Leslie Conaghan (fiddle)

Leslie Conaghan (fiddle)

Leslie elkus ranch

I grew up on Cape Cod and was lucky that my school offered the Little Fiddlers program to all kindergarten and first-grade students (how the teacher could stand the screeching, I'll never know). I continued violin through high school as part of a classical Suzuki-based group. I also played clarinet through college but, once I started teaching high school biology, my time was limited and I didn't touch either instrument for a long time.

One of the perks of marrying a guy from Ireland is that I've been fortunate to travel there many times. I experienced my first traditional Irish music session in a pub in 2005 and was inspired to rescue my dormant violin and join the local Coastside orchestra. It was way over my level, but I stuck with it because I was so happy to be playing again.

Seven years later, I went to Glencolmcille Fiddle Week in Donegal, Ireland, and learned my first Irish tunes by ear (a new skill for me). Since Fret & Fiddle was born, I've been back to fiddle week two more times and, along with Tim, joined the Peninsula Scottish Fiddlers.  I feel so fortunate to have learned tunes and skills from Donegal fiddlers Aidan O'Donnell, Tara Connaghan, Ronan Galvin and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Scottish fiddlers Rebecca Lomnicky and Colyn Fischer. The more I learn about Irish and Scottish music, the more I want to learn — and play.

Now that I'm lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom, I have time for lessons and learning new tunes. When I'm not playing with Fret & Fiddle or the Scottish Fiddlers, I love playing around town with other local musicians. One of my favorite things is the monthly concert we do at the Half Moon Bay Senior Center.

I'm grateful that my husband is a huge fan and loves that we host Fret & Fiddle rehearsals at our house. I'm also very lucky to have a mom who comes to gigs or watches my kids when they don't feel like hearing "Whiskey Before Breakfast" for the 1000th time. And of course I'm grateful for our loyal, fun Coastsider (and beyond) fans.