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School of Music Instructors

Our classes are taught by some of the

folk world’s Finest teachers!

After School Programs for children

Oona Grady & James Gascoyne 

Oona Grady & James Gascoyne have been teaching with the Caffe Lena School of Music since its inception, in March 2020.  Over the past year and a half they have offered small group instrumental classes in fiddle and tin whistle (Oona), and guitar, ukulele, banjo, and percussion (James).  In the summer of 2021, they co-facilitated the inaugural Troubadour in Training Camp with Lena’s School director Vivian Nesbitt, which was met with great enthusiasm.

Oona grew up in Ithaca, NY, nurtured by a family and community with deep music roots.  Aided by Suzuki violin and Irish fiddle lessons, she began performing with her family band as a teenager, and moved to Ireland at age eighteen to continue her music studies at college, graduating with a B.Mus.  In addition to teaching at Lena’s School, Oona maintains a private music studio focusing on Suzuki violin and Irish fiddle.Originally from Louisville, KY, James has been an active participant in the Saratoga arts community since graduating from Skidmore College.  He’s toured nationally with various groups performing on bass, guitar, drums, and vocals, all the while maintaining an active local performing schedule and teaching privately when time allows. Oona & James perform locally and regionally as Drank The Gold, a band specializing in traditional Irish and American fiddle music and folk songs, as well as original compositions and arrangements.

Matt Griffin 

Matthew teaches in our After School Folk Ensembles. He is a Saratoga Springs graduate who has studied at The Berklee School of Music, & played with the Saratoga Springs High School Jazz Band. After touring extensively with Let’s Be Leonard, he is a go-to bassist, percussionist and guitarist for Capital Region bands. You can catch him live with Blue Ranger or at Caffe Lena as Kitchen Manager. 

Chelsie Henderson

Chelsie Henderson is the founder and a music instructor at Rural Soul Music Studio, and a Wula Drum regional salesperson.  She has been teaching piano, voice and ukulele lessons for 20 years, and for the past 8 years has been sharing her love for West African drumming and movement with all ages and abilities.  Her first djembe instructor was local drummer and drum builder Wayne White.  She has had the honor of hosting and learning from Guinean master drummers M’Bemba Bangoura, Bolokada Conde and Sayon Camara among other greats, and strives to connect communities with, and pay homage, to the elders and culture-bearers.
Chelsie has taught in a multitude of education settings, from schools to libraries to senior citizen centers.

Online instructors featuring

Celia Woodsmith

Celia Woodsmith is a GRAMMY nominated vocalist, songwriter and performer for the bands Della Mae and Say Darling. Over the last 20 years she has put out 13 albums of original music, in a wide array of genres.

She has a penchant for writing songs that speak to current societal struggles, and loves artists like John Prine, Gillian Welch, Jason Isbell and Hazel Dickens.

Gretchen Peters

For over two decades, Gretchen Peters has been one of Nashville’s most beloved and respected artists. Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 by singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell, who called her “both a songwriter and a poet,” Peters has accumulated accolades as a songwriter for artists as diverse as Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brothers, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Bryan Adams and Faith Hill. Her song “Independence Day” won a CMA Song of the Year award in 1995. She has been nominated for 2 Grammys, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards.


Darryl Poulsen

Darryl Poulsen is a professional Canadian musician, drawn to music and began avidly playing guitar at the age of 10. He studied jazz at Humber College. Darryl found his true passion in bluegrass and has garnered a great deal of success with the international touring band, the Slocan Ramblers. Darryl has performed at music festivals across Canada, USA and the UK, from MerleFest, to RockyGrass, won an IBMA Momentum Award (Band of the Year), 2 Canadian Folk Music Award (Traditional album of the year, Ensemble of the year) and been nominated for multiple Juno Awards.

Allison DeGroot

Allison de Groot combines love for old-time music, technical skill and a creative approach to the banjo forming her own sound – unique and full of personality.  Her collaborations with Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, Bruce Molsky’s trio Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, The Goodbye Girls and Nic Gariess provide spaces to explore the role and depth of clawhammer banjo.


Bruce Molsky is one of the most revered “multi-hyphenated career” ambassadors for America’s old-time mountain music. For decades, he’s been a globetrotting performer and educator, a recording artist with an expansive discography including seven solo albums, well over a dozen collaborations and two Grammy-nominations. 

Frank Evans

Frank won the youth banjo contest at the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival when he was 13 and later placed second over all. He joined the bluegrass band, the Slocan Ramblers in 2010; he is one of the few banjoists who is equally adept at playing amazing clawhammer style, in addition to his virtuosic 3-finger playing. 

Eliza Gilkyson

Folksinger Eliza Gilkyson, a twice Grammy nominated singer/songwriter and Austin “Hall of Fame” inductee has a natural gift for teaching and sharing what she has learned over the course of her 50+
year career in music. She is the recipient of countless Folk Alliance and Chronicle
Awards over the years, including Best Songwriter, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Solo Performer. Her songs have been recorded by such notables as Tom Rush, Joan Baez, Bob Geldorf, Rosanne Cash and others, and have appeared on Prime Time Television, PBS specials and in films.

In person instructors featuring

Alan Epstein

Over the past 40 years, Alan has studied with some of the top mandolin players in the world and enjoys sharing his mandolin knowledge with students throughout the country. He has played in numerous bluegrass bands, was the founder of the modern day Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra (2002) and has been very active in making bluegrass jamming opportunities available in the Capital District. He is known throughout the area as a first-class bluegrass mandolin player and patient mandolin and bluegrass jam teacher.


A veteran touring performer of folk concert halls and coffeehouses from Boston to Seattle.  Cosy Sheridan first appeared on the national folk scene in 1992 when she won the songwriting contests at The Kerrville Folk Festival and The Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The Boston Globe dubbed her “one of the best new singer-songwriters in the United States.”  A voice student at The Berklee School of music and of legendary fingerstyle guitarists Eric Schoenberg and Guy Van Duser. Her recordings regularly chart in the Top 10 on folk radio. More about Cosy at CosySheridan.com 

Sloan wainwright

Sloan Wainwright is a singer and a songwriter of rare power and subtlety serving up doses of the real and the mysterious in a soaring, soulful contralto.

For the last 29 years, she has been sharing that process with students, spreading the gospel of personal expression and lyrical reinvention. Sloan’s open-hearted approach to singing, songwriting and letting loose has made her a treasured presence at a host of prestigious workshops, including The Swannanoa Gathering, Summersongs, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Winter Acoustic Weekend, Cape Cod Songwriters Retreat, Moab Folk Camp, and Frets and Refrains Guitar & Songwriting Camp. More about Sloan at sloanwainwright.com 


Dan Navarro

Dan Navarro’s journey began as a songwriter, often with the late Eric Lowen, for artists as diverse as Pat Benatar, The Bangles, Jackson Browne, Dave Edmunds, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, The Triplets, Dutch star Marco Borsato,  and Austin outlaw legend Rusty WeirIn the 1990s and 2000s, Dan and Eric recorded and toured as the acclaimed acoustic duo Lowen & Navarro until Eric’s retirement in 2009 (and passing in 2012). Dan has transitioned smoothly into a busy solo career.

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