Fiddling on the Hill

String Traditions

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

Cost: Summer 2023 registration fee: $15, Summer 2023 Tuition: $625. Limited financial aid is available - scroll down for more information.

String Traditions 2024 will run the week of July 15-19! Registration will open on January 2 using the button in the purple box below.

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

Natalie Padilla: Teacher.

Natalie is a two-time national fiddle champion (1994 and 2015), has won the Rockygrass Fiddle Contest in 2015, and Kentucky State Fiddle Champion (2022). In addition to being an award-winning, in-demand performer and teacher in many folk genres and on various instruments, Natalie is an accomplished and established classical violinist, holding a bachelor of music from the University of Northern Colorado. She has previously released two full-length albums of original music, Paths & Places (2017) and Fireweed (2019). She is a founding member of Colorado bluegrass band Masontown, with three recordings, Masontown EP (2015), In This Time (2017), and Age (2020). Her more traditional fiddle playing can be found on Fiddle & Flute (2011), a traditional Irish music collaboration with Blayne Chastain and Peter Romero, and recently Hell Broke Loose (2023), an Oldtime fiddle album with Nashville natives Casey Campbell and Tyler Andal. She can be found playing regularly as the newest member of Vermont-based band, Low Lily. Her newest collaboration with Quinn Bachand (of Kittle & Co.), Montana Wildflower (2023) features Natalie’s respected tune writing, this time in a modern Celtic and old-time setting.

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, $75
  • Single-day drop-in price: $20 (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.

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 should start by filling out the Financial Aid Application Form and following the instructions at the top.

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 19

Program Sponsors

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