February 3-4, 2018
San Francisco CA
Meet the Instructors
Janie Rothfield and Nathan Bontrager
Janie Rothfield is an award winning clawhammer banjo player and powerhouse fiddler who has been playing Old Time Music “forever”! Janie got her start playing with older generation fiddlers and banjo players from New England, North Carolina and Quebec and since high school has had bands that played music rooted in Traditional American and Celtic music styles. She is known for her melodic and rhythmic style on both fiddle AND clawhammer banjo and for her original tunes. Two of her tunes have won the Best Non-Traditional Tune at Clifftop Appalachian Stringband Festival! Her newest solo CD, OUT OF THIN AIR, features all of her own compositions and songs, and in 2016 she released a wonderful CD of Fiddle/Harmonica duets with harmonica master, Brendan Power called PUFNSAW, and OFF THE CUFF AND ON THE FLY with her duo Hen's Teeth (With Nathan Bontrager)! Jane performs with numerous bands, including Coracree, Hen's Teeth,The Janie Rothfield Old Time Duo/Trio and with daughter Shona Carr as Little Missy.
Janie has taught clawhammer banjo, fiddle and guitar for over 35 years, privately and at camps and festivals such as Banjo Camp North, Old Songs Summer Camps, Janie's Jumpstart, Heart of the Alleghanies Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Folk College and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and even as far away as Australia! Her teaching method combines an easy to learn technique that combines strategies for learning to play by ear quickly with a focus on musicality and rhythm!
"Janie came highly recommended so I had high expectations. They were met and exceeded. I've been playing fiddle for years, trying to learn from books and the internet. After Janie showed me the proper way to hold the fiddle and bow, and proper bowing technique, all those tunes I know became so much easier to play. Then she showed me the most important thing about playing any instrument; the difference between playing notes and making music. And the whole time I never feel like I'm taking lessons. I feel like I'm just hanging out playing music and learning new things. Most importantly, I'm excited about learning because it has become fun again." Jamie McCracken- Janie's Fiddle student
“Janie has shown me how to pull the melody out of old time tunes on my banjo… to make them less busy and more musical. I had developed some poor habits throwing every banjo cliché I ever learned into each tune I played. Janie showed me how to strip out all of the unnecessary stuff… to concentrate on the melody and rhythm which ultimately “pops” the tunes and makes them more beautiful.” Tim Wade-clawhammer banjo (Doylestown, PA)
Cellist, Nathan Bontrager, is one of those rare musicians who has seamlessly and beautifully combined his years of rigorous classical music training (Baroque and Renaissance) with American Old Time and Celtic folk music. As a multi-instrumentalist equally at home playing fiddle, clawhammer banjo and guitar, Nathan brings a deep understanding of traditional music and a unique voice to his music.
Following years of rigorous classical training, Nathan began to focus primarily on improvised music, traditional folk music and Baroque and Renaissance music. This wide array of skills has allowed him to develop techniques and a sound on the cello that can be applied to virtually any traditional style of music. Nathan is also proficient on bass, guitar, banjo, fiddle and other instruments and has made a focused study of how to translate techniques idiomatic to other instruments to the cello. The cello, being an “outsider” in most traditional music contexts, can either be a welcome and inspiring new addition or an awkward invader. Bontrager uses his broad musical experience and knowledge to find ways to sensitively introduce the cello into new musical contexts. As a teacher, he stresses the need for cellists to be attentive to the specific needs of a particular musical situation, starting from the perspective of a bass player. From there, he introduces foundational rhythmic and harmonic principles which are augmented by useful techniques for folk music such as percussive bowing styles (chopping, Balkan “village bass” style, etc.) and extended pizzicato techniques.
From Pennsylvania, Nathan currently lives in Germany teaching and touring with Hen's Teeth, the UK based Root & Branch, the Bal Folk Trio, Salut! and other experimental, improv and pop music projects. http://randb.org.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/salutfolks/