Ida Mae Specker grew up in a musical household listening to her father practice his fiddle daily. She was given a tiny fiddle as a toddler and taught how to hold it properly. Lessons were sporadic throughout her grade school years. She was never pressured to practice, but music was always in the air. When she did start to play in earnest, it was as a teenager in the context of a family band, performing along with her older sister and dad by ear. As to learning the tunes, she discovered she already knew many of them. This same natural, unselfconscious immersion model has defined Ida Mae's teaching style as an independent music educator since 2009.
Ida Mae's children’s folk music workshops offer a fun, age-appropriate space for kids to build life-long confidence in their natural music making abilities.
From running an after-school program, giving private and group fiddle lessons, facilitating workshops at schools, libraries, street fairs, town halls and music festivals, to teaching folk-singing classes for children, Ida Mae is always working to increase the accessibility and visibility of music wherever life takes her. Ida Mae has collaborated with visual art and history teachers in public schools to create cross- disciplinary programs exploring American culture through the lens of folk music. Her original curriculum combines live demonstrations and hands on instruction with audio samples, historical images and video footage. In 2023, Ida Mae was added to the Vermont Art Council's prestigious Teaching Artist Roster.
In 2018, Ida Mae launched the Chester Music Center. As director, Ida Mae gave lessons, hosted a monthly old-time jam and set up workshops, empowering community members of all ages and ability levels to connect to their musical roots. She closed the Chester Music Center at the end of 2018 and relocated to East Dorset, VT. From 2021-2022, in partnership with Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT, Ida Mae and her sister Lila ran The Specker School of Music, where they hosted monthly folk music circles for children 0-4 and their caregivers, taught a weekly string band for kids, and offered private lessons.
Ida Mae's clear, engaging fiddle lessons emphasize ear-training and everything you need to know to learn this unique American art form. Chord progressions, rhythmic structure and the history and theory of old-time music enhance your experience. Please contact Ida Mae to book an in-person workshop or to sign up for lessons.
In recent years, Ida Mae has begun a collaboration with ArtsBus VT, a non-profit mobile arts organization in a refurbished school bus based in Randolph, VT. Together with Lila Specker, she wrote an original kids song that she taught to students in summer programs in public schools across Vermont, then recorded in a recording studio set up in the back of the bus!