My name is Gretchen Van Houten.
I play and teach several instruments and styles. I’m most well known
for playing fiddle and guitar. I also teach mandolin, bass, banjo
and some piano.
I competed for fifteen years and was NM
State Champion fiddler seven different years. I won the 1992
National Flatpicking Championships fiddle contest at Winfield,
Kansas. I won the Western Music Association fiddle contest at Tuscon.
I am a studio musician and occasionally play gigs with different
groups. I started playing harmonica and guitar when I was four,
teaching myself. I had nine years of classical piano training and
five years of classical violin all between the ages of eight and
seventeen. I started competing on the fiddle at age fourteen winning
my first NM State Championship at seventeen.
In those years I also taught myself
banjo, mandolin and bass. I learned my competition stuff by ear from
recordings of championship and world class fiddlers. There were no
“slow-down” devices then. I did it the hard way. I’m glad. It was
part of what taught me to be a true musician, not just a well
trained technician. I teach from my experience using tools that best
help people become who they are as musicians.
I teach improvisation. I know how and
it works. Leading students up to the beginnings of that skill I
teach several styles including Western Swing, Cajun, Texas style,
bluegrass, competition stuff, Irish, and am confident that I could
help with whatever styles a student has already been playing.
If you’re interested in learning from
me I am happy to discuss your situation and your needs and give you
my ideas of what I think would work best for your instruction and