Our Instructors


Passim instructors come from all different backgrounds, and include local full-time musicians, visiting artists from all around the world, and music instrustry professionals. They specialize in many different genres of music, from folk to jazz to blues, Celtic, and beyond.


Hanneke Cassel

Laura Cortese

Janet Feld

Natali Freed

Matt Heaton

Ben Krakauer

Bertrand Laurence

jojo Lazar

Eric McDonald

Katie McNally

Jenna Moynihan

Austin Nevins

Annie Raines

Paul Rishell

Rosa Elena Rivera

Charlie Rose

Lloyd Thayer

Mariel Vandersteel

Brock Walsh

Stash Wyslouch



Hanneke Cassel - Fiddle

Hanneke Cassel"Exuberant and rhythmic, somehow both wild and innocent, delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness," says the Boston Globe about Hanneke Cassel’s playing. Such charismatic fiddling has brought Hanneke many honors and awards. She is the 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, she holds a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Berklee College of Music, and she has performed and taught across the U.S., Scotland, Sweden, China, New Zealand, France, England, and Austria. In addition to her solo act, Hanneke tours regularly with many groups including Childsplay, Ensemble Galilei, and Halali.



Laura Cortese – Fiddle

Laura Cortese PhotoBy welding the propulsive grace of ancient fiddle styles with openhearted, original pop songs, Laura Cortese has emerged as one of the most intriguing and versatile musicians in the New England post-folk scene. Laura is at home in any number of traditional styles. Her work as a supporting musician (on fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Uncle Earl, Tao Rodriguez Seeger, Band of Horses, and—as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden—Patterson Hood and Michael Franti.  Laura also teaches at the Miles of Music Camp, which she cofounded.


Janet Feld - Guitar and Songwriting
Janet Feld PhotoJanet Feld has been performing in clubs and coffeehouses around the country (and a small bit overseas) and teaching music since the mid-1980s. She believes that everyone who has the desire to play music should take a leap of faith and sign up for lessons or classes; everyone can succeed with the right instructor. Janet teaches general music, guitar, piano, and songwriting to people of all ages at Passim, Pope John Paul II Academy, Dorchester Lower Mills and Columbia campuses, Shady Hill School, and Camp Grossman. Janet recently released a new CD titled, “I Met Myself.” Follow Janet's blog here.


Natali Freed - Voice

Growing up in a musical family in PA, Natali was introduced to the joy of singing early on - being put on stage as a kid by her musical Mom; and singing / playing instruments in group, solo, and duo capacities. As an adult, Natali pursued the joy of singing, and has sung on studio recordings and in live performances as a Singer/Songwriter and musical collaborator; has completed a Bachelor's of Music from Berklee College of Music with a focus on Vocal Performance & Songwriting; and has worn multiple hats in music & theatre production. Natali believes that everyone who loves to sing should sing, and that vocal warm-ups and exercises are essential to vocal health and stamina. Natali enthusiastically performs regularly as a Lead and Back-Up Singer; is writing a self-care/self-esteem workbook for Singers; and, as a Teacher, Natali is thrilled to share singing techniques, and help connect people to the joy and progress of steady vocal practice. www.talifreed.com


Matt Heaton - Guitar

Matt Heaton PhotoMatt Heaton’s first taste of professional music was behind the organ console as a page-turner for his father, Charles Heaton, a noted organist and composer. After a couple of false starts on the piano, trumpet, and electric guitar, Matt decided to focus his energies on the acoustic guitar.

Although he studied classical guitar at Northwestern University—where he earned a Master of Music—and in Italy, played rock in Chicago, and played tango in Denver, he has found his musical home in Boston’s vibrant, Irish-music scene. In addition to his duo work with wife, Shannon, he is highly sought after as an accompanist, and he has performed with traditional luminaries Aoife Clancy, Robbie O’Connell, Emily Smith, and the Boys of the Lough. Matt also plays surf guitar in Matt Heaton & the Electric Heaters.


 Ben Krakauer - Banjo

Ben Krakauer is a 5-string banjo player and multi-instrumentalist with roots in bluegrass, old-time, jazz, and contemporary improvisation. He was a founding member of Old School Freight Train, has toured and recorded with mandolin maestro David Grisman, and has performed on over twenty professional recordings including productions by Acoustic Disc, CMH Records, and the Fiddle Masters DVD series. Ben recently completed a year as a Fulbright Scholar in West Bengal, India, and is currently completing his PhD in Ethnomusicology.




Bertrand Laurence - Intermediate/Advanced Guitar
Bertrand Laurence PhotoBertrand Laurence grew up in France listening to American acoustic guitar masters, and he came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music. With four CDs of his own music featuring his fresh, "here and now" style, Bertrand has performed on a number of international stages including Montreal Jazz Festival, CAAS in Nashville, Boston Folk and Blues Festival, and Mercure Jazz and Blues Festival in France.

Bertrand teaches performance and song improvisation and coaches voice for actors at the Carriage House Stage and School in Providence, Rhode Island. Bertrand also teaches the technical, physical, and creative sides of guitar playing and the freedom in expressive exploration.



jojo Lazar - Ukulele

jojo Lazar Photojojo Lazar has been causing a vaudeville ruckus for the past five years as The Burlesque Poetess. The daughter of a classical music conductor, raised on Suzuki violin with a detour into guitar in hippie high school-- jojo turned to uke as apocalyptic girl scout poet for Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken TOys. You can also catch her ukulele ladying in musical comedy duos: Tiny Instrument Revue and GIRLS SO LOUD, as well as fronting Those No-goodniks. A staple in the sticky cabarets and steampunk conventions of the eastern seaboard, jojo is a multimedia visual artist, published poet, and creative writing workshop leader with an MFA from Lesley University. When she's not drawing literary caricatures, taking commissions or being a one-woman vaudeville variety show she enjoys teaching others the mighty ukulele. Visit her keyring site: jojolazar.com



Eric McDonald - Americana Ensemble, Mandolin
Eric McDonald PhotoEric McDonald, a former Berklee College of Music student, plays mandolin and guitar for many touring bands and songwriters, including The Dave Rowe Trio, Matching Orange, and others. He has brought his music all over the United States and into Europe. In addition to teaching at Passim, you can find him instructing young musicians at New England fiddle camps during the summer.




Katie McNally - Celtic Ensemble

Katie McNally PhotoKatie McNally grew up steeped in the vibrant Scottish and Cape Breton music community in Boston and is the 2009 New England Scottish Fiddle Champion. She was a student of Hanneke Cassel and has performed at venues such as Club Passim, The Barns at Wolf Trap, Symphony Space, Brighton College in Brighton, England, and various folk venues throughout New England. Katie performs regularly with guitarist Eric McDonald, has been a member of the Boston-based fiddle supergroup Childsplay since 2009, and is currently on a national tour with world-renowned Galician bagpiper Carlos Núñez
Katie is a devoted teacher as well as a performer. In addition to her private students, she has taught at the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School, Boston Symphony Hall, the Tufts University Community Music Program, and has hosted her own fiddle camp in Leominster, MA for four years. Her debut album, Flourish, will be released in December 2012.


Jenna Moynihan - Fiddle

Jenna Moynihan PhotoJenna Moynihan is young, emerging fiddler on the acoustic music scene. Hailing from New York State, her roots in traditional Scottish fiddle, and her love of Appalachian Old-Time music create a distinct and unique style of playing. A student at Berklee College of Music, she has been the recipient of both the Fletcher Bright and the American Roots Music awards, given annually to an outstanding string player. Jenna has performed with the Folk Arts Quartet, Atlantic Seaways, The Jenna Moynihan Trio, and alongside the Boston Pops, and Darol Anger's Republic of Strings. She currently resides in Boston and is a an active player in the folk music scene. 


Austin Nevins - Guitar, Ensembles

Austin Nevins PhotoRaised in Northern California, Austin Nevins came east to attend and graduate from Berklee College of Music. Since getting his first guitar, he has learned to play a multitude of string-based instruments that include the acoustic, electric, and baritone bass as well as lap steel and some mandolin and banjo.  He plays and records with many songwriters, several of whom are part of the local community.  He is a member of Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band and has performed on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and with the Boston Pops. When not touring or recording with Josh, Austin enjoys producing albums. From his own small studio he has produced albums with Della Mae, Heartacre, Brian Webb, Amber Rubarth, and Jason Myles Goss, to name a few.


Annie Raines – Harmonica

Annie Raines PhotoAnnie Raines was born in 1969 near Boston, MA.  She picked up the blues harp at 17 and made her stage debut at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge. Enthralled by the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, she became a fixture at Boston area blues jams.  She started out playing the New England club circuit with local bands, and traveled to Chicago where she met and played with many of her musical idols including Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton. She paired up with country blues guitar master Paul Rishell in 1992, and together they have earned loyal fans around the globe. They have released seven albums together, including MOVING TO THE COUNTRY (2000), the W.C.Handy Award winner for “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year,” and have performed on diverse radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and PBS’s Arthur. They have performed and recorded with Susan Tedeschi, John Sebastian, Pinetop Perkins, and Rory Block.  Annie has been teaching harmonica for almost 25 years, and recently released her first instructional video, Blues Harmonica Blueprint (Truefire, 2012).
For more about Annie Raines, visit www.paulandannie.com.



Paul Rishell – Blues Guitar

Paul Rishell ThumbnailFor nearly 50 years, Paul Rishell has built up a stellar reputation as a torchbearer of the country blues tradition.  A master of the guitar styles of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Boy Fuller, Scrapper Blackwell and other innovators of early 20th century roots music, he is one of the few artists devoted to preserving their work as both a classical and a living form. Paul was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950. He began playing the drums at age 10, initially diving into rock ‘n’ roll until a friend played him a recording by the Delta bluesman Son House.  Rishell would meet and play with Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Howlin’ Wolf after moving to Cambridge in the early 1970s.  He paired up with harmonica ace Annie Raines in 1992, and together they have earned loyal fans around the globe. They have released seven albums together, including MOVING TO THE COUNTRY (2000), the W.C.Handy Award winner for “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year,” and have performed on diverse radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and PBS’s Arthur.  Paul recently released Talking Guitar (Mojo Rodeo, 2012), a solo CD of country blues songs featuring guest appearances by Annie Raines, and an instructional video, Dirt Road Blues (Truefire, 2008).  He has recently taught at Berklee College of Music as a Country Blues Visiting Artist.
For more about Paul, visit www.paulandannie.com.


Rosa Elena Rivera - Voice

Originally from Mexico City, Rosa Elena Rivera studied at the Escuela Nacional de Música UNAM. In 2000 she came to Boston Massachusetts to Study at New England Conservatory. She graduated in 2003 with two Masters Degrees: Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy. She has performed in many solo recitals, small and large ensembles and several productions with different theater companies. Some of her performance experience includes performances with her group "Scura Pasión", The Revels and In Good Company.  As a teacher she has worked in both private and public schools systems, conducted ensembles ranging from vocal ensembles, large children choirs, musical plays and recorder consort. Throughout all this years she has kept a voice studio.

Charlie Rose - Banjo, Ensembles
Charlie Rose PhotoOriginally from Kansas, Charlie Rose is now an active member of the local Boston music scene. He specializes in American music and plays a wide range of instruments, including banjo, double bass, guitar, pedal steel, and cello. Charlie is one of the most versatile musicians around. He often plays with many bands and songwriters across the country, including Zach Hickman’s Barnstar!, Sub Rosa, Rose Cousins, Crooked Jades, and more.


Mariel Vandersteel - Fiddle, Ensembles

Mariel Vandersteel PhotosMariel Vandersteel plays a new form of fiddle music that explores the melodic and harmonic structures and ideas that are stemmed from Norwegian hardanger fiddle music, American old-time and original fiddle music. Mariel has taught at Alasdair Fraser's Sierra Fiddle Camp, toured nationally and in the UK and Ireland, graduated with a degree in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music in 2009 and has shared the stage with the likes of Alasdair Fraser, Hanneke Cassel, Laura Cortese, Brittany Haas, Mike Marshall and Tony Trischka.



Brock Walsh - Songwriting

Brock Walsh has been writing songs and producing records for some of the world's most prestigious artists since graduating from Harvard College in 1975. Recent records of his songs, at least in geological terms, include recordings by Christina Aguilerra, Marc Anthony, Celine Dion, and Aretha Franklin. He returns to Cambridge, and to Passim, eager to reconnect with songwriters.




Stash Wyslouch - Guitar & Ensembles

Stash Wyslouch is an experienced performer and teacher. A recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music (2010), he’s played guitar for over half of his life and currently tours full time with The Deadly Gentlemen, an up and coming progressive Bluegrass band. Stash started the guitar to emulate his rock and heavy metal heroes growing up but soon grew a taste for the tones and textures of traditional American music. Stash’s unique guitar style links his electrified roots with the high octane sounds of bluegrass heard in the likes of The Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson and Bill Monroe.