Congratulations to Beth!

Introducing Beth, my featured musician for January and February!

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Teaching Beth is a delight for so many reasons. Let me count the ways:

  • well-rounded multipotentialite lifelong learners like Beth are the most inspiring and interesting people with whom to spend time. I strive every day to count myself in this group. Here she lists her “interests outside music” but I happen to know that she has many additional talents not listed here, including being a very gifted visual artist.
  • dedicating oneself to mastering a complicated instrument like the fiddle is a task that takes years. Beth cheerfully honors this commitment each year and together we rejoice in noting the ways in which she has grown musically over time.
  • Beth embraces the ways in which learning music benefits her overall health as well as challenges her areas of growth.
  • Beth is very funny and kind and is wonderfully supportive of me and of her fellow students.

Congratulations to you, Beth! You are a light in my life.



Merry Christmas from the Champagne Céili Band!


Tom Stoeffler and I loved playing for the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance‘s Christmas Céili 2017.

Awesome job, dancers! Thanks for including us.

December 16 Christmas Ceili

As a proud returning member of the Champagne Ceili Band, I warmly invite you to join us on Saturday, December 16 at 2 pm at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Christmas Ceili 2017: Christmas in Killlarney will be an afternoon of dance, music, fun, food and community.


From the Facebook event page:

Watch your favorite Irish dancers perform both traditional and contemporary Irish dance along with some seasonal favorites! Then join in for a jig yourself!
Ceili (social dance)
Pot luck
Tickets sold at the door: $16
3 and younger free (on lap please)

Fun Home at UI Theatre

There are some professional opportunities that only present themselves every once in a blue moon. I find myself in the midst of one right now as we wrap up what has been a pretty terrible year overall.

Please don’t misunderstand. Personally, all is well. My family is delightful. My work is diverse and fulfilling. I have a wonderful set of students who I am fortunate enough to spend time with every week. Taking a broader view though, our nation has voted itself into the idiomatic handbasket. We are in peril.

Living with anxiety offers valuable lessons and tools to me every day. One of the most essential tools has been adopting a terrier-like commitment to releasing all that which I cannot control, which is to say, nearly everything.

From where I’m sitting, art is the only satisfactory channel for processing my human experience.

Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (based on Alison Bechdel‘s award-winning graphic novel) is one of the most powerfully honest and beautiful musicals ever created. From my perch in the onstage six-piece band, I get to experience it repeatedly with new lessons revealing themselves every time.

I took on this project because of how much I have loved my previous work with director John Cameron and musical director Janelle Lauer but I wasn’t overly familiar with Alison Bechdel when I came on board other than as the inspiration for the Bechdel test. This is actually my favorite way to approach a project; total immersion from a previous place of ignorance. There is so much potential for growth when one has so much yet to understand.

There are still four more opportunities to see Fun Home at the UI Theatre Building. The cast and crew are so talented, so consistent in their portrayal of this beautiful and heartbreaking story, and such kind and invested people. And the band? Well, I don’t mind telling you that the band rocks. No other possibility exists under the music direction of the inimitable Janelle Lauer.

I know this production will change you. What other reason do we have to be here?

I have a very smart and compassionate friend who shared with me this mini-comic that Alison wrote as a coda to Fun Home opening on Broadway. I really hope you click through to Vulture to read the whole thing.

FunHomeVultureSlide 1 of 9. View the rest of the mini-comic over at Vulture.


Family Folk Machine; Calling Me Home

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Participating in the band of the Family Folk Machine is one of the great joys of my life and my husband Joe equally loves being a member of the intrepid bass section.

I will only be able to participate in the Sunday concert but my fellow fiddlers Caleigh Stanier and Ben Sauder will have the fiddle situation well in hand at the Friday concert also.

If you’re not yet familiar with the Family Folk Machine, we are a non-auditioned, multi-generational community folk choir directed by Jean Littlejohn. We are all devoted to and in awe of our wonderful director. She brings unmatched musical integrity as well as boundless joy with her to every rehearsal and performance.

The art for this poster is by one of our fellow choir members, Susan Stamnes. I love it so  much.

Please join us!

Friday, November 17, 7:00 pm at the Iowa City Senior Center
Sunday, November 19, 3:00 pm at the Old Capital Senate Chamber

Vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow (Tues 11/7)


Citizens of Coralville, tomorrow is the big day for you to cast your vote for Meghann Foster for Coralville City Council! The polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you’re unsure of your polling place, it’s easy to confirm by following this link.

Meghann has been endorsed by The Gazette, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 1260 and AFCSME Council 61. You can also read a number of endorsements from private citizens on Meghann’s website, including my own enthusiastic endorsement.

I have found this year to be very discouraging politically and I have desired at times to find a way to unplug from the whole system. It has been a battle to not allow my cynicism to take over my dedication to do whatever good I’m able to do in this world.

“I cannot do all the that the world needs but the world needs all the good that I can do.”
-Jana Stanfield

When my husband Joe and I marched in the 4th of July parade in support of Meghann for City Council, I felt such relief and true pride to be supporting to be a candidate who is so smart, so richly experienced and so equally committed to all of the citizens in our community.  I remember saying to Meghann’s husband Nick that I had never felt so patriotic on our nation’s Independence Day as I did that day.


As stated on her website: “Meghann Foster is a mother, community volunteer, and small business owner who is running for the open seat on the Coralville City Council. Meghann is committed to ensuring that Coralville is an inclusive place for all its residents.”

Please join me in casting your vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow.

Congratulations to Stella!

Introducing Stella, my featured musician for November and December!

Nov-Dec 2017 Featured Musician-page-001

How awesome is the self-portrait that Stella provided for her featured musician poster?!! I hope you can tell that the shirt she is wearing reads “Be Who You Are”. Stella embodies that message so well.

It also delights me to no end that Stella’s mother Katie captured a photo of our very first fiddle lesson together 4 years ago when she was just shy of her fifth birthday.


Since that first lesson, Stella and I have learned so much together. We sing in nearly every lesson because two people who love to sing as much as we do just can’t help ourselves when we get together. We are also both shameless multi-instrumentalists. The more music, the better! I’m actually quite jealous of Stella’s collection of musical instruments and I highly doubt the collection is complete.

Stella draws deep inspiration from performing and I believe it stems at least in part from her generous spirit. She truly understands how much joy a passionate performance brings to the audience and she loves to spread happiness. There is very likely a genetic component as well, given how richly blessed Stella is on both sides of her family with a legacy of performance and music making that goes back many generations.

Please join me in wishing Stella a happy birthday and a hearty congratulations on all her musical accomplishments past, present and future!