It is my hope that music will find its way to the center of people’s lives as they realize they are part of a beautiful living tradition.
— gretchen koehler
Gretchen Koehler & her son, Sylvain.

Gretchen Koehler & her son, Sylvain.

KOEHLER'S School of Traditional FIDDLing

Gretchen has taught hundreds of students to play the fiddle, through her public school teaching, clinics and private lessons. At her studio in Potsdam, NY, her fiddlers range from pre-schoolers to grandparents and play the standard repertoire enjoyed throughout the “North Country.” She delights in passing on the tradition as it was passed on to her; by exchanging tunes in a living room with a neighbor when she was in elementary school. She teaches by “ear” and by note, has her students write tunes, learn about folk history, styles, sound equipment, and jam. Gretchen is available for private lessons in her home studio in Potsdam, New York.

TO FIDDLE. It’s a verb. It’s an action.

It goes beyond simply playing a tune from a fiddler’s repertoire.

Groove. Ornamentation. History. Bowing. Feel. Purpose.
That’s what I facilitate. That’s what I love.
— Gretchen Koehler, thoughts on teaching

Gretchen inspires all ages to carry the region’s musical heritage to future generations.
— TAUNY Heritage Award recipient 2014
Enthusiastic. Motivational. Inspirational.
— Nina Merulla, Shenendehowa Central Schools, NYS Capital Region
Gretchen is a tremendous asset for the cultural and educational institutions in our region.
— North County Children's Museum

Sessions, Lectures, Workshops, SCHOOL VISITS 

Gretchen’s teaching and performing are amazing.
— Dr. Shelly Tramposh, Professer of Viola, Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, New York

JAM SESSIONS: Since 2009, Gretchen has hosted the "First Friday of the Month" jams with singer/guitarist Barb Heller, host of NCPR's String Fever. Jams are open to folks interested in gathering with North Country neighbors to play old time fiddle tunes. All levels of musicians, singers, and step dancers are welcome. Toe tappin’ listeners are encouraged although they may be handed a pair of spoons or washboard before the eve is over. (Community jam session available for all folk instruments/beginner-advanced players/60-90 minutes.)

INFORMANCES for AUDIENCES: An "informance" combines information and performance, education and entertainment. It is designed for non-musicians in a pre-concert lecture or workshop setting. (listeners/all ages/20-40 minutes.)

FIDDLE STYLES 101: This interactive informance takes the non-fiddlin’ participants on a guided listening tour of fiddle styles from the British Isles, through Canada and across the United States. Audiences will also learn to recognize tunes types from hoedowns to strathspeys, as well become part of the music making with a lesson in Quebec foot percussion and Irish Mouth music. (listeners/all ages/ 20-4o minutes.)

Fiddle Style/Regional dialect: In-depth informances are available within any of the following style categories (may also include basic dance instruction): Irish, Scottish, English Country Dance, Cape Breton, Quebecois, Ottawa Valley, Canadian Contest, American Contest, New England Contra Dance, Northern Old Time, Southern Old Time, Appalachian, Bluegrass, Cajun and Scandinavian. (fiddlers/string players/listeners/all ages/30-60 minutes.)

DANCE WORKSHOPS: Dancing and fiddling go hand in hand. Gretchen enjoys teaching students of all ages contra, round, square, couple dances, basic step dancing as well as folk percussion such as spoons, washboard and limber jack. (all ages/30-60 minutes.)

WORKSHOPS for FIDDLERS: Gretchen specializes in a variety of workshops that focus on fiddle music history, bowing techniques, ornamentation (Irish/Old Time), harmony/twin fiddling, learning by ear, foot percussion (Quebec), cross-tuning, fiddle styles 101, contest fiddling and the very popular (and fun) novelty fiddling. (fiddlers/45-60 minutes.)

WORKSHOPS for VIOLINISTS:  Classical musicians have shown increasing interest in expanding their musical palettes and Gretchen is well suited to bridge the gap between styles. As well as being a fiddler, Gretchen has a degree in music education from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) and has taught the classical violin for almost 2 decades. She offers interactive clinics for classical students ranging from Suzuki "Twinklers" up to the conservatory level students in the Eastern US and Canada. (violin/viola/cello/45-60 minutes.)

Gretchen is my new Goddess! She is the BEST! Just outstanding!
— FIDDLE HELL Participant, Westford, Massachusetts

the madstop fiddlers

Students of Gretchen Koehler aka THE MADSTOP FIDDLERS (2018)

Students of Gretchen Koehler aka THE MADSTOP FIDDLERS (2018)

The Madstop Fiddlers of Potsdam, New York (Potsdam spelled backwards) is a multi-generational fiddle ensemble of fiddlers who are enthusiastic about sharing Old Time, Celtic, Quebec and Nordic fiddle music. Under the direction of their teacher, Gretchen Koehler, small bands can be heard playing tunes for New England contra dances, Quebec Sugaring Off parties, farmers' markets, cafes, historical societies, places of worship and Old Time jam sessions to the delight of audiences around the North Country of Northern New York.

The Madstop Fiddlers are a true gem in our North Country.
— B99.3 FM, North Country Hits