Kate’s Klasses, Winter 2024

single post

AlgomaTrad and the Kate Murphy Bursary Fund Committee, made up of family and friends of Kate Murphy including Emilie Pickell, Martin Pickell, Anne Lederman, Ian Bell, Laurie Cumming, and John Glover, initiated an online program of classes in Kate’s name in January 2023. The program was very successful, with 25 registrants signing up for piano, stepdancing, and clawhammer banjo.

We proudly present our second series of Kate’s Klasses, which will be hosted by AlgomaTrad on Zoom every Thursday from 7pm-8:30pm, for five weeks from February 01 to February 29, 2024. Classes will be one hour long with a 15-minute introduction/gathering/sharing time before and after the class.

This year the committee has added fiddle and tin whistle to the classes and there will be a focus on Brian Pickell tunes. (Brian and Kate were partners for many years and raised 2 lovely children together). Jon Glover will also be sharing several of Kate’s songs during the community time as part of each week’s session. Chords and lyrics will be shared with participants so they can learn the song if they so wish.


Six classes occurring concurrently through breakout rooms are:

  • Laurie Cumming

    Mulligan Waltz Stepdance – Beginner to Novice Level – Instructor Laurie Cumming
    Kate Murphy enthusiastically shared her love of step dance with many people over the years. As my mentor, Kate taught me a few of the routines danced by her performing group, The Mulligan Dancers, and in this workshop we’ll learn the Mulligan Waltz. This unflashy but oh-so-satisfying step dance can be enjoyed by all, with or without stepping experience. Hard-soled shoes are traditional, however no special footwear is required.

  • Clawhammer Banjo – Novice to Intermediate – Martha Cooper
    In this clawhammer banjo class we will work on learning and finessing a few essential banjo techniques, and dig into some Brian Pickell banjo tunes. Registrants should already know the basic claw hammer strum.
  • Julie Schryer

    Piano Accompaniment – Intermediate Level – Instructor Julie Schryer
    This piano class, in the spirit of Kate Murphy, is for piano players who would like to get a nice dance groove going as an accompanist for fiddle tunes. We’ll work at accompanying several Brian Pickell tunes in a variety of different time signatures. So if you have a basic skill set of scales and chords and would like to have fun playing by ear and becoming more comfortable in an accompanist role please join us for some fun.

  • Fiddle – Advanced Beginner/Novice – Instructor James Stephens
  • Fiddle – Intermediate – Instructor Shane Cook
We are offering two levels of fiddle, choosing appropriate Brian Pickell tunes for each level. Registrants should sign up for the level that they believe works for them. The classes may be occasionally combined.
  • Tin Whistle – Novice/Intermediate – Instructor Pat O’Gorman
    In this class we’ll learn a few simple Brian Pickell tunes that work particularly well on tin whistle or Irish flute. Once we’ve learned the tunes, we’ll look at some different ways to ornament them! Flutes welcome!


Registration Fees – to ensure accessibility for all income levels, we are offering a sliding scale as well as a fully-subsidized tuition opportunity. Donations to the Kate Murphy Fund can also be added to your fee – we thank you for your support.

  • Full Registration Fee ($100)
  • Partially subsidized (pay what you can in ten dollar increments on a scale between $50-$100)
  • Fully subsidized (no payment required)

Registrations now open for Kate’s Klasses Winter 2024 program. REGISTER NOW!

If you have registered and would like to pay for your classes, Pay Now!

If you have questions about this program, please contact Laurie at

If you have questions about registration or fee payment, please email AlgomaTrad at or call 705 782 4311.


Kate Murphy was a musician, step-dancer, singer and, in later years, a songwriter. She introduced many people to multiple forms of traditional music and dance on clawhammer banjo, hammered dulcimer, as the piano “time-meister” of many contra and square dance bands, as part of ensembles like Muddy York, the Dawnbreakers, Murphy’s Law and as one of the members of The Mulligan Dancers. She also became a true friend and supporter to an older generation of musicians in Canada, fiddlers like Tommy McQueston and Carl Grexton, warming their later years. She truly embodies what AlgomaTrad is all about.

Kate passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2021. Many friends and family members came together to create a bursary fund in her honour to encourage people to learn the traditions she loved so well. The bursary will be supported by fundraising events, and will go towards supporting workshops throughout the year, possibly individual lessons, instrument rentals, subsidies for people to go to Algoma trad, whatever seems in keeping with her indomitable spirit.