Stringmania acknowledges the traditional custodianship of Country across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. We acknowledge in particular the Wurundjeri people as traditional custodians of the land upon which Stringmania Camp takes place. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connection to Country. We pay our respects to the Elders both past, present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Indigenous Australians.

Stringmania thanks  Bill and Dianne Sides

2019 Tutors


Classical Indian vocal

Kathak (Northern Indian) dance

A passionate performer and educator, Parvyn started singing, dancing and performing at the age of 5 as part of a band led by her father Dya Singh, often taking time off school to tour nationally and internationally to America, Canada, the UK, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, India and more. She is globally renowned as the lead female singer of Melbourne’s original Bollywood outfit The Bombay Royale, performs with her husband Josh Bennett and music chameleon Andrew Clermont in the band BluGuru, and with jazz pianist extraordinaire and vocalist Hue Blanes.

Parvyn regularly travels to Ahmedabad, India to study classical Indian vocal and Kathak dance. She has been attending internationally acclaimed Kadmab Dance Academy headed by Smt. Kumidini Lakhia and has been taught by Sandhya Desai and Sunjukta Sinha since 2007. Vocally, she learns from Shivani Patel from the Saptak School of Music.


Internationally, she has performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Salmon Arm Folk Festival, Hillside Festival in Canada, California World Music Festival, Glastonbury, Womad UK, Cambridge Folk Festival, Royal Albert Hall, Singapore Arts Festival, the Smithsonian Institute, and extensively across Sikh community venues all over the globe. Parvyn will be teaching Kathak dance, alongside the vocal and instrumental music, stories and rhythms that inform it.

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Josh Bennett


Josh Bennett is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, and performer with a love of music from all over the world. Equally at home on guitar, sitar, dilruba (bowed sitar), fiddle, mandolin and tabla, he's one of Australia's most versatile musicians. His guitar playing melds African Marabi rhythms and Celtic melodies, and his mandolin playing is in high demand in bluegrass circles. He is currently playing with alt-bluegrass, post-boyband Mustered Courage. After initially learning sitar from Professor Michael Junius (a sitar and surbahar player who studied in India for 18 years at the feet of great masters such as Prof. Shushill Branja, Prof. Banwarilal, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Asad Ali Khan and Pandit Gopal Das), Josh was hooked, and now regularly travels to Ahmedabad, India to learn sitar from Smt. Manju Mehta, a disciple of Pt. Ravi Shankar.


Josh is a regular on the Australian festival circuit, often performing at Woodford, Fairbridge, the National, Womadelaide, Brisbane World Music and Adelaide Guitar festivals. Internationally, he's performed at the Hillside, Winnipeg, Salmon Arm and Blue Skies Festivals in Canada, the California and Chicago World Music Festivals in the USA, the Penang World Music Festival in Malaysia and the Saptak Classical Music Festival in India. Josh will be hosting daily guitar/mandolin classes, sitar classes/sessions plus teaching Indian music and dance alongside Parvyn.

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Joe D’Esposito


Joe D’Esposito is a multi-genre American fiddler and cellist, whose work with bluegrass band The Railsplitters has seen him tour the USA, UK and Australia with appearances at The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Celtic Connections and Woodford Folk Festival. He’s a vibrant and animated performer, with a distinctive improvisation style that combines elements of the traditions and genres he’s amalgamated throughout his career.

While growing up in a family band with constant exposure to jazz, celtic, rock, bluegrass and classical music, Joe also studied with multi-genre violinist Earl Maneein, and gained a foundation in a wide variety of styles. He studied violin and music education at Ithica College and is now a dedicated educator himself, especially passionate about helping string players find freedom both in improvising and physically in their bodies while playing. Outside of music, he lives a strict zero-waste lifestyle, makes his clothes and possessions out of recycled materials and bakes lots of bread.

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Monique Clare

Cello, Voice and Songwriting

Monique Bartkowiak is an Australian cellist, singer-songwriter, facilitator and educator. As a performer she specialises in arranging and coordinating vocal and cello parts in intricate, innovative ways, using non-classical cello techniques to work rhythm, bass, percussion and harmony into her cello accompaniments. Having grown up with choir directors for parents, she has a solid foundation of vocal training and is obsessed with finding links between string and vocal technique and the process of strengthening and refining the voice to match the instrument.

She performs in her solo project as Monique Clare, as a backing cellist and singer for The Maes, and has worked as a session musician for fiddlers Darol Anger and Hanneke Cassel as well as more mainstream artists including Kate Miller-Heidke, Eminem and The Whitlams. Touring with The Maes has taken her to Canada, the UK, Ireland and the USA, with shows at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Orkney Folk Festival and Doolin Folk Festival. She’s passionate about getting string players exploring the full spectrum of their instruments’ capabilities, and she regularly teaches at camps, runs workshops and has begun facilitating her own folk music camps.

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Emily-Rose Sarkova

Composition and Arrangement


Emily-Rose is one of Australia’s most dynamic and versatile young musicians. A graduate in classical piano from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she also studied in France and Germany. She is equally renowned for her skills in voice, piano accordion and composition, and has recently added the Argentine Bandoneón to her multi-instrumentalist palette. Since graduating in 2010 she has continued as a founding member of enchanting nomadic folk-jazz group Chaika, established the highly successful Tango ensemble Tángalo, and has performed and toured with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, triple Aria award winning group Monsieur Camembert, early music ensemble The Marais Project, and Latin Grammy nominated duo Duo Ramirez-Satorre among many others.

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Greg Sheehan



At the age of 4, Greg began playing percussion after being inspired by a drummer whom Greg thought was a magician! Beginning on pots and pans, then onto drums at the age of 9, Greg was in four musical outfits by the time he was 11. One of these was a traditional Irish Ceili Band. At 17 years of age, he became a professional musician and eventually went on to play with many of the giants of Irish music, including Donal Lunny, Sinead O’Connor, Martin Hayes, Hothouse Flowers, Paddy Keenan, Andy Irvine, and Steve Cooney. He has also toured with many other international acts including touring with the Sharon Shannon Band in 2019 appearing at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Womadelaide and Womad New Zealand playing his humble but incredible tambourine!

Greg loves to share his knowledge of rhythm and has developed a unique system, known as Rhythm Diamonds, which are used by hundreds of musicians around the world. His absolute joy and delight in sharing anything to do with rhythm and pattern is infectious! One of a kind…. “Astonishing!” John Shand, S.M.H.

Greg is an incredibly humble man, but his significance in the Australian music scene should not be underestimated! Head to his blog to read about what Greg and his music means to some of the leading musicians our country has to offer.

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© Hands Up For Trad  

Margaret Robertson
Shetland Fiddle 


Margaret Robertson is an inspirational figure on the Shetland music scene as a fiddler, pianist, teacher and composer. She has made an impact nationally and internationally with her own music and musicianship as well as in her capacity as organiser of the fiddle element in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s Pipers Trail, which has visited Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Norway. Margaret won the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year competition at the age of fifteen and was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Watching young players develop is, she says, a real joy and she particularly enjoys going to concerts given by former pupils. Among these are her sons, Ryan and Ross Couper, both now professional musicians who followed Margaret in winning the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year title.

As a composer Margaret is a self-confessed late starter, who was so annoyed that she couldn’t get into Lerwick to join Simon Thoumire in a session he’d put the word out about that she sat down and wrote her first tune at the age of twenty-eight. Many others have followed, some to order, some hummed or whistled while driving, and have featured on Margaret’s own two albums, and on her extensive discography.

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Alasdair Fraser
co-Director and Fiddle
Renowned performer and master teacher of the rich fiddling tradition of Scotland, Alasdair inspires us to higher and deeper levels of self-expression within an embracing community of listeners, learners and like-minded folk. The variety and expressivity of Alasdair's playing is evident in his numerous recordings from intimate fiddle/guitar duets, to more contemporary interpretations of tradition and high energy original tunes with his Skyedance band. Highly acclaimed albums include 'Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vols. 1 and 2', and 'Fire and Grace' with cellist Natalie Haas which was named Scots Trad. Album of the Year for 2004. Since its release, the two have gone on to record three more critically acclaimed albums that blend a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition with cutting-edge string explorations. In Alasdair's class, you will learn a variety of Scottish tune types, how to use special bowings, ornaments and a rhythmic drive to make the tunes come alive.
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© Irene Young  

Natalie Haas



Natalie Haas is one of the most sought-after cellists in Celtic music today. She and Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser have toured as a duo for nearly 20 years, wowing audiences at festivals and concerts worldwide with their unique sound. She has appeared on over 50 albums, including those of Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster, Irish greats Altan, Solas and Liz Carroll, and Americana icon Dirk Powell. Natalie has also toured with Mark O'Connor as a member of his Appalachia Waltz Trio.


A graduate of the Juilliard School, Natalie is currently based in Boston, where she is an associate professor of cello at Berklee College of Music.

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© Bradley Cummings 

Holly Downes

Double Bass

Holly Downes is an Australian bassist, composer and educator who holds a Bachelor of Music from the Australian National University and was nominated for the Freedman Classical Fellowship in 2014. As bassist with The String Contingent, she has toured Australia, NZ, UK, Sweden and Finland, playing hundreds of concerts and festivals over the past eight years, simultaneously re-inventing the role of the instrument, showcasing its melodic capabilities and exploring diverse accompaniment textures and techniques.
Holly also performs regularly with Melbourne-based singer songwriter, Lucy Wise, and is a member of the Canberra-based contemporary chamber music group, The Griffyn Ensemble. She has performed extensively with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, nationally and internationally with the Australian Youth Orchestra, and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. Holly holds a Postgraduate Diploma in psychology from Melbourne University, where her research included auditory processing and pitch perception in music. She has taught at many music camps including Alasdair Fraser’s Skye Fiddle Camp in Scotland, Stringmania 2016 - 2018, Riverina Summer School for Strings, the past four Young Music Society Summer Camps and the new Wild Strings winter school in Canberra.
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© Brian Rosenberg  

Chris Stone

co-Director and Fiddle

Chris Stone is an Australian violinist/fiddler, composer and educator who holds a BMus from the Australian National University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Music Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently working on a PhD in violin improvisation at the ANU. He began his musical life as a Scottish fiddler and, at the age of 16, travelled to America, where stalwarts of the American acoustic music scene inspired him to expand his musical horizons. He is a passionate advocate for and teacher of cross-genre string playing.

In 2009, Chris founded the renowned acoustic chamber-folk trio The String Contingent, who have since toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Chris has also performed widely with Melbourne-based singer songwriter Lucy Wise and is a member of the Canberra-based contemporary chamber music group The Griffyn Ensemble. He has taught all ages and stages at camps including Alasdair Fraser’s Skye Fiddle Camp in Scotland, Sunshine Fiddle Camp in Queensland, Riverina Summer School for Strings, Stringmania 2016 – 2018 and is the director of Wild Strings, a new winter string camp in Canberra for school age players.

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Past Tutors



Natalie Haas - Cello (USA)

Alasdair Fraser - Fiddle (USA/Scotland)

Jaron Freeman-Fox - Fiddle, Viola D'amore? (Canada)

Simon Nyberg - 12-string guitar (Sweden)

Dr Nicholas Ng - Erhu

Jingjing Lu - Guzheng (Chinese harp)

Emily-Rose Sarkova - Tango

Kavisha Mazzella/Lucy Wise - Song

Greg Sheehan - Percussion

Rachel Johnston - Cello

Holly Downes - Double Bass

Chris Stone - Fiddle

Graham McLeod - Guitar/slow jam

Michael O'Donnell - General Malarkey (jazz/improv.)




Natalie Haas - Cello (USA)

Alasdair Fraser - Fiddle (USA/Scotland)

Adam Sutherland - Fiddle (Scotland)

Mike Bryan - Guitar (Scotland)

Shane Lestideau - Baroque fiddle

Davydd McDonald - Dance

Monique Bartkowiak - Cello/voice

Holly Downes - Double bass

Lucy Wise - Song

Paddy Montgomery - Laouto (Lute)

George Vardakis - Lira

Greg Sheehan - Percussion

Chris Stone - Fiddle

Louise Godwin - Cello



Judy Turner - Fiddle

Natalie Haas - Cello (USA)

Alasdair Fraser - Fiddle (USA/Scotland)

Catriona MacDonald - Fiddle (Shetland)

Timo Alakotila - Piano (Finland)

Cathy Fraser - Fiddle

Gina Williams - Song

Peter Vadiveloo - Percussion

Jenny Thomas - Fiddle/voice

Davyyd Macdonald - Dance

Chris Stone - Fiddle

Holly Downes - Double bass

Monique Bartkowiak - Cello/voice

Michelle Doyle - Harp

Louisa Wise - Fiddle