The New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble

Main Coaches, Organizers

Ellen Carlson, Nottingham, NH

She learned how to fiddle from square dance players when she was 11 and 12.  She never studied violin but taught herself after her introductory fiddle lessons. She was motivated by the desire to play in her brother Darrell's country/rock/bluegrass band. There was always music in her family. She spent time playing with many square dance, old-time and bluegrass players but loves all kinds of music and has studied the intricacies' of the many styles. She spent 15 years teaching middle school math but now just fiddles for a living. She co-runs the Fiddleheads Acoustic Jam Camp and teaches at Fiddle Hell, Wernick Jam Camps, Grey Fox, Joe Val and Pemi Valley. She has numerous album credits including her own album that received a coveted highlight review in Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine.


Melissa Bragdon Caron, Scarborough, ME

She is known for playing and teaching many different styles of music. Classically trained, she went on to study music education at the University of Maine at Orono. While in college, Melissa became interested in the fiddling styles of Celtic music. She has been performing Irish music ever since, around New England and in Ireland! She has taught general music, beginning strings, and the high school orchestra in the Windham School System. Soon after moving to Portland, Maine, Melissa became acquainted with the bluegrass band "Jerks of Grass" and has been a part of the band since 2006. She has been greatly involved with the development of 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth, Maine, since it began 2004. Melissa currently teaches at Portsmouth Music and Arts Center and at her home studio in Scarborough, Maine. Melissa enjoys spending her days with her young sons Daniel and Aidan.


Shana Aisenberg, Freedom, NH

On any given day you can hear Shana playing in various musical contexts from Appalachian Old-time to Eastern-European Klezmer to fingerstyle blues. Shana regularly fiddles for contra dances, plays piano and directs the choir every Sunday morning at church, and sings original songs at coffeehouses. She performs with String Equinox and other groups and has recorded numerous albums as a soloist and session musician. In addition to writing instruction books for ukulele, guitar and mandolin, she teaches at workshops and festivals nationwide and teaches locally both individually and in groups. Shana loves teaching players of any level. Visit Shana online at


Paul Smith, Lee, NH

He is in his 4th Fiddle Ensemble. He is very appreciative of the experience. The Ensemble provides a great reason to play music with his wife, Valerie, daughters Audrey and Shelby, niece and nephew Emily and William Pessina and sister Monica Pessina. Paul is also in a band with Valerie and his brother in law Craig Pessina. A heartfelt thanks to Ellen and Melissa for giving this husband, dad, uncle, brother and brother-in law inspiration and the tools to play music with his family.


Jane Orzechowski, Newport, NH

Jane Orzechowski plays traditional New England dance tunes and started playing for contras, square dances as a teenager. She plays Swedish traditional fiddle music in addition to Celtic and French-Canadian tunes. Her bands include Old New England (formerly with Bob McQuillen) and her family’s Sugar River Band. She has performed with Christmas Revels, Summer Solstice Festivals at Revels North productions and at various traditional music festivals. She has recorded with Old New England, Dudley Laufman, Sarah Bauhan, Green Mountain Volunteers, David Surette and for Smithsonian Folkways. 

2019-2020 Certified Ensemble Teachers:

Liz Faiella, Steve Roy, Paul Smith, Taylor Blankenship, Heather Mike, Jane Orzechowski, Shana Aisenberg, Melissa Bragdon Caron, and Ellen Carlson.