Fiddlekids Staff Bios

Kaila Flexer
Kaila Flexer
Balkan, Greek

Kaila Flexer is mesmerized by the music of the Balkans and Eastern Europe and loves sharing it with her students. As a performer, Kaila founded and recorded both original and traditional music with bands Third Ear, Next Village and duo Teslim (with oud player Gari Hegedus). She maintains a thriving teaching studio in Oakland and travels afar to teach workshops and music camps. Kaila is currently taking a break from performing to compose and record.

Miguel Govea
Miguel Govea
Mexican Regional

Multi-instrumentalist Miguel Govea (trumpet, guitarrón, diatonic accordion, fiddle, trombone, sousaphone, clarinet, vocals) grew up in Bakersfield, California. He remembers playing trumpet with his schoolmates, drumming on his dad’s old pickup with his neighborhood friends, and learning guitar from his cousins on occasional trips to Mexico City. His parents and siblings were deeply involved in the Mexican–American farmworker struggles of the 1960s. Since the 1980s, he has played and recorded with many of the first wave of Chicano musicians that emerged in the decades prior, as well as with countless Bay Area salsa luminaries. He performs with his wife Susan Peña and their two daughters Rene and Cecilia as La Familia Pena-Govea. They have played at venues as varied as Davies Symphony Hall to San Quentin Prison. Miguel will be sharing his repertoire of Mexican regional fiddle music.

Karen Heil
Karen Heil
Old Time

Karen Heil, a skillful, fun, and enthusiastic teacher, is an expert fiddler and guitarist with a special love of old-time southern American fiddle music. Karen has been part of the teaching staff at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Grass Valley Camp, Lark in the Morning Camp, Austin Old Time Festival, the Gainsborough festival in the UK, and the Freight’s own ongoing classes. She performs and records with the acclaimed Old Time band, the Bucking Mules, and on the West Coast as KC & the MooNshine Band. A natural livewire, she brings lots of spark and current to fiddlekids!

Leslie Keir
Leslie Keir
Art

Leslie Keir has taught Art to kids for many years in schools, camps and residencies [16!]. Her teaching style is fluid, supportive and highly collaborative. Beholding the ways that each artist responds to ideas and materials continues to delight and inspire her. Via a strange coincidence Leslie is also an old time fiddler, guitar player and singer; teaching at fiddlekids will combine many things that Leslie holds most dear.

Evie Ladin
Evie Ladin
Dance

Evie Ladin is a banjo player, step-dancer, singer, songwriter and square-dance caller with a lifetime of experience in traditional American cultural arts. The polyrhythmic funk of her clawhammer banjo, resonant voice, and rhythmic dance have been heard from “A Prairie Home Companion” to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. She is also the Executive Director of the International Body Music Festival. A teacher at fiddlekids for over 10 years, Evie skillfully connects the music to dance traditions. She firmly believes that understanding the music and the dance makes any player a better musician.

Caroline McCaskey
Caroline McCaskey
Scottish

Caroline McCaskey’s enthusiastic teaching style has fostered a love of music in both children and adults for over 15 years.  Caroline joined the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers at age 12, and went on to tour Northern California for 7 years as the leader of the Fiddlerats contra dance band. She is certified by the Suzuki Association of the Americas for Violin books 1-7, and now teaches Suzuki violin full time at Bristol Elementary School in Colorado Springs. Caroline began as an assistant at fiddlekids in 2002, and joined the ranks of the Instructors in 2009. Exciting news: Caroline’s books AltStrings Fiddle Method for Violin Book 1 and Book 2 came out this spring!

Julian Smedley
Julian Smedley
Camp Director

Julian Smedley teaches, performs and produces music in the Pacific Northwest. Now in his 4th year as director of Fiddlekids camp, he thrives on teaching summer camps, High School music ensembles and performing as a violinist, guitarist and singer in a variety of acoustic music groups. In 2011, after 26 years in the Bay Area, Julian returned to Seattle and found himself in demand as an audio producer, skills he had nurtured while living and recording in the UK. He is currently working on a steady stream of recording projects as well as wearing the inevitable number of hats required of a professional musician!