I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Natalie Myers through various stages of our lives. When Julian Oliver was a child, he fondly recounted playing and learning at her home with her kids. Later, I had the pleasure of meeting her daughter, Courtney Hartman, an exceptional guitar player and singer-songwriter.

When Natalie joined Fiddle School, it brought me great joy! She excelled in the Mastery Certification Program and diligently worked her way through Sessions 1 and 2. I’ve been truly inspired by her rapid progress, musical abilities, and her kindness within the fiddle community. I am certain that you will enjoy hearing her story!

How long have you been playing?

3 years.

How did you start fiddling?

ALL of my kids play a musical instrument and they began by playing Suzuki violin. Shinichi Suzuki’s teaching approach relies heavily upon parental involvement. So I spent many years playing Book 1 and Book 2 Suzuki Violin with kiddos. I am sold on early Music and Art education!!

But if Fiddle School had been around then, we definitely would have started them out with Katie’s precept-upon-precept schooling. Some of my kids competed at Weiser and they eventually made the jump to the Bluegrass genre. The fiddle community at large is very family-friendly and inclusive. It was a real gift to raise kids surrounded by such loving people.

Katie was playing at City Star Brewery in Berthoud a few years ago and she mentioned that she had started an online fiddle school. I had been taking a few Irish fiddle lessons from my friend, Janell Vanderwarf, who is in the Irish band, Once Upon A Tune. It was really challenging to remember her lessons/tunes so having a methodology where I could go back and review the lessons was a major draw. And my friend, Michelle Oliver, always raved about Katie’s lessons for Julian. So I thought, it would be well worth my time to explore a new option. So glad I did!!

What are your favorite styles/songs to play and why?

Irish, Texas Style and Swing. Last year, I went through Mastery 3 class and fell in love with Morningstar Waltz. Shifting and vibrato are fun and new skills.

How has Fiddle School influenced your playing?

Well, I am certain that I would NOT be playing if it weren’t for the supportive Fiddle School community, teachers and wonderful curriculum. I needed a system that would help me to focus as I tend to chase blingy objects and activities and get off the learning track!

What’s the most important thing music brings to your life?

Lots of things. Where should I start? Joy, first and foremost; peace, a sense of hope, a healthy diversion, friendships, dancing, emotional release, focus, and it keeps the mental cobwebs from taking over to practice every day.

Tell us about the musical activities you do outside of Fiddle School.

Well, I LOVE playing every other Friday with Lisa Harper’s Zoom group. It is open to everyone and I highly recommend it! Laura Boschma and I attended the Oskar Blues jam in Lyons on Tuesday nights a few times which was wow, an amazingly skillful group of players. One man has been going there for the past 30 years.

That is it really for musical activities other than playing guitar and singing at home with my 80-year-old Mom and youngest son, Jesse, who is 21 and has Down Syndrome. He is tone deaf but I have never met anyone that sings with greater enthusiasm. Who doesn’t need more of that in life, right?

I hosted a jam this past Spring for Fiddle Schoolers at my house and we had a great time. I would like to make that a regular happening. Are you ready, Fiddle Peeps?

What is your practice routine like?

Early mornings work best. I set a timer for 30 minutes and usually begin with a Practice Pal. And the rest of the time on whatever is new. Currently, that would be the tunes for camp. YEE-HAW!! Can’t wait! I am also learning the tunes from Mastery 3 that I didn’t learn last year. Then I stretch briefly and reset the timer for another 30 minutes and review tunes. I found that this works best 6 days a week. If I take too much time off, it is harder to get back on the horse so to speak.

Are you enrolled in Mastery Certification? What are some wins or milestones you’ve experienced as a Mastery fiddler?

I have 3 Mastery Certifications but chose not to participate this year. I thought that I might have to stop playing altogether because my left shoulder was giving me a lot of pain due to the repetitive motion and I was holding the violin with too much tension. Celeste, Katie, and Chris Daring helped show different holds but I also hired a personal trainer and do daily shoulder and arm exercises. After 6 months, I can finally play again for longer lengths of time. If anyone needs a personal trainer, Kathy at Anytime Fitness in Berthoud is legit! YEAH!!

My biggest win was competing at the National Stock Show and placing in the top five! That was a total shocker! I didn’t even prepare another round of tunes because I honestly, thought there was no chance in XXXX that I would place. So when Ingrid came and told me, my jaw dropped to the floor. It was a really fun experience. Having back-ups Celeste, Julian, and Adam there felt very reassuring for a first-time competitor.

Anything else you’d like us to know about your musical life?

Not really. I just wanted to tell each of my fellow students, thank you. Thank you for sticking with it and persevering. Thank you teachers and staff for being SO supportive. I have so much fun with ya’ll and look forward to our musical future together!!

Join us in celebrating Natalie’s ongoing musical journey at Fiddle School, and stay tuned for more spotlights on extraordinary fiddlers shaping the vibrant musical community we cherish.