Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Workshop News

Yes, January 2023 we Can’t(be) on Whidbey.

Yes, it’s absolutely true!  We will be reinventing many aspects of our workshop this year, particularly where lodging, meeting, and concert spaces are concerned.  The general format and schedule that has stood the test of time will see few changes.

Where are we moving?  Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center, just about 5 miles south of Stanwood, WA.  Their Facebook page profile picture is a spectacular photo of the main lodge, and the left hand wing is the dining area. Here’s their location on Google Maps.

To see what the lodging options are, click here: Olympic View Lodge, Mt. Baker Cabins, Bayview Retreat House, and Warner House will all be possibilities, depending upon your needs.  Hover on any of these, and you’ll see a directional arrow. Click on that for more pictures. You can also click on the layout link of most of these facilities to see how they’re laid out.

Take a look at the Meeting rooms, too. Check out the Program Center, and the Program Center A to see where we’ll be spending our days. Again, there’s great diagrams of the layouts of these two rooms to help you understand how wonderful and spacious they are.

Why are we moving? For one thing, space. Lots and lots of it.  There’ll be no super crowded bathrooms that you share with 20 or more of your closest friends.  There will be plenty of space to spread out  in the main auditorium where we’ll gather for instruction- along with room for cases, room for parents, you name it.  We’ll have another large meeting room for our sessions, and hospitality-type functions, sort of a classroom B, only twice as big.  Don’t even mention dining hall.  You’re going to love the wide open space and the window views.

The facilities are newer, as you can tell from the pictures.  They have air handling systems in the meeting room. Our poor old friend, Auditorium A has doors and windows for an “air handling system”… and that would be mighty chilly in January.

We’ll be getting more information on the website in the upcoming weeks, and intend to have registration open within a month, give or take.

IMPORTANT:  The next email will be about registration, including the when, where, and how… so don’t miss it! If you think you’re on our email list that usually keeps you up to date on Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas workshop news, and you haven’t received any emails yet, please send a note to, and include your preferred email address.

*****No cows were harmed in the making of all things “COW”.

Congratulations Flora!

Flora Cummings, high school senior!

Many of you no doubt remember Flora when she was just a wee little one, boldly playing with the youth band on stage at Folk Life. How she has grown up!  This past week, she won first place in the WA State solo competition for viola!   Congratulations Flora!!

Her mother, Judith says it seemed like they finally reached the end of a long road that started clear back in 2020- maybe even back in 2019, when she first competed in 9th grade… then the pandemic took care of the rest of the story, until this past weekend.

Flora plans to attend University of Washington next year. She will double major with a Bachelor of Music in voila performance and a bachelors in biology- prerequisite for veterinarian school!

On May 17th, Flora will be the soloist with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra in the Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending” for violin and orchestra.  She and her sister, Elinor (on viola), are both members of this orchestra.  For more details and tickets go here.

Flora will also have her senior recital on Saturday May 28th, playing both violin and viola. This event will be at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 6215 196th St. SW, Lynnwood, WA, from 3:30-4:30 pm.  There are no tickets, but masks are required for everyone attending.

Flora performing with the NW Scottish Fiddlers at the Everett Library, just a few years ago, or so it seems!


March Workshop with Christina Cowart-Smith!


Do you remember this young lady, leader of the NWSF Teen band for so many years?? She’s back!!

This will be a unique, and rare opportunity to learn tunes from a former member of the NW Scottish Fiddle club, who studied with Calum MacKinnon, and for the past six years, has resided in Scotland!

The free workshop will be held on Sunday, March 13th, at noon(Pacific Time), via Zoom. Please note this is a week earlier than our usual workshop!

And now a bit about Christina-
Christina Cowart-Smith has played traditional Scottish music for the past twenty years.  Raised in Seattle, Christina took up classical violin aged eight before continuing her classical studies alongside weekly fiddle lessons with Calum MacKinnon from elementary school to high school. 

Christina was no stranger to Scottish fiddle competitions while living in the Seattle area. She won the junior and open divisions of the Portland Highland Games, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, and placed first in the regional competition for the US Nationals in Williamsburg, VA.

She went onto pursue an undergraduate degree in Classics at Stanford University. While in California she played for RSCDS dance with Andy Imbrie on piano. Double minors at Stanford in medieval art history and archaeology allowed her to further her academic interest in Scotland and neighbouring northern England.
After undergrad, she moved the UK where she has now lived for nearly six years.  Christina has two master’s degrees: one in Scottish History from the University of Glasgow and another in Medieval Archaeology from Durham University.  She is currently in the fourth-year of a PhD in the latter subject, also at Durham.

Christina resides in Edinburgh and enjoys playing in local jam sessions at the Antiquary and RSCDS dances, as time allows. She also privately teaches fiddling.

Here’s a few recordings you might enjoy-


Karen Steven Workshop February 20th!

If you haven’t heard by now, you need to know that Karen Steven, a fantastic instructor from Scotland is returning to do another Zoom workshop with NWSF this month, in a just over a week!  The workshop is open to anyone that gets on our list- club members as well as nonmembers.

The tunes will start at 11:00 AM, Pacific time on Sunday, February 20. Karen was our first instructor of our regular season, in 2020, and she was terrific!  This will be a free workshop, with recordings and sheet music all made available afterwards. There will also be a special deal Karen is offering for the occasion.

If you’d like learn more about Karen, follow this link to her website.  If you want to see her play, here’s a couple videos: Wooden Whale set, and Matty’s Appeal -Strathspey and Reel. At the workshop, she will take time to describe exactly what she does, and how to achieve the ornaments and styling that she uses.

The workshops are free, but we do encourage tipping the instructor, due the limitations on gatherings, and gigs that musicians have been facing for some time. We’ll give you the information on how to tip Karen at the workshop–   But, we should tell you now that Karen has a way for you to get her newly released CD, and not pay postage!

The CD, called “The Stroma Swelkie”, is yours for a $20 donation to Karen and she’ll ship the CD to you free of charge! You’ll hear new tunes she’s written, in addition to her favorite sets she’s previously recorded, 67 tunes in all!

If you haven’t received an email about this workshop, write to if you’d like to attend!  We’ll make sure you can join us!  See you soon!!




January Workshop: It’s Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Coming to You!

Coming soon to a screen near you!

This month, our usual two hour workshop transforms into an all weekend event. To read all about it, just click on the tabs at the top of this page that say “January WOW Workshop”. It is strongly recommended that you attend!

More news on our January session – which is normally the first weekend of the month! It may held on the third weekend, or just might be postponed until we get through the worst of this bad boy Omicron!

Cheers and stay healthy!

Sign Up for Something Sweet!

Did you know that December 8th is National Brownie Day?  What a treat😍!
But wait!  You say that with all the holiday feasting, you need an alternative to this decadent, calorie-laden treat?!   Here’s two options! They have  ZERO calories, no gluten, no dairy, and could be vegetarian as well!
You can sign up for the free Kevin Henderson Shetland fiddling workshop on December 12th- on line. ( More information in previous post below!)
While you’re signing up, how about registering for the Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas virtual WOW workshop!! It’s January 14th-16th.   Go to January “WOW: Workshop  for information and registering…. then, go have a brownie!

December Session Reminder-

Yes!  There’ll be one more session before the year closes out! Let’s make it a great one! We’ll be gathering on December 5th, at 2-4:30 PM, at the home of Donna Varnau.  Write to: – Don’t delay because spaces are limited.

You must be fully vaccinated and wear a mask to participate.  You’ll have so much fun playing tunes, you won’t notice you even have a mask on 😉

**** See below to learn about KEVIN HENDERSON’s workshop on December 12!!

December Happenings

Kevin Henderson

Hard to believe we’re winding down the year already!  But what a great way to celebrate– come to Kevin Henderson’s Shetland fiddling workshop on Sunday, December 12th! It’s free and it all starts at 11:30 PST- a bit earlier than normal, so don’t forget!  Write to Marcia Thumma to join us, if you’re not already on our mailing list- you’ll need that Zoom link!

Kevin is a fiddler who draws on the rich fiddle music tradition of his native Shetland. His experience includes playing with Boys of the Lough, Fiddler’s Bid, Session A9, and Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. All this has lead to an expressive and adventurous individual style of playing.

He was brought up in the Shetland school system, which had a heavy concentration on fiddle music, and he took lessons with the legendary Willie Hunter.

More recently, he’s moved to Norway and put his energy into Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, which features three very distinct musical styles from Norway, Sweden and Shetland. He’s also interested in the challenging music of Scott Skinner and Canadian tunes he studied in his earlier years.

When he’s not performing or touring, he teaches at a variety of fiddle camps, including Alasdair Frasier’s Sierra and Valley of the Moon fiddle camps.

Want to learn more about Kevin? Here’s a great video, as part of the June Fiddle Fest, organized by Ed Pearlman.  And, here is Kevin’s website and last but not least, he’s on Facebook here.

So, bring your favorite treats, hot cocoa, peppermint sticks, Scottish shortbread, what have you,  and see you then!


Brandon Vance Workshop November 14

We are delighted to announce that Brandon Vance will be coming back again to NW Scottish Fiddlers in November! Brandon has taught workshops in person for us, as well as last year on Zoom. This workshop also be on Zoom will start at 2 PM (Pacific Time), on Sunday, November 14th (yep, the 2nd Sunday of the month, vs. our usual 3rd Sunday of the month).

***UPDATE:  This just in!  In this workshop, Brandon will be covering various types of “shuffles” and bowing.  He’ll discuss how they apply to jigs, reels, and even strathspeys! There will also be a 3 page handout!! And of course, sheet music or dots, as we like to say, for tunes that are covered or introduced.***

And a few things about Brandon (to be brief is really difficult!): He’s an internationally acclaimed Scottish fiddler and a classical violinist! He was the youngest fiddler to win the U.S. National Open Scottish Fiddling Championship, in 1999 and in 2001. He has performed and taught internationally, for major events like the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy, and was a featured soloist at the 2017 Scottish Royal National Mod in Fort William.

On the classical violin side of his life, he has a B.M. and M.M. in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is a member of Chamber Orchestra Northwest Sinfonietta, and a baroque ensemble, Pacific Musicworks.

Here’s a wonderful video showing Brandon’s versatility and talent. Brandon starts with playing baroque Scottish music in this competition known as the  2021 Scottish Performing Arts Classic. (Be sure to watch the entire video- in the second set and beyond, he’s on fiddle!) Spoiler alert: he won the competition!

To learn more about Brandon, visit his website!

This will be a free workshop. Please note we’ll have a virtual tip jar for Brandon, as we continue to support musicians in this challenging time where live performances are just beginning to come back. We will also have sheet music after the workshop, audio and video recordings.

Please write to Marcia Thumma if you suspect that you’re not on our mailing list, and you’ll be included in the Saturday email, which holds the key to the workshop – our zoom link!