Private Lessons

Styles: Quebecois, Old-Time, Acadian and Cajun, New England and Contradance
Also: violin bio-mechanics (improving core technique for traditional and classical players)
Levels Taught: All
Ages Taught: All
Contact Phone: 503-236-8277
Contact Email:

Lisa Ornstein has an international reputation as one of the finest fiddlers in North America—but if you ask her, she’ll tell you that her greatest joy is teaching. Her instruction in the music of Appalachia, Quebec, and New England takes you deep into the beauty and excitement of traditional fiddling, while helping you to become a stronger, nimbler, more skillful player. All this & great tunes, too!

Lisa’s masterful playing has inspired a generation of old-time, contradance, and Quebecois musicians. She began playing music in Ohio as a youngster and was mentored in her teens by fiddling greats such as Tommy Jarrell, Dewey Balfa, and Louis Beaudoin. At 20, she was invited by Mike Seeger to record an old-time album (Ship in the Clouds, on the Smithsonian/Folkways label). Lisa’s passion for French-Canadian music eventually led her to to Quebec, where she spent 12 years and was a member of the super-star trad group, La Bottine Souriante. Lisa has also produced award-winning documentary recordings of elder master musicians, and her own rich and unique repertory of old standards and off-the-beaten track musical treasures reflects a lifetime of being a ‘‘tune catcher.”

Lisa is an experienced and inspiring teacher who likes working with fiddlers at every level and every age and from a variety of musical backgrounds. She has a gift for putting students at ease while connecting them with the power and joy of playing. She has a solid understanding of violin technique is very good at helping beginning and intermediate fiddlers get “unstuck” and improve their bowing, fingering, tone production, ornamentation, and ease in playing up to speed.

Lisa generally teaches by ear, but will happily supply sheet music—there are many paths to playing! And because she’s an Oberlin Conservatory graduate, Lisa understands how classical musicians think and learn, and can help classically-trained folks who want to “make the leap” into traditional fiddle or hone their learning-by-ear skills.

Here’s what Lisa’s students are saying about her teaching:

“Your teaching style is relaxed, yet packed with information. Just right!”

“We feel lucky to have Lisa as a fiddle teacher for our son. She has restored his joy of playing and practicing his instrument. She obviously is an incredible player herself and more than qualified to teach students of any level. But even more important is her ability to find out what motivates a student and how they best learn. Her ability to bring out the best in our son and have him be excited to play is fantastic.”

“I haven’t ever had so much fun playing the violin. I’ve never felt very confident in my musical abilities and have felt stuck in the same place with my playing for a long time. Since starting lessons, not only do I feel capable, but I feel hugely inspired with all I am learning. Your approach to teaching has allowed me to understand what I am doing and how I am doing it and how it applies to the music I am playing. And most importantly, it’s REALLY FUN.”