About Paul Carlson

I got my start playing violin when I was quite young. When I was just four years old, my parents asked me "Would you like to learn how to play the violin?" and I said "Sure!" I started in the Suzuki Method studying under Diana Peelle. I began playing in school and youth orchestras in 3rd grade, being in ensembles was part of my musical life from the beginning.

After college, I moved to North Carolina and thought I'd give fiddling a try. North Carolina is real bluegrass country and so I started playing it (after a short dabbling in Country Western). While playing bluegrass, I began listening to the roots of that tradition; the Celtic fiddling of Ireland, Scotland, and New England that I had heard in my youth.

I knew I had to dive into this music seriously. I was very fortunate to meet up with Jason Cade, an outstanding Irish fiddler and fiddle teacher living in my town. I studied under Jason for several years and fell in love with the drive, swing, and beautiful melodies of Celtic fiddle.

Nordic Fiddling

So how did I decide to take up Nordic fiddling too? I have Swedish ancestry and several of my relatives were writers, artists, and musicians. I thought I'd try out Swedish fiddle and was again lucky to have one of America's best Swedish fiddle players, Bart Brashers, living in my town. He had formed a music group (a spelmanslag in Swedish) which I joined right away. I played with the spelmanslag for several years until I moved to the D.C. area.

I have completed Suzuki Violin Method teacher training under master teacher Ronda Cole. I also traveled to Finland to attend the Nordlek and Kaustinen Folk Music Festivals. There I played with and spent time discussing teaching and music with some of the top players and legends of traditional Nordic music. My thanks to the Finlandia Foundation and the American Scandinavian Association for their generous grants which made this trip possible.

Here in the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area, I play with the Nordic Dancers of DC and Scandia DC. I do freelance performances too. Please let me know if you would like me to play for your event!


Fiddle lessons? Violin lessons? Why not both? What's the difference?