Laurel directed string orchestras in the public school system in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area for over 25 years in addition to teaching privately. Her violin and viola studies began at age 11, and by high school, she was actively playing four instruments. She went on for professional viola study with John Tartaglia, Associate Principal Violist of the Minnesota Orchestra, and Phillip Lowry, Principal Violist of the Tulsa Philharmonic. She apprenticed with the Symphony School of America as a violist to learn standard orchestral repertoire and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn stringed instrument repair.
Her father was a songwriter and performed on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville during the Golden Years of country music. Her mother was a great supporter of the arts. Both parents were teachers. This upbringing heavily influenced her love of American fiddle music; in particular, bluegrass, western swing and Texas style contest fiddling. She learned improvisation and began to compete, winning multiple times at the Arizona State Championship Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest in the adult and twin fiddling divisions. She was a student at Camp Bluegrass, an immersion camp in west Texas, with legends Dale Morris, Sr. and Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor. This love of dance music led her to become director of the Zuni Elementary School Coyote Fiddlers, an award winning student ensemble that performed for many years at Rawhide, Pioneer Living History Museum and the Scottsdale Jaycees’ Parada del Sol Rodeo Parade.
Laurel is a composer and published author, dedicating an orchestral piece called “The Fiddle Show” to the Coyote Fiddlers, and a music editor for the “American Fiddle Method” by Brian Wicklund and published by Mel Bay.
Her style of teaching is nurturing and supportive. She teaches efficient and stress-free classical left and right hand technique as a basis for any style of music a student wishes to pursue. Her teaching is based on daily scales, fingering patterns, bowing skills, standard etudes, position work, vibrato, solo repertoire, and a good dose of humor.