Fiddles In the Forest Package

a unique experience incorporating music and nature (for string programs)

Fiddles in the Forest is a new music camp for young string players. It combines top-flight strings instruction with singing, dancing, nature hikes, and some very special hands-on crafts. Students learn fiddle tunes by ear on violin, viola, cello and bass, along with body percussion, harmony singing and fun, easy folk dances. Great melodies are taught along with rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment, and more advanced students get to explore multilevel ensemble arrangements with parts available for guitar, piano and other instruments. Team building and community are an underlying theme at Fiddles In the Forest as students work and play together in the inspiring beauty of the natural world.

Classes & Activities:

– Fiddling for Orchestras
– Body Percussion
– Singing
– Hike to Cathedral Gorge
– Blacksmithing

Evening Programs: Dance, Campfire

What you get:


Not far from the foundation of Ashokan’s  original blacksmith forge are two fully functioning blacksmith shops. Sparks will fly as students use ancient tools to hammer iron into a fire poker, trivet, or plant hanger under the guidance of our master craftspeople (and help their classmates by pumping the bellows or hauling coal). Students will discuss concepts such as industrialization, renewable vs. nonrenewable resources, and the role of blacksmithing in colonial life.

Body Percussion

Heighten your coordination and focus by synchronizing sound and movement as a group. This program is available as part of the Fiddles in the Forest experience. Watch the video.

Fiddle Music for Orchestras

Learn traditional fiddle tunes and techniques on the fiddle, viola, cello, or bass from our talented guest instructors. This program is available as part of the Fiddles in the Forest experience. Watch the video.

Hike to Cathedral Gorge

Hike through an old Eastern Hemlock forest along the Esopus Creek and explore the natural and social history of the region! The trail passes relics of the recent and prehistoric past, including a 19th-century water mill, a 130-year-old covered bridge, and a glacial gorge, before it ends at a 80-foot waterfall—the walls of which reveal rock layers that are millions of years old.


Vocalize with guest instructors who know how to help you connect your musicality and feeling to your breath. This program is available as part of the Fiddles in the Forest experience.

Choose one more:

Tinsmithing and Broom Making

Students work together to make beautiful, functional crafts using colonial methods and tools. They will learn about the raw materials they’re using and question how the industrial revolution has changed the way we acquire and repair tools today (including the environmental implications). Each student will go home with a deeper appreciation for handmade crafts!

Evening Options:

Folk Dance

Strengthen community while finding joy in traditional circle, square, and contra dancing. This program is available as part of the Fiddles in the Forest experience.

Campfire (Outdoor or Indoor) with S’mores!

Enjoy an hour-long full-group campfire experience with warm s’mores, jokes, songs, and stories from the Ashokan staff. In the event of inclement weather we will create a similar experience indoors!

Create – Perform – Respond – Connect.

Create:  At Fiddles In The Forest students learn new melodies along with multi-level harmony and rhythm parts. The music is arranged and developed with the group in preparation for a final sharing performance at the end of the workshop. Important musical concepts such as melody, harmony, pitch, tonality, rhythm, phrasing, breathing, etc, are introduced. In keeping with many folk music traditions the music is taught aurally (by ear), but sheet music can be made available. Learning by ear is beneficial for all aspiring musicians as it strengthens one’s capacity for listening and supports good intonation, rhythm and ensemble playing. 

Respond: Responding and reflecting on new material and experiences are key elements of Fiddles in the Forest. Throughout the workshop students are encouraged to reflect and share their experiences through guided conversation. Much of the deepening and integration of learning happens through this reflection process. Students benefit greatly by hearing the experiences of their peers and sharing their own ideas with the group. From the satisfaction of meeting new challenges and learning new skills, to the joys of being surrounded by art, nature and a supportive community, there is much to share. 

Perform: Children are invited to play and speak before an audience of their peers. By modeling inclusive, safe performance spaces we work to build positive associations around being one stage. Performing can be a tool of positive personal, social and artistic development that lifts people up and invites them out of their shells.
Connect: Fostering an integrated, safe social space is one of the most important and transformative aspects of Fiddles in the Forest. Through integrated learning activities such as folk dancing, harmony singing and team building activities, strong bonds of friendship and trust are formed. Historical aspects of the music and location are highlighted throughout the weekend, building connections between past, present and future. We ask students to unplug from their devices and phones during the majority of the weekend to help them connect more deeply with each other and the experience as a whole.