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Helpful resources for players of all levels

Links and Videos

This page may be a helpful resource for fiddle and violin stduents of any level. I often make recordings for my students, with sheet music and suggested bowings. Email me if you have questions.

About my fiddle... Lots of people have asked me about my violins. I play a five-string and a four-string violin, both made by John Montgomery, an excellent violin maker who lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Links to Explore

  • The Traditional Tune Archive (TTA) (formerly Fiddler's Companion) - a descriptive index of North American and British Isles music for the folk violin and other instruments.

  • Fiddler Magazine - a journal dedicated to fiddlers and accompanists, filled with useful information about style, history, technique tidbits. It also features several transcriptions of tunes in each issue.

  • Southwest Strings - an online store where you can buy stringed instrument supplies and music.

  • DanceData - this site is an invaluable resource for Scottish country dance musicians and teachers. Look up which tunes go with what dances, see who recorded tunes for dances, and other very useful information.

  • Music Dictionary Online - a great resource for all kinds of information about all kinds of music and theory. There is enough useful information on this website to keep you distracted for weeks. Have fun!

  • An Educational Guide to Musical Instruments - find out about all kinds of instruments, and learn some theory.

  • J. Scott Skinner recordings - the University of Aberdeen has a great website containing links to many of the great Scottish fidder's recordings made between 1910 and 1922.

  • Ear training guide for audio producers

Societies and Communities

  • RSCDS-Carolinas Branch - the home page of the Carolinas Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

  • Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) - a wonderful organization that supports traditional dance music, especially with roots in English and North American culture.

  • Sun Assembly - my home English country dance community, based in Durham, North Carolina.

  • The Colonial Music Institute - contains a wealth of information about early American music and dance. It links to a great repository of online databases for English and American country dances.

Music References

  • Shar Music - another online store for stringed instrument supplies and music.

  • The Session - a good place to find a lot of traditional tunes, mostly Celtic, with history and sheet music for many of them.

  • Elderly Music - no, it's not just for's a good place to get instruments and music stuff online.

Dance Instructions

Tunes  to learn - videos

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A solo violin performance of Isaac Cooper's lovely Scottish air from 1783, Miss Gordon of Gight, also used for the English country dance called Easter Morn.

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A simple playthrough of Stone's Rag, a tune made popular by, among others, Bob Wills in the 1940s. I add a few pointers about how to play a version of the ending and make the tune sound playful

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A short lesson on The Snowy Path, a lovely slip jig (in 9/8 time) composed by Mark Kelly of the band Altan. You can hear them perform it on their album, Harvest Storm.

A few music snippets from a fiddler's manuscript tune book from 1850:

"Banff Ladies"  (reel)  


"Miss Bigg of Benton's" (strathspey)

"Mr Dawson's [Unnamed] Strathspey"

In 2014 and 2016, Dean Herington (piano) and Mara were invited by the Lisbon Scottish Country Dance group to teach a musicians' workshop, after which all the students in the workshop joined Mara and Dean to play for the evening Ball.

Scottish country dance     videos

Elftones - Sautee, GA Contra Dance

Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia is a tiny town with a big dance community. Both band and dancers have a great time!

Elftones - Contra Dance

More video from Sautee-Nacoochee, GA, thanks to one of the dancers...

Elftones  - Roger Gold on guitar

The Elftones is only two of us, but we both play all the strings we have on our instruments. As many of our dancer-listeners have told us, "We can't believe it's just two people up there--it sounds like five!"

Elftones - Mara and Roger

More footage from Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia--pretty clear evidence of people having an excellent time on the dance floor. (The band likes it, too.)

More contra dance music

Dance, dance, dance...

Contra dance videos

Mara, Elftones and Contra Dancing in Action

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