Old-time musician Emily Schaad plays strong and rhythmic fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and solid back-up guitar, and she has spent a significant amount of time with musicians from western North Carolina in Surry, Watauga, and Buncombe counties in particular.
Emily came to the music of the southern Appalachians as a classical violist and public school string teacher. She studied viola performance at Curtis Institute and Juilliard, and has taught elementary, middle, and high school orchestra in her native New York State. Emily was director and founder of Stringendo, Inc., an award-winning community orchestra school in Poughkeepsie, NY.
While Emily continued to pursue classical experiences and aspirations, the archaic and driving sound of the fiddle and banjo found her. She started playing more fiddle music, attending festivals and conventions, and growing her passion for old-time styles. Emily relocated from the Hudson Valley of New York State to western North Carolina to study Appalachian culture and music at Appalachian State University. She made efforts to spend time visiting and playing with old-time music greats as Clyde Davenport, Benton Flippen, Joe Thompson, Chester McMillian, Mac Snow, Ray Alden, Kevin Fore, and Cecil Gurganus. From these seasoned musicians came a varied repertoire, a feel for Round Peak rhythm, and cherished stories and memories. During her time in Boone, she taught for the local Junior Appalachian Musicians program, and she developed close ties to the regional old-time music community.
Emily is sought after as an instructor for old-time music camps and workshops, blending a grounding in Appalachian tradition with instrumental pedagogy. She has performed and taught at such festivals as The Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Heritage Center, Ashokan Fiddle and Dance, Falling Waters Music Camp, Pickathon, and Bluff Country Gathering. She is currently artistic director and conductor of Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestras and Greenville County Youth Orchestras, and is active professionally as a symphony musician. She performs with various old-time groups, including the Blue Ridge Broadcasters with Joseph Dicosimo, Doug Sharkey, and Joe DeJarnette; and Old-Buck with Riley Baugus, Debra Clifford, and Sabra Guzman.