New Harmony Music Festival 2017

Have a little slice of Utopia. It’s not forbidden, it’s not out of reach, it will challenge your musicianship if you allow it, and you will meet people that will become friends for a lifetime.

For the past 6 years, I have been attending, volunteering for, and teaching at the New Harmony Music Festival in some capacity. I saw a sign in the hallway of practice rooms when I was avoiding practicing Popper Etudes in college, and decided this sounded fun. I didn’t expect to fall back in love with my cello, I didn’t know that I would meet some lifelong friends, but I did know I was in for a musical treat.


NHMF&S is a festival held in New Harmony, Indiana. If you aren’t familiar with the history of New Harmony, please look into it. (New Harmony’s History) The town is a failed utopian society. It is filled with beautiful little gardens, historic homes, architectural gems, lovers of art, and lovers of music. The festival is a totally acoustic festival that uses the unique spaces, provided by the town, to teach, share, and create music. This festival presents a blend of traditional musics intertwined with classical music, presenting concerts that show mutual respect for all musical kinds. Students of the festival school are able to attend three elective classes of their choice, a group class called Group Therapy, faculty concerts, a called dance, and jam sessions.

This year, I was honored with the opportunity to teach Group Therapy Class. This class is an opportunity to allow teachers and students to share their unique talents. Students can perform and get meaningful feedback, teachers can share a small dose of what they teach, and community members can be invited to share their art (visual, musical, textile, written, dance). It was fun to facilitate this gathering. I have immense respect for the students and artists who come to New Harmony.  Teaching this kind of class is very different than standing in front of an ensemble conducting. It is more organization, and creating a safe space. Safe spaces are so important for the developing musician.

I would love for you to join this class one summer!

Check out the New Harmony Music Festival!


Fiddle Camp!

In June, I spent 12 days in California. Part of that was simply exploring San Fransisco, but most of it was spent in a little slice of heaven called Sierra Fiddle Camp held on the grounds of Shady Creek Camp on the San Juan Ridge, outside of Nevada City, California. This year’s faculty was a fun filled group of traditional musicians from all over the place. Every day you wake up, have breakfast, and the rest of the day looks like this (for the most part…)

  • tunes class
  • 20 minute break
  • tunes class
  • elective class (CELLO CLASS!)
  • lunch
  • open forum (generally about the music from various artists’ cultures/area of study)
  • tunes class
  • break
  • elective class (CELLO CLASS again!!!)
  • student performances
  • dinner
  • evening event (jams, dances, pool parties…)
  • sleep

I learned so many tunes. So many tunes. More importantly, I worked on the things that make these tunes unique to their styles. Some people will call this ornaments, nuances, haggis, style, feel, groove, something else… It’s always a goal not to just play the notes of the tune, but to make it authentic to it’s place of origin while allowing you to play it in your own light. I probably will never say that I’ve mastered all of this, but I am starting to enjoy my own sound.

After camp (or any fiddle music thing), I feel like I’ve been bitten by this bug of really fun music to play. It invites you into a community that fosters traditions new and old. I want to keep learning so I can share more!

Check out Sierra Fiddle Camp at

I am also so appreciative of the post fiddle camp excursion that allowed us to extend our camp vibes and ease back into the “real world”. Some of us hung out around the area after camp, then a friend and I stayed with another family from camp as we explored San Fransisco for a couple of days. Our personal tour guides were al friends from camp, and spending time with them was so lovely.

(Photo Credits to Amy Luper)