. He is largely influenced by the styles of Buddy MacMaster, Jerry Holland, and others he grew up listening to. Roger is known for his driving style, and is heard throughout the New England area mainly playing Contra dances and ceilidhs. Many know him as a Cape Breton-style fiddler who plays regularly at the Monday night contra dance in Nelson, as well as many other dance halls throughout the region. It’s not hard to notice, between tunes, his friendly manner and engaging laughter. He has been a member of Childsplay since 1993. Roger’s love for the fiddle also led him to pursue the art of bowmaking. He studied bowmaking at the University of New Hampshire as well as Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In Winter 2000/2001 Fiddler Magazine featured Roger’s bowmaking; now, after a decade of experience, he is well respected in the field.

Raised in a small town in Maine and now living in Vermont, Lissa Schneckenburger grew up with music. She began playing fiddle at the age of six, inspired by her mother’s interest in folk music and a family friend who was a professional violinist. Soon she was studying with influential Maine fiddler Greg Boardman and sitting in with the Maine Country Dance Orchestra. By the time she was in high school she was playing concerts on her own, specializing in the sprightly New England dance tunes that combine influences from the British Isles and Quebec with homegrown twists that have been evolving since Colonial days. Another of her major influences was the diverse musical community that she found at fiddle camps, where she had a chance to play with and learn from a wide variety of musicians including noted Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. In 2001 she graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in contemporary improvisation, and since then has been performing around the US and internationally for a growing audience of enthusiastic listeners. She has recorded seven CDs, (four solo and three with various groups). Recently she has been closely studying the roots of the Downeast traditional music that she first heard as a young girl.

Jerry Holland (born February 23, 1955) is a noted fiddler who lives on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States to Canadian parents. During his
childhood, Jerry was exposed to the music of the large Cape Breton expatriate community in Boston. He began to play the fiddle and step-dance at the age of five, and played at his first square dance at the age of six. He made his television debut in 1962 on the Canadian program Don Messer’s Jubilee. By the time he wa 10 years old, he was playing regularly at dances in the Boston area. Jerry’s family made annual summer trips to Cape Breton, and Jerry moved there permanently in 1975. In his early 20s, Jerry performed with the Cape Breton Symphony, a group of fiddlers that included Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald, Angus Chisholm, Joe Cormier, Wilfred Gillis and John Donald Cameron. The group appeared regularly on CBC television on The John Allan Cameron Show and other programs. From playing with these much older and more experienced musicians, Jerry gained an appreciation for the traditional style of Cape Breton fiddle music , as well as a repertoire of over a thousand fiddle tunes. Jerry released his first, self-titled album in 1976. It was his second album, Master Cape Breton Fiddler (1972, re-released on CD in 2001), that made his reputation as a ground-breaking musician. Accompanied by Dave MacIsaac on guitar and Hilda Chiasson on piano, Jerry pioneered a new, more modern sound for Cape Breton music on this album, while still remaining firmly within the Cape Breton tradition. Jerry has released 10 albums, and has appeared as a guest musician on over 25 more. He has also published two popular collections of fiddle tunes: Jerry Holland’s Collection of Fiddle Tunes and Jerry Holland’s Second Collection of Fiddle Tunes, both edited by Paul Cranford . He is also noted as a composer of fiddle tunes, most famously “Brenda Stubbert’s Reel” (named for his friend and fellow Cape Breton fiddler Brenda Stubbert ) and “My Cape Breton Home”. (Jerry died 2009)

Jonathan Bews was a Traditional and World Music Development Worker with Scottish Borders Council and in that capacity there taught extensively, both in individual and group settings, pupils ranging in age from 5 to 70 demonstrating a very wide range of experience levels.
Working with SBC as well as bands Malinky and Cantrip over the last 12 years he has taught on behalf of community music groups, both as visiting and resident tutor (he is currently In-House tutor for the Jedburgh-based Borders Fiddle Group), in primary and secondary schools, privately and in festival settings at Tinto, Coldstream, Stirling Tollbooth, Edinburgh, Ayr, Glasgow, Towersay, Warwick and many more. He is every bit as comfortable encouraging beginners as in fielding more involved stylistic queries from advanced players and has a repertoire of tunes from all around Europe which can by turns coax the inexperienced and challenge those with quite a degree of expertise.

Gregor Borland has had the good fortune of being the ONLY current performing fiddler to have been taught by
both Hector MacAndrew of Cults and Donald Riddell of Clunes, who was the leader of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society, also a prolific teacher in the Inverness area. Both these fiddlers are now legendary in Scottish traditional fiddle music.Gregor has also had much success in competitions, winning the Daily Record Junior Golden Fiddle Award in 1977 and then going on win as many as 8 Scottish Championships throughout Scotland over the next 5 years, including the “Henry Williamson Trophy” at the Scottish championship contest, held in Inverness. He has recorded and toured with many great bands and artistes, including The Kathryn Tickell Band, Burach, Caledon (with Davy Steele) and also Jim Malcolm, to name a few. Gregor currently is living in Spain with his family where he has started a Traditional Scottish Fiddle School, in the beautiful town of Biar in the mountains north of Alicante. He has also recently started making fiddles, he now faithfully plays one of them on all of his tours.

[whohit]Guest Teachers’ Bios[/whohit]