The Cat and The Fiddle offers private classes on a variety of stringed instruments. Each teacher handles his or her own schedules, so reach out to the teacher of your choice about setting up a class today!

Dakota Karper - Oldtime Fiddle

Dakota Karper was born and raised in rural West Virginia where she grew up surrounded by Appalachian Old-time music. From a young age she took to this music with great abandon. Absorbing as much as possible, she apprenticed under master fiddler Joe Herrmann, spent weeks at Augusta Heritage Center, participated in various music festivals in and around West Virginia and studied classical violin at the Shenandoah Arts Academy in Winchester, VA. After spending 7 years in Baltimore, MD, Dakota moved back to establish her home base in Capon Bridge, WV where she now teaches Appalachian fiddle and performs regularly in the surrounding region. Influenced heavily by a culture that values its roots and heritage, Dakota has created a voice of her own that combines clear haunting melodies, driving bow strokes, and settled rhythmic grooves. Dakota was a founding member of the 'Short Mountain String Band', and "Hay Fever" and has most recently been performing as 'Hemlock and Hickory'. In 2019 Dakota opened her own traditional roots music school called 'The Cat and The Fiddle'.

Contact: or call 443-860-2461
Cost: $35 per half hour class / $30 per class if buying 4 or more classes at a time.
Age Levels: Children and adults (Age 7 minimum)

Ben Townsend - Banjo, Fiddle, Ukulele, Guitar, Bass

Born and raised in Romney, West Virginia, multi instrumentalist, Ben Townsend has studied Appalachian traditional music extensively. With banjo mentors such as Riley Baugus and Ron Mullennex, and Fiddle mentors the likes of Dave Bing, Joe Herrmann and Earl White, Townsend has studied a variety of old-time traditions ranging from the archaic, haunting fiddle of his home to the Round Peak music of North Carolina and Virginia to the Bluegrass of East Kentucky and Ohio.

As a member of The Fox Hunt, Old Sledge, The Iron Leg Boys, The Hackensaw Boys, The Hillbilly Gypsies and now as a solo artist, Ben Townsend has traveled across the country and around the world spreading his unique take on West Virginia regional old-time music. He has shared the stage with acts varying from Ralph Stanley to the Henry Girls of County Donegal, Ireland to the Taiko drummers of Yamagata Prefecture, Japan and the rowdy Aussies at the Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention in Victoria, Australia

He is also a devoted teacher of the music of his region and works both privately and as a featured teacher at music festivals and camps. He has been involved in the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, West Virginia as a staff musician and teacher and has also worked as an instructor at The Allegheny Echoes Festival in Marlinton, West Virginia, Common Ground on the Hill at McDaniel College in Maryland and The Upper Potomac Fiddle Festival in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia just to name a few.

Townsend’s most recent project, 2 Guys Named Ben is a video series based on footage collected by Townsend and long time friend Ben Guzman on a cycle tour from Romney, West Virginia to Los Angeles, California, The series features interviews with traditional musicians and folk artists throughout Appalachia, across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and is complimented by a Grammy nominated Album, Deep End Sessions, Vol 3: Ben Townsend and Friends.

Cost: $35 per half hour class
Age Levels: Children and adults (Age
5 minimum)

Johanna Murray - Piano

Johanna Murray grew up in Omaha, NE and received her BA in studio art from Grinnell College (2012). She has been playing piano and singing since she was 8 years old, studying under instructor, Phyllis Dunne, for 10 years. She has continued practicing music and performing throughout her adult life, and recently studied piano under Hampshire County native and local pianist Jim Townsend. Johanna sang in the Nebraska Children’s Chorus for 8 years under the tutelage of world renowned conductors, including Dr. Z Randall Stroope. Music has always played an important role in Johanna’s life and she currently plays as a duo with her husband, Mike Everson.

Johanna is also an experienced educator with two years of teaching experience in both Hampshire and Morgan County Schools. Additionally, she organized and facilitated educational arts/music programs through The River House as the Executive Director from 2017-2021. Johanna is a great fit for beginner students looking to learn the basics of not only playing the piano but also understanding foundational music theory.

She assists her students in following their musical passions through studies of classical, traditional, and popular tunes.


Cost: Unlisted

Age level: Children and adults

Mike Everson - Guitar, Bass

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Mike Everson started playing guitar 15 years ago in his hometown of Omaha, NE. Initially self-taught, he played blues and rock music as a hobby in high school. In 2008, he was accepted into the University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Music, where he began playing jazz-guitar as a student of guitarist Jeff Scheffler. During his college years he was routinely playing in bar-band gigs, and began teaching guitar at the School of Rock-Omaha. He also collaborated with a few friends in a band called “The Penrose Stairs”, releasing the album Apophenia (2013). Upon graduation in 2012, Mike continued to teach and became Music Director of SOR-Omaha until his departure in 2014.

After one year of traveling and working as a farmhand, Mike moved to Hampshire County, WV with (his now wife) Johanna Murray. Together they released the album Mother Tree (2017), which featured original songs inspired by their travels. Currently residing in Capon Bridge, WV, Mike continues to perform as a solo artist, in a duo with his wife called “Mike&Jo”, and as a guitarist and vocalist for local rock-band “The Bad McCrees”.

Mike teaches and explores the acoustic roots and evolution of blues, rock, and jazz music with his students. He understands the initial struggles of beginners, and appreciates the company of intermediate or veteran players who want to learn some new tricks.


Cost: $25 per half hour

Age level accepted: Children and adults (8+ yrs / 3rd grade min)