If you've had me as a teacher, I'd love to hear from you. I'll put your testimonials here.
I began playing the flute at age 10, and studied classical music seriously into my teens. The local public school system in Cincinnati, Ohio didn’t have a string program, and I truly wish that it had! Years later when I came to Manhattan, I bought a used fiddle at a silent auction and although I had never played a stringed instrument before, I was determined to learn it. And I was in my late 50s. After taking classes at the Irish Arts Center, I began taking lessons with James Cleveland.
I truly appreciate his patience and approach to teaching Irish fiddle. In just over two years and a lot of practice, he’s helped me to come a very long way. There is still a bit more to go, but with James’ encouragement and steady hard work, I expect to do even better.
- Barbara R.
I have loved Irish fiddle music all my life and have attempted on my own to play for fifteen years. As traveling nurse, I found myself in New York city about 2012. Through the wonderful New York Irish Center in Long Island City, I discovered James Cleveland's fiddle teaching. James to me is the most generous, kind, unassuming Irish fiddle expert and teacher. He is able to get through to those who learn easily by ear, but also older people like me who learn visually from sheet music. He has an authentic Irish style, and he painstakingly notes the slurs and ornaments in a simple manner easily understood. His kindness enables even the most timid soul to play in public with others. James is a favorite with young pub session players as well as older folks who play at afternoon sessions at the Irish center. He is also a wonderful, warm singer who inspires others to join in the chorus. I highly recommend James to any aspiring Irish fiddle player. My husband is a semi-professional jazz fiddler who has noticed an improvement in my playing due to the influence of James.
- Patti Quinn
James is truly a wonderful teacher. I have been playing classical violin since I was about 10 (I’m currently 30), and have always wanted to get into playing in Irish music sessions. James was the perfect person to help me make the shift into Irish fiddling-- he teaches you how to use your ear, and offers great insights into the style and tradition behind session playing with genuine patience and kindness. I now regularly see him at sessions, and he is very encouraging and welcoming! Both myself and my aunt, who picked up a violin for the first time in her 50's, had terrific experiences with him. I highly recommend taking lessons with James to students at all ages and skill levels!
- Rogan M.
James' encyclopedic knowledge is an inspiration for both the novice and the experienced, and he is able to welcome his students into a deep affection for the culture, history and spirit that is essential for playing Irish music.
- Linda S.