Fiddling on the Hill

String Traditions

Age: 9-14 (CITs ages 15-18). Open to violin, viola, cello students.

Cost: Summer 2024 registration fee: $15, Summer 2024 Tuition: $650. Limited financial aid is available - scroll down for more information.

String Traditions 2024 will run the week of July 15-19! Scroll down to the purple section to register.

String Traditions is a full-day, one-week strings camp for students ages 9-14 (and CITs ages 15-18). Explore the challenging fun of fiddle and “new string” styles, learn music by ear, improvise and arrange in string bands, and find your own unique voice!

Who should participate?
We welcome all string students ages 9-14. Participants should have been playing for one year or more, feel ready to learn a few new tunes in the span of a week, and be excited to try something new. Whether you’ve been fiddling for years or just want to see what it’s all about, there’s something for you!

A CIT program is available for musicians 15-18 who wish to assist with the younger classes. CITs will have the opportunity to perform in an advanced ensemble directed by one of our teachers.

What will the week be like?

Our focus at Strings Traditions is to explore all the fun ways to use our instruments: playing fiddle and popular music, improvising, thinking creatively, feeling rhythm and groove, and working collaboratively.

You’ll meet the repertoire and styles of different fiddle traditions including Irish and Scottish, American, and more. You’ll play creative games and experiment with open-ended, curious ways of playing that seek to “see what happens” musically, rather than trying to reach a preconceived result.

You’ll also have opportunities for some crafting and outdoor games. When the weather cooperates, we’ll spend as much time working under the shade of our local trees and in the fresh open air as we can. At the end of the day, we’ll have fun making some noise as a camp band, arranging some easy tunes with harmonies and rhythm.

Explore traditions and build your skills…
We’ll spend the week steeped in string repertoire from outside the classical world. We’ll work with music from a variety of fiddle traditions – both old and new – and develop skills such as:

  • Learning and collaborating by ear
  • Playing, arranging, harmonizing (and maybe singing!) in a string band
  • Finding and using rhythm and “groove”
  • Understanding chord progressions underlying the melody
  • Creative thinking, improvising, and composing
  • Crafting a sense of individual style and expression
  • Building the foundations for a lifetime of music and musical friendships within the vibrant and thriving Boston-area fiddling community… and beyond!

Summer 2024 Program Information:

July 15 – 19

Monday – Friday, 8:45 am – 4:00 pm

Ellery Klein: Artistic Director, creative ability development instructor, fiddle instructor

Alison Ackley: Cello instructor

Valerie Thompson: Cello Instructor

Sample Schedule

  • 8:45-9:00 Arrival / Morning Meeting
  • 9:00-9:55 Celtic / Old-time / Bluegrass fiddle repertoire
  • 10:00-10:25 Snack Break
  • 10:30-11:25 Celtic / Old-time / Bluegrass fiddle repertoire OR workshop
  • 11:30-12:15 Creative Ability Development (improv games)
  • 12:20-1:15 Lunch and Recess
  • 1:20-2:10 Composing and Songwriting
  • 2:10-3:05 Art or Outdoor Games
  • 3:05-3:10 Afternoon Break
  • 3:15-4:00 Celtic / Old-time / Bluegrass fiddle repertoire

After-Care Option (Late Pick-up)

  • 4:00-6:00 M-Th, $80
  • Single-day drop-in price: $25 (Please call to arrange this)

Faculty Bios

Ellery Klein

Ellery Klein has been Powers’ fiddle and violin teacher for 8 years. While she primarily performs Irish fiddle, she teaches students a range of styles and encourages them to find their interests. She trained in Alice Kanack’s Creative Ability Development in 2019 and works to foster her students’ ability to be fearless, have fun and think creatively on their instruments.

Alison Ackley

Alison earned her B.M. at the Chicago College of Performing Arts under the tutelage of Chicago Symphony cellist Richard Hirschl, and her doctorate of musical arts in cello performance at Stony Brook University in 2021.

Alison has performed with the Three Village Chamber Players, Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, Stony Brook Baroque Players, and the Emerson String Quartet. She is also a vocalist, cellist, and assistant director of Taylor Ackley and the Deep Roots Ensemble, a group that specializes in performing traditional American music in classical music settings. She has attended many summer music festivals such as the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts Masterclass Program, Interlochen Arts Camp, and the Madison Early Music Festival.

In addition to performing, Alison maintains an active private studio, has taught musicianship at the Stony Brook University Young Artist Program, and has coached chamber music through the Stony Brook Community Music Program.

Valerie Thompson

Valerie Thompson (Cellist/Composer/Educator) is a Boston-based musician who has performed in the U.S and abroad as a cultural ambassador for American Music Abroad (U.S. State Department), in rock bands, string quartets, and chamber folk ensembles.  A cellist versed in multiple genres, Valerie currently tours with the indie-folk-pop band, Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards.

When not on tour Valerie maintains private cello studios in Cambridge & Brookline, MA. She has been on faculty at the Brookline Music School, the CelloBello Cellokids Online Program, the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, (Boulder Creek, CA); Miles of Music Camp (Lake Winnipesaukee, NH); CCE Music and Dance Week (Bethesda, MD); CelloChan Woods (Ann Arbor, MI); and Illinois Wesleyan Cello Camp (Bloomington, IL.)

B.M., Performance, Berklee College of Music; M.M., Contemporary Improvisation, New England Conservatory of Music

Summer 2024 Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for students who can document financial need. Financial aid applications will be accepted for summer day programs only until all available aid is exhausted.

All new and returning students interested in applying for financial aid for summer day programs should first register for the program using the links in the purple section below, and then fill out the Financial Aid Application Form, following the instructions at the top of the form. If we are able to award any aid, we will notify you and adjust your payment accordingly.

Please reach out to if you have any questions about the financial aid process.

Still have questions?

String Traditions

Schedule: MON - FRI, 8:45 AM - 4:00 PM

Location: 160 Lexington Street (Main Building)


Dates: Jul 15 - Jul 19

String Traditions After-Care

Schedule: MON - THURS, 4:00 - 6:00 PM

Location: 160 Lexington Street (Main Building)

Dates: Jul 15 - Jul 18

Program Sponsors

Thank you to the Agnes M. L:indsay Trust and Watertown Savings Bank for their support of Powers’ financial aid program!