Classes & Workshops

The heart of the Acadia Trad Festival is world-class instruction students receive from our Faculty. Whether you are registered for the full week, a single day, or you just wish to drop in for an afternoon workshop, we have over 200 educational opportunities that will appeal to almost everyone.

Morning classes focus on student’s chosen major, and are open to registered students only. Classes are progressive throughout the week. All instrument majors (except for Beginner Fiddle) are intended for students at the Intermediate, Advanced or Master level. See below for majors offered.

In addition to major classes, afternoon workshops are offered for all levels (including beginner) in all instruments listed below, plus bodhran, tenor banjo, song, and many other instruments, dance, and instrument crafts. 

2017 Afternoon Workshop Schedule & Descriptions (Printable text format, PDF, subject to change)

2017 Afternoon Workshops Schedule by Instructor (Matrix view, PDF, subject to change)

Class Materials

Faculty notes, sheet music, videos and more!

Take me there!

In 2017, major courses of study will include:


Intermediate, Advanced, and Master fiddle students will rotate through all fiddle faculty during the week except Julia; Julia will be teaching only beginner fiddle (see below). Students may opt to focus on one fiddle instructor, but everyone is encouraged to rotate to get the full experience and stay with their playing level group. You may attend classes levels higher than your own, but please don’t slow down the class. Master level classes are for master level students only.

IRISH FIDDLE (Liz Carroll): In this Irish Fiddle intensive, Liz will teach the Liz Carroll approach to Irish fiddle. She will introduce jigs, reels, and other tune styles common in Irish music. The week will focus on approach to tunes, bowing techniques, and things to consider when writing your own fiddle tunes. Students will be taught to learn by ear, however, music will be provided after the class is complete so students will be able later master what they learn during the week.

CAJUN FIDDLE (David Greely): David Greely will be teaching Cajun repertoire for intermediate and advanced students. He will draw from dance hall standards in his style, as learned from Dewey Balfa, and his in-depth study of lesser known masters like Varise Conner and Dennis McGee. As you learn the tunes, he will point out the distinct elements of Cajun ornamentation that are the secret to playing with a convincing Cajun sound. David will also lead in the direction of the true mark of a Cajun fiddle master, self-expression in preserving a melody in creative variations.

CAPE BRETON FIDDLE (Kimberley Fraser): We’ll look at what makes Cape Breton music different from other music. We’ll talk a lot about bowing and how this gives the fiddle style its ‘accent,’ as well as common fingered embellishments that you’ll hear in the style. Listening to recordings will also be a part of the class. We’ll use this as part of our ear training to identify common stylistic features and apply them in our own music. The class will be taught mostly by ear and we’ll talk about ways to improve your ear training. Sheet music will be provided as reference. We’ll learn jigs and reels and march, strathspey and reel sets, as the class desires.

ACADIAN FIDDLE (Pascal Miousse): The fiddle is the most played instrument in Acadian traditional music. In this class, students will learn the style and techniques from the Magdelen Island’s Acadian fiddle style. With very distinct and unique bowing technique and an east coast french swing, Pascal will teach step by step how to play the high energy music that makes people want to dance. A repertoire of Acadian tunes from the islands and the maritimes will be taught.

OLD TIME FIDDLE (April Verch): Description coming soon!

BEGINNER FIDDLE (Seán Heely): Description coming soon!

Fiddle Making

Fiddle Making (Jonathan Cooper): Jonathan Cooper is one of the recognized master luthiers of our century. At his shop in Portland Maine, Jon has made over 400 instruments in the last 40 years. His fiddles are played by many of the world’s best performers in trad music. In this one week workshop intensive, students will work together on a fiddle that will be completed in the white – no varnish – and be played on the final evening. The workshop is appropriate for intermediate and advanced makers but can be a good beginning foundation as well for those interested. Students are welcome to bring an instrument they are working on and get guidance from Jon in working on their own instrument.

The class will cover an introduction to design and construction in all important aspects. There will be hands on demonstrations as well as access to an extensive personal library and direct examples of work from famous makers. Daily talks on varying subjects including history, maintenance, set up and sound production will be open to the camp at large as well
Participants are encouraged to bring their own tools, however a limited number of  tools will be available for students who do not have all the necessary equipment. This class has a $40 lab fee payable when you arrive.

IRISH STYLE GUITAR (John Doyle): John Doyle is one of the masters of the Irish Guitar. He performs solo and with some of the best musicians of our time. In this class John will teach alternate tunings, approach to backing up fiddlers, and how to pick a tune. Students will learn rhythms for reels, jigs, slip jigs, and more. Chord theory will be introduced as it pertains to providing the backdrop to the melody.


CLAWHAMMER BANJO (Riley Baugus): Students, we’ll be learning Southern Appalachian clawhammer banjo tunes and techniques, mainly in the “Round Peak” style, from NC, made popular by such great  players as, Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, and Kyle Creed, but, we’ll will also learn tunes and techniques from other parts of Southern mountains as well, such as, some examples of the playing of Matokie Slaughter, from Pulaski, VA, and tunes from Dock Boggs, of Norton, VA. This is your class and requests to learn specific tunes and playing styles will be openly considered if possible. Our main focus will be on learning the tools that allows you to play the instrument freely, not just the tunes in your repertoire.


CELLO (Duncan Wickel): Description coming soon!


INTERMEDIATE MANDOLIN (Baron Collins-Hill): Baron is one of Maine’s leading mandolin teachers. He performs regularly and has recorded two albums with Velocipede. In this class we will focus on learning a variety of tunes (Irish, Quebecois, American, Scandinavian) and learn how to accompany those styles of music. Other topics will include proper technique, ornamentation, variation, and chord theory.


BOUZOUKI (Eamon O’Leary): In this class the focus will be on playing bouzouki for Irish music. Eamon will cover techniques of both melody and accompaniment, focusing on right and left hand positions, posture, picking and strumming patterns, tone production, tunings, chords, capos, choosing an instrument, etc.


IRISH FLUTE (Kevin Crawford and Nicole Rabata): Description coming soon!

Uilleann Pipes

UILLEANN PIPES (Cillian Vallely): Description coming soon!



WHISTLE (Kevin Crawford and Nicole Rabata): Description coming soon!


SEAN-NÓS IRISH DANCE (Kieran Jordan): Sean-nós (“old style”) Irish dance is a joyful expression of movement and sound. Considered to be one of the earliest forms of Irish dance, sean-nós is an improvised solo style, with footwork danced close-to-the-floor, a relaxed upper body, and a playful dialogue between the dance and music. In this class, students will enjoy listening and responding to traditional Irish music while gaining confidence as percussive dancers. Beginner dancers will focus on timing, technique, and building a body of basic steps. Experienced dancers will learn more detailed “battering” rhythms, while creating longer step sequences, practicing smooth transitions, and developing a personal solo style. Please wear comfortable shoes with a smooth hard sole (leather or hard rubber soles are preferred). Dancers are encouraged to bring water, a notebook, and a recording device.


CELTIC HARP (Mairi Chaimbeul): Description coming soon!


PIANO FOR TRADITIONAL MUSIC (Emmanuelle LeBlanc): Piano Students in this class will learn techniques used in accompanying fiddlers in traditional Celtic music. Discussion and demonstration of how piano and step dance rhythms are interlinked. Chording approaches, bass lines and syncopated rhythms for jigs and reels will be explored.

Piano Accordion

PIANO ACCORDION (Pastelle LeBlanc): In this class, students will learn how to play the melodic right hand on the accordion and will learn a variety of Acadian tunes. Reels, jigs and waltzes from the Acadian repertoire will be taught as well as some base lines to accompany the right hand. Discussion and demonstration of how to use the accordion as a rythmic and accompaniement instrument, how to chord to tunes.