Who Can Play the Fiddle to Sold Out Crowds, Win Grammy Awards, and Teach Her Five Kids to Reel Right Along with Her?

I recently went with my dear mother  to see the most amazing performance of the grammy winning, Natalie MacMaster at the Utah Symphony.  She came out on the stage as tiny as be except that she was six months pregnant!

She plays her fiddle as can be seen here.  You must watch this!  Her kids play and dance with her too!  My kids were absolutely spellbound watching it.

 Dublin Festival

“Want to know the difference between a violin and fiddle?”  Natalie asked us.

Someone from her audience yelled, “One is carried in a case, and the other is carried in a gunny sack!”

Natalie asked, “What’s a gunny sack?”  To prove there was no difference, she made the concert master trade instruments with her and play a duet with her that they had never practiced before.

Nat was a hoot, high-energy girl, cracking jokes every time she took a break from playing her Cape Breton, fast-paced music.  You got a feeling that everything she was said was unrehearsed and some of her numbers with the concert master were unrehearsed.  But their anniversary waltz just melted my heart. By the way, know where Cape Breton is?  It’s in Canada, east of Prince Edward Island.  As a girl, I always dreamed of living on Prince Edward Island, since Anne of Green Gables lived there, never mind that she was a fictional character.  Now I’m thinking about taking up residence in little town of Troy, population under 500, and I’m moving right next door to Natalie.  Yep.  We’re on a first name basis now.  I feel like we’re best friends all ready.  I’m sure she saw me in the audience standing up after nearly everyone on her jigs.

But what was so cool, so AMAZING about this girl is that she has FIVE kids, the oldest only eight.  And she’s expecting another one in a few months!  She only does about ten weekend tours a year, and the rest of the time she’s with her kids teaching them how to play their fiddles and jig.

We had two amazing surprises for the performance.  The first was that she brought her eight year old daughter out to fiddle with her and the little girl was AMAZING.  They played together and then at the end of their number, the little girl started dancing her little Cape Breton dance.  The second surprise was that after being on her feet for two hours, Natalie danced for us too.  My mom said, “That can’t be too good for her baby.”

“I’m sure the baby’s asleep,”  I said.

Dinner 193

My mother and I at the Natalie MacMaster concert

What I found so inspiring about all of this is that Natalie was able to so richly weave her talents and energies into the lives of her children.  Her gift was not a detraction from her work as a mother, but only enriched her children.   A few days after hearing her, we took the children to a lyrical opera performance at the library for Family Home Evening.   We listened to Dr. Issac Hurtado’s students sing such gorgeous music and then picked out a few library books.  I chose Alice in Wonderland and started reading it to Ricky and Deborah that night.  Why couldn’t I bring the things I love to my children more abundantly?  By the way, they loved it.



  1. Ok, now I feel inadequate. I guess I can be a little more vigilant/dedicated to teaching Em piano. This mom is amazing. Does she homeschool?

  2. The thing that is so amazing is that she didn’t make you feel inadequate at all—you just felt inspired, like motherhood could be so much fun. She was so hilarious up there and her personality seemed so laid back. She probably makes practicing fun

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