Nicole Philbrick

Irish Fiddle and Owner of JA Clair School of Music

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.