Meet Nicole Philbrick

We are thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership between Music Works Iowa and JA Clair School of Music.

Beginning in the fall 2022, Music Works Iowa will partner with JA Clair School of Music to offer individual and group Irish fiddle lessons in Mount Vernon. Nicole Philbrick, owner of JA Clair School, already has a well-established studio with five group classes and nine private Irish fiddle students. The new partnership will allow Music Works Iowa to share studio space, provide administrative support to our favorite Irish Fiddle studio, and continue to be the hub for community music in Mount Vernon Iowa. Best of all, we have a new friend in Nikki — who shares our commitment of building community through music.

Also – the worst kept secret in all of Mount Vernon — We have found a lovely (and large!) classroom that will serve as home for all Music Works and JA Clair School of Music in-person group classes. The classroom will even feature its own mini-stage so students can practice their performance skills! Watch for more information as we transform this space.

With so many new things, we hold fast to what we know. Music Works Iowa is committed to building a community of musicians that grow, learn, and make music together. Join Marie, Lucy, and Julia as we welcome Nikki to our team!

Nicole Philbrick, JA Clair School of Music

About Nikki

Nikki started playing the violin over 25 years ago under the instruction of Janet Ault through her public school program in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. She quickly realized it would be a life-long pursuit (as much as any 8-year-old can realize such things) and took to playing as often as she could. In addition to continuing with her studies through the school orchestra program and the Preucil School of Music, Nikki attended numerous musical programs, including the Idaho Viola Camp (McCall, ID), the Red Cedar Chamber Music Summer Festival (Cedar Rapids, IA), Credo (Oberlin, OH), and numerous honor orchestras in her community. Nikki ultimately went on to obtain a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Iowa, studying with Dr. Katherine Wolfe.

After college, Nikki realized that what she really wanted to do was play fiddle in an Irish band. So, that she did! Nikki currently performs with Blame Not the Bard, an Irish band that tours the midwest, gracing the stages of numerous venues and festivals, including the Iowa Irish Fest. In March of 2022, Nikki made her television debut when Blame Not the Bard was featured on the program “Greetings from Iowa” on Iowa PBS.

While she loves touring with the band, she realized that she would like to share what she has learned with young musicians across eastern Iowa. To this end, she founded the JA Clair School of Music in March of 2020. Inspired by Janet Ault’s generosity toward her students, Nikki made a decision that there would always be a pay-what-you-can class option available at JA Clair, thus ensuring that all students have an opportunity to participate. Now entering its third year, JA Clair School of Music will join forces with Music Works Iowa to expand their shared vision of building a community of musicians.

When Nikki isn’t busy performing with the band, or serving as a performance consultant for Yume Dance Studio, she enjoys writing, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, and hanging out with her dogs, cat, and husband.

Watch Nikki in action with her band “Blame Not the Bard” from their March 2022 Iowa Public Television special

Interested in knowing more? Contact the office for more information and to be put on the registration email!

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