Cathy Rayner Music

Fun Fiddle lessons for all ages!

Does This Sound Like You?

You want to play folk music, but…


You struggle with intonation and technique…


You can’t recreate the driving, rhythmic sound you hear and suspect it isn’t represented in the notation…


You want to play with other musicians, but you aren’t sure if you are ready…


You want to ditch “the dots” and learn to play by ear…


You aren’t able to play up to speed…


Maybe you are a seasoned player, ready to take your playing to the “next level” and you need some guidance on how to get there…

Fret Not!


You can learn to play traditional music with good technique and style! No matter what your musical background!


I’ll help you to create something beautiful, play successfully with others, and achieve that rhythmic sound you are looking for!


This music is meant to be played together, so lets have some fun!

Hi! I’m Cathy 

I love working with students who are enthusiastic and curious to explore traditional music on the fiddle and/or mandolin.  In the studio, we can dive deep into traditional Irish, or decide to explore a range of styles, from Old-Time to Ragtime, Celtic to Bluegrass.  Perhaps a bit of each!  My aim as a teacher is to help you successfully and joyfully make music for yourself and with others, no matter what style you play.

“The violin sings, but the fiddle dances.”


“I’ve had the pleasure of receiving fiddle instruction from Cathy for over a year now, and I couldn’t recommend her enough.  She has all the qualities you’d hope for in a great teacher.  She’s patient, incredibly skilled at her instrument, and is able to relate information in a way that’s understandable and exciting to experience for oneself.  I also teach music and have had many other music teachers in my life, but rarely have I looked forward to my lessons like I have with Cathy.  I’m very glad I have her experience and expertise to lean on and learn from.”

Mario Lagasse

Exploring Folk Fiddle

“Before my love of Irish music led me to fiddle lessons with Cathy, I had some familiarity with playing classical style on the instrument but was tired of playing alone.  During the three years we have been working together,  I have expanded my repertoire and improved my left-hand precision and speed.  More importantly, I now have a friendship with my bow!  I have lost the unbearable scratchy sound and am able to play more confidently and rhythmically.  I attribute my progress to Cathy’s patience, encouragement, and ability to tailor her teaching to my personal strengths and learning style.  This is my third year taking lessons with Cathy and I’m happy to say that I have recently joined an intermediate group of Irish musicians who play at local sessions and perform at small gigs in town.  Continuing to progress in my playing, speed, rhythm, texture, and relaxing my left and right hands are my next areas of focus.”

Erin Burns-Flett

Irish Traditional Style Development

“I have been learning to play Irish tunes by reading written music but have been frustrated that I could not easily pick up tunes without having that music in front of me.

Cathy started off by asking me my mandolin playing goals and has tailored my lessons to those personal goals. She has especially tailored my lessons to achieve my goal of learning to play by ear and has been very patient and encouraging. With each new tune we work on I find that I am able to pick up sections of the music more easily and feel more confident in my playing.

Cathy has introduced some music theory in small easy to understand bites to provide me with a better understanding of music basics. This will help me to better identify and understand patterns in the music we play, patterns that I did not appreciate before I started lessons with her.”

Virginia Lockett

Irish Mandolin player - Play by ear/Style Development

“I have attended several Irish fiddle workshops held by Cathy over the course of two years, and I have been in her bi-weekly group class since September 2023.  My experience with Cathy’s teaching has been nothing but phenomenal. She is technically proficient with the violin and plays with superb intonation and projection, but what keeps me going back to her workshops and classes is her ability to explain and teach the idiosyncrasies of Irish fiddling with easy, bite-sized lessons and exercises..

One of the best things about her teaching is how she makes everyone feel comfortable and welcomed in her classes, especially in workshops open to the public where there is a diversity of ages, experiences, and skill levels…Her classes are always fun, engaging, and dynamic because we all get chances to play on our own and voice our opinions or questions despite being in a larger group setting.  Cathy’s infectiously wholesome, positive, and upbeat energy makes me look forward to every one of her classes.”

Boris Leung

traditional Irish workshop/group class participant

“I’ve been taking fiddle lessons with Cathy for a short time during which she has helped me improve different techniques. Cathy explains things in such a way that I can understand what I need to do in order to achieve my goals. If I’m struggling with a certain part in a piece, Cathy breaks things down in a way that helps me to understand why I’m struggling and what it is I need to do or need to practice. I have walked into a lesson thinking I’m not going to be able to play a certain piece or part of a piece and by the end of the lesson I’m playing it.  Cathy never puts any pressure on me, I learn at the rate I would like to learn. Her welcoming and pleasant attitude makes every lesson enjoyable.”

Darlene Tkach

Exploring Folk Fiddle

“One of the best things in my life has been taking fiddle lessons with Cathy.  Before training, it was difficult to make progress because the issues I had with technique felt like road blocks.  Over the years, Cathy has consistently helped me to find solutions to the difficulties I’ve struggled with in learning to play the instrument with good technique and style. With application and practice, my frustration has turned into success.  One of the things she told me on my first lesson was that there was no substitute for lots of hours of practice.  Remembering this has helped me to stay encouraged when things were challenging.  The net result of all of this is the ability to engage in the most rewarding, enjoyable, activity possible!  What was once a distant musical dream, seemingly out of reach, has now become real!!”

Phil Hugill

Exploring Folk Fiddle

“My son, Asher has been playing violin for 5 years.  He relies on his ear to play music and that has caused him frustration and a bit of confusion when trying to play in the second and third position with his more advanced pieces.  He was missing the ‘why’ and the small details written on the musical sheet.

To strengthen his musical knowledge, we took music theory classes from Cathy.  This was an excellent decision as Asher had several ‘ah-ha’ moments when relating music theory to his peices and scales.

Cathy was always prepared for the lessons and adapted her teaching to Asher’s learning style.  When the summer lessons were done, Asher’s violin teacher commented on his improved intonation!  Understanding the theory has made playing violin even more enjoyable for him.”

Tamara Schroeder

Mother of theory student- summers 2022-23

“Cathy is an excellent teacher who made music theory easy to follow.  I enoyed learning the bass clef notes on the keyboard and working along with her in the workbooks.

She is a very gentle and encouraging teacher.  Her pencils were nice and sharp and ready to use smile

Asher Schroeder

Theory student- age 12

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