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Vermont continues to be home for a wide range of traditional music and dance, a tapestry of people from other places, many who brought their traditions with them. Some arrived hundreds of years ago, mostly from Europe, and others more recently, from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.   The state has consistently inspired singers, instrumentalists and dancers, and is deservedly identified for the creativity and contributions of its artists. We also have a wealth of talented children, youth and young adults, and a variety of accessible, high quality enrichment options related to sports, theater, visual arts, and classical and jazz music. However, Young Tradition Vermont is the only organization with its primary focus on young people, traditional music and dance, and a commitment to ensure what is offered is available at low or no cost.

Our programs are deliberately designed as a continuum. Exposure and inspiration leads to the commitment and discipline needed for learning. Opportunities to learn at a high level lead to being a performer. Performing inspires others at the beginning of the cycle, and being able to perform gets you to a place where you have the chance to serve, to use what you know to bring enjoyment and resources to others.

We operate over 2 dozen programs that impact young people and their families from infancy through early adulthood.  Activities are designed to address at least one and ideally several of the following parts of our mission:

  • inspire young people with traditional music and dance
  • ensure opportunities for young people to learn about traditional music and dance
  • ensure that young people have performing opportunities using traditional music and dance
  • ensure that young people have opportunities to use what has inspired them, what they have learned and their performing experience to serve others, including families with children in life-altering situations.

YTV Misson and Purpose

We have worked hard and had success in making mission components part of everything we do. A percentage of revenue from public events goes to the Tom Sustic Fund, which supports families with children with life-altering conditions.  Service opportunities have included programs at the Vermont Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Memorial Service at Ira Allen Chapel at UVM.

In 2001 Tom Sustic died, at age 16, after a two-year battle (‘massacre’) with leukemia. Over the course of his family’s life, including his father Mark Sustic’s involvement as a musician, teacher and event producer, there were many connections with a wide variety of performers. In 2002 several musicians offered to do a performance as part of a series of concerts in Burlington designed to create and sustain a fund established in Tom’s memory. The Tom Sustic Fund was established from those contributions, and has continued with its support families who have children at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Vermont, the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire and occasionally at other hospitals throughout North America when families from the region travel for specialized care.

We believe that inspiration leads to the commitment and discipline needed for learning. Opportunities to learn lead to being able to perform. Performing inspires others at the beginning of the cycle, and being a performer gets you to a place where you have the chance to use what you can do to bring enjoyment to and resources to others who need support.

It is an organization that strives to link initial interest, exposure and engagement with later leadership and mastery.  An example….. A child gets introduced with the instrument petting zoo or at a performance. They identify an instrument they’re interested in and borrow one from the loan program. They get referred to a private teacher with some free lessons. They attend Trad Camp. They participate in Fiddleheads monthly sessions or a school-based fiddle tunes club. They perform at low-key family friendly situations with other young musicians. They then perform on their own or form a performing group with friends. They join the Touring Group as an apprentice or associate member. They return another year and become an anchor member. They start teaching private lessons, are hired as faculty at Trad Camp, record a CD, and use music and dance with Young Tradition Vermont as a component of college application, acceptance, and area of study. They return for the annual Young Tradition Weekend and reunion concerts. They become members of the Board of Directors. They start or lead another organization and collaborate with YTV as a presenter. They have their own children and bring them to the instrument petting zoo and performances……

There are some things we have come to believe based on our experience…..

  • Children, youth and young adults are not one-dimensional when it comes to music and dance…..  someone who attends the monthly Fiddleheads session is a youth orchestra member who plays in the jazz band at school and  learns the latest pop song from YouTube…… when exposed to traditional music and dance as an option, some (not all) will choose to learn and play at concerts, festivals and dances with equal enthusiasm and interest
  • Creating the stars of tomorrow isn’t the point…..  the point is participation…..  performing serves to increase participation and interest, not to create performers
  • unless you’re Abenaki (Native American), the only major difference between New Americans today and those of 200 years ago is time of arrival….. Tibetans, Nepalese, Burmese, Somalians, Burundians, Iraqis and others have arrived in Vermont recently…..  Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Italians and others arrived many more years ago

Lots of organizations offer youth-oriented programs….. what makes Young Tradition Vermont different?

  • infancy to young adulthood continuum….and beyond (participants who age-out as YTV consumers become leaders e.g. board members, teachers, contractors, founders and directors of collaborating organizations)
  • no staff other than a part time Executive Director
  • very little in fixed assets…. no office, no facilities, no capital campaigns….. all we really own is a large collection of loaner and petting zoo instruments…. that collection is stored is with a collaborating organization
  • priority on FREE or as-low-as possible access to instruments, instruction and events (performances, festivals, showcases, etc.)
  • emphasis on collaboration vs. doing things on our own…..  in fact, the surest way for us to not initiate a project is when we can’t find at least one collaborator…..  we feel we can best serve our collaborators by being nimble enough to stand in front when we need to take the lead, to stand beside them when we can contribute and take risks equally, or to stand behind them (or stay out of their way!) while they take the lead

YTV Activities

United under the umbrella of a non-profit organization with 501c3 IRS classification since 2009, a range of activities form the fabric of YTV, serving as a gateway to and navigation within the world of traditional music and dance:

Baird 5 music sessions (monthly performances on Baird 5 Pediatrics at the Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington for patients and their families)

Classes (after school, evening, weekend and summer classes in collaboration with other organizations such as the Integrated Arts Academy, Edmunds Elementary School, Burlington City Arts and Vermont Violins)

Curriculum Development

  • ‘New Neighbors’ in collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center as an approach for teachers that features music and dance from the home countries of children from New American families living in Vermont
  • ‘One Sings’ in collaboration with the Integrated Arts Academy to use traditional music in kindergarten through grade 2 to ensure that children’s musicality at grade 3 prepares them for success in a strings program

Fiddleheads (monthly, year round rehearsals, workshops, and performances for beginning through advanced musicians who learn fiddle tune and related repertoire as an ensemble and perform at public events, weddings, conferences, and celebrations)

  • Fiddle Tunes Clubs (residency and after school meetings of 6 to 8 weeks for young musicians learning fiddle tunes designed for dances and performances, coordinated with Fiddleheads repertoire)

Instrument Loan Program (loans of acoustic instruments linked to the Instrument Petting Zoo….. when loaner instruments on not being used, they are part of the instrument petting zoo)

Instrument Petting Zoo (installations at festivals, fairs, schools and other public events featuring several hundred instruments that have been donated or purchased for the purpose of ensuring that young folks have the chance see, hear and freely interact with acoustic instruments while supported by knowledgeable and welcoming ‘zoo keepers’)

Music for Sprouts (support of and collaboration with Chris Dorman and Bread & Butter Farm featuring music classes for families with infants and toddlers)

Performances and presentations (variety of concerts, dances and other events, almost all as collaborative presentations with other presenters such as Bread & Butter Farm, Shelburne Farms, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Higher Ground, Queen City Contras, City of Burlington, University of Vermont, UVM Lane Series, Chandler Center, Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, Tree Wild, Shelburne Vineyard, Vermont Folklife Center and many more.…… ocassionally streamed on line through Concert Window and/or recorded for later broadcast on cable access television and/or YouTube, some recorded and distributed on CD and/or DVD)

  • Events for Tom Concerts (performances featuring young and mature artists with a focus on inspiring young people with traditional music and dance, and raising funds and awareness for families with children in life-altering situations via the Tom Sustic Fund)
  • Farewell Reunion Concert (concert in late May, featuring musicians who support the organization and its efforts to support families with children being treated for life-altering conditions, held at the Grace Church in Sheldon, all proceeds donated to the Tom Sustic Fund, the largest single fund raising event for the Fund)
  • Young Tradition Reunion Concerts (performances featuring a wide variety of performers with linkages to Young Tradition Vermont programs past or present)
  • Young Tradition Showcase Concert (performances featuring student-teacher, parent-child and mentor-mentee combinations in early May)
  • Young Tradition Showcases (performances done in collaboration with other presenters featuring young performers, including those who have won and/or been finalists at the annual contest, in a variety of locations including the New England Exposition in MA, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Vermont, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne Museum, the New World Festival in Randolph, the Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans, Church Street Marketplace, Ethan Allen Homestead, the Vermont History Expo in Tunbridge, Higher Ground in South Burlington, and many others.
  • Young Tradition Vermont Concerts (performances featuring young artists with a focus on inspiring young people with traditional music and dance in a variety of locations, and creating performing opportunities for young musicians and dancers)

Public School Partnerships (school year projects with multiple components including residencies, assemblies, after school classes , curriculum development and teacher training and support at the Integrated Arts Academy, Edmunds Elementary School, Edmunds Middle School, the Sustainability Academy, J.J. Flynn Elementary School and one time projects with Camel’s Hump Middle School, Underhill Central School and others)

Scholarships (reduced or free tuition for the annual summer Tred Camp in late July and other Young Tradition Vermont and collaborating partner presentations)

Tom Sustic Fund (grants from a portion of revenue generated at Young Tradition Vermont events, administered by the Vermont Family Network in collaboration with MSWs at the UVM Medical Center and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, to families with children with life-altering/life-threatening conditions….. supports a variety of purposes including transportation, housing, equipment and supplies)

Trad Camp (late July week of instrumental, vocal and dance classes and workshops, daily, evening and weekend public performances, introductory and master classes)

Workshops (workshops scheduled on an as-available basis featuring master artists who are visiting the area as performers for Young Tradition Vermont, the UVM Lane Series, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, the Discover Jazz Festival, Higher Ground and others)

Young Tradition Touring Group (an ensemble of higher level, auditioned players, singers and dancers that perform at public events in Vermont and do tours during April spring break outside Vermont e.g. England/Scotland in 2014, Ireland in 2016 and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 2017)

  • Linkages with similar organizations and young people with similar interests, including touring groups visiting Vermont (hosting and presenting events featuring groups from other parts of North America and the World e.g. Northumberland Ranters from Northeastern England, Strawberry Hill Fiddlers from the Hudson River Valley in New York, African Children’s Choir from Kenya in Africa, Jeunes Musiciens du Monde from Quebec, the Saline Fiddlers from Southeastern Michigan, Village Harmony, the Franklin County (Maine) Fiddlers, and Project Harmony International based in Central Vermont)

Young Tradition Weekend (second Friday and the following Saturday in May)

  • Young Folks Doing Old Stuff Conference (Friday professional development for educators using or interested in using traditional music and/or dance in their teaching in collaboration with the Quebec Government Office in Boston, the Vermont Folklife Center and others)
  • Public School Assembly (Friday afternoon performance at the Integrated Arts Academy)
  • Contra Dance (Friday evening featuring young dance leaders and musicians)
  • Contest (Saturday late morning and afternoon audited competition for singers, players and dancers)
  • Baird 5 Pediatrics (Saturday mid-day performance for patients and families at the UVM Medical Center)
  • Awards Reception (Saturday early evening presentation of contest awards)
  • Showcase Concert (Saturday early evening performance featuring teachers and their students, parents and their children, mentors and their mentees)

Board of Directors

Nancy Bove

Nancy retired in 2014 as Events Coordinator for Burlington Parks and Recreation where she collaborated with Young Tradition Vermont on many projects.  She was the producer of Kids Day, Burlington Winter Festival and the Pomerleau Holiday Party along with managing and acting as liaison with event producers who use the Waterfront Park Festival site. Nancy is past President of New England Festivals and Events Association, a six-state regional chapter of the International Festivals and Events Association, a professional association for the special events industry promoting networking through training, publications, and trade shows.  She has been a speaker at the national IFEA Convention and co-authored a workbook titled ‘Kids Events’.  An avid traveler, she has visited China, Bhutan, Bangkok, Canada, Europe and South America in addition to many places in the United States.

Bill Drislane: President

Bill is a fiddler, singer, guitarist, choral composer, writer and attorney.  He lives in Jericho, Vermont in a musical house with his wife Liz Thompson (founder and director of Anima, Aurora and Social Band) and son Will Drislane (co-composer of ‘Mommy Was in the Shade’).  He has been a long-time member and band leader of the Zillionaires dance band.  His performances and collaborations throughout Vermont and upstate New York have included work with the Mars Rovers, Toss the Feathers, The Neighborhood Project, Social Band and Old Songs Festival.  He actively promotes and performs in many genres of music in acoustic settings.  His professional work includes wills, trusts and estates; small business and tax planning; and advice to non-profits and arts organizations.  He was board member and chair of HomeShare Vermont (program for disabled and elderly Vermonters), and has been a board member and President of Camp For Me (day camp for adopted children.)


Joe Cleary

Since 1996, Joe has put his heart into the art of lutherie. As owner of Campanella Stringed Instruments, he works on developing the skills and knowledge essential to making high performance musical tools.  His violins, mandolins and other instruments are renowned for their exacting quality and pleasure to play and listen to. His ultimate goal is to inspire musicians to new heights through sound and playability. His mandolins are based on the geometry of Cremonese violins and the Stradivari materials in Cremona, Italy. A violin or mandolin may last hundreds of years, so he builds for the music of the past, present and especially of the future. He studied at William & Mary and lives in Burlington with wife Tree and children Juniper and Jasper.

‘I draw inspiration from the classical Italian violin making tradition, my training, and personal exploration and study of modern lutherie. I build instruments which are powerfully voiced, yet transparent to the will and skill of the player.’

Nowa Crosby, Vice President nowa-crosby

Nowa is an acomplished violinist and mandolinist. Born in North Carolina, he now lives in Shelburne with his wife Maria Delia, and plays original and jazz and Latin music and works as a luthier at his shop, Randolin Instruments on College Street in Burlington.  From early 1980s to 2011 he has maintained and ran a repair business in Burlington with his friends and colleagues at Burlington Guitar and Amp.  His own luthierie shop has grown to a full music store and repair center.  Nowa also taught music ensemble at the Renaissance School in Shelburne.  Nowa is also an ordained priest in the Zen Buddhist Tradition. He studied Zen under his teacher Sunyana Graef Sensei and has been a practicing Buddhist for over 20 years.  ‘Nowa’ means, ‘energetic harmony and/or the capacity for peace.’ He travels with his teacher and Sangha to Canada and Costa Rica, as well as the USA, and been on several pilgrimages to Japan and China.

‘Many fellow musicians had expressed their displeasure with the many shapes and uncomfortable playability of the new electric violins. Being a violinist/fiddler, I had many of the same reservations as my compadres. Being a luthier, I had a dream to create something new. Thus followed many years of experimentation and refinement of my ideas.

Danielle Devlin

Danielle is passionate about all forms of traditional dance and music, especially Celtic rooted forms. She dances competitively in Scottish Highland, and is an active participant in step dancing and social dance in Canada. In 2015, she built The Ceilidh Barn at her home in Sheldon, Vermont, where she hosts house concerts and workshops, and sets up a personal studio space. A trained pastry chef, she owns and operates a small commercial bakery, BakeAria (named for her love of baking and classical singing). Danielle also works as a Booking Associate with FLi Artists, an agency focused in world and folk music. She is currently back in school working towards a degree in Arts Management.

Bill Ellis

Bill is Associate Professor of American music at Saint Michael’s College. Born in Lynchburg, VA., he is the son of banjo composer Tony Ellis and the godson of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe. An acoustic blues musician and writer by profession, Ellis holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Memphis and a Master of Music degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. He also spent nine years as the pop music critic for the Memphis daily paper, the Commercial Appeal.  Among his recordings are Conqueroo, picked by Acoustic Guitar magazine as one of 2003’s best albums, and the Jim Dickinson-produced God’s Tattoos, winner of Best International Blues Recording by a Solo Artist at the 2007 Bluestar Awards in Australia. In 2004, a House of Blues Radio Hour special on “New Voices of the Blues” spotlighted Bill, and he has toured extensively including gigs with his father at the Kennedy Center, U.S. State Department tours of Cuba and Belarus, and the New Yorker Festival with actor Steve Martin. In addition, he co-produced the 2005 Handy-nominated album, Big Joe Jumps Again!, by late Cincinnati barrelhouse piano master Big Joe Duskin.  Among Bill’s writing honors are a 2002 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for print media and a 2004 first place Arts & Entertainment win in the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards, the oldest and best-known feature writing accolade for American newspapers. An avid world traveler, Bill lived through much of the 1990s in Japan. He is a member of the Memphis chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and a voting member of the Grammys.

aden-hajiAden Haji

Aden graduated from Burlington High School in 2014, attended Castleton University and is now a Junior at UVM. He is studying Anthropology because ‘talking about cultures intrigues me’. His work is dedicated to helping youth find their voice. He feels he’s been through what younger people are going through and uses that as an opportunity to get to know them and inspire them. He recently started an intentionally informal group called Building Blocks to Success consisting of peer mentorship through a different lens, where he has matched youth who need mentorship in their lives with his peers. Focusing on working with youth empowerment, over the summer he was a tutor/counselor for Upward Bound and was a facilitator for the Youth Leadership Institute 2016. He’s worked with youth in transition and is convinced it helps create future leaders, a movement he wants to be part of.

‘I’m not that good at singing but that’s the thing I do most….. life’s too short to be thinking you’re not good enough to be doing things!’

Kathleen Haughey

Kathleen has a background in education, ethnomusicology, collaborative ethnography, and public humanities administration. As a PhD student in Ethnomusicology at Brown University, Kathleen co-led an audio and video documentary project with Mbyá-Guarani musicians in southern Brazil. Kathleen has years of experience as an educator, having taught in both K-12 and higher education. She has additional years of experience teaching early childhood music and cello in private music studios. Kathleen received a BA in Hispanic Studies and a BM in Cello Performance from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, and a MA in Ethnomusicology at Brown University in Providence, RI.   She lives in Chittenden County and is the Executive Director at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury.

Sarah King 

Sarah grew up in a musical and dance-oriented family in Jericho, growing up volunteering at the Champlain Valley Festival, and has extensive experience with contra and ballroom dancing, Fiddleheads, the Young Tradition Touring Group, the instrument petting zoo, Young Tradition Showcases, and the annual contest. She was home-schooled, finishing her schooling as the valedictorian at Mt. Mansfield Union High School. She graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and is a 3rd Grade Teacher at Richford Elementary School.

Alyssa Miller

Alyssa grew up playing traditional Cape Breton fiddle and step dancing in central Vermont. She has studied under expert musicians including Jerry Holland, Andrea Beaton, and Wendy MacIssac, and performed at the New World Festival and at concerts in Cape Breton. Alyssa graduated from Randolph Union High School as the valedictorian and is a nursing student at the University of Vermont. While battling a life-threatening illness as a teenager, she was inspired by the nursing care she received and now aspires to be a pediatric nurse. Alyssa is an active volunteer in the community including at year round events for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta (a camp in northern Vermont for children who have or have had cancer and their families). She is passionate about living life to its fullest and has a strong belief in the healing power of music. Alyssa also enjoys hiking, whitewater kayaking and traveling.

Brian Perkins Brian Perkins

Brian is a performing musician and music educator. As the beneficiary of a strong public school music education program he is determined to return the favor by helping youth and adults express themselves and their shared culture though music. He has recorded and performed with countless brass and traditional string bands. As a member of the Vermont band Atlantic Crossing he developed, performed and recorded repertoire highlighting the immigrant traditions of our region. He has been involved with the Champlain Valley Folk Festival (Board Member, Site Coordinator), the Last Elm Cafe Collective, the Celtic College (Director) and also with various other groups fostering traditional music and dance in Vermont. Along with his daughter Ella, he has become involved in the Burlington Public School District music programs including the musical theater productions of Burlington’s Very Merry Theater. In recent years he has been on teaching staff at YTV Trad Camp and has also taught classes through Burlington Parks and Recreation, FlynnArts at the Flynn Center, Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler, the Sustainability Academy, and Edmunds Middle School, where he has directed the 6th Grade Jazz Band.

Rachel Schattman: Treasurer

Rachel is a native of northern Vermont, where she was raised on traditional and folk music, among other genres. She is an amateur guitar player and loves contra and square dancing. Rachel owns and operates Bella Farm in Monkton, Vermont, where she lives with her husband Pat and daughter Amelia and grows certified organic garlic. She also teaches and does research in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.  Rachel has been on the board of Young Tradition Vermont since its start in 2009, and she is committed to the organization’s mission to create opportunities for young people to learn, play, and perform music of many traditions and genres.

Mark Sustic: Executive Director

Mark is a consultant, educator and musician. He has worked with the Vermont Community Foundation, Save the Children, the Permanent Fund, Building Bright Futures and other organizations, and has taught at the University of Vermont, Castleton University and the University of Michigan. He has visited, taught and consulted with early childhood programs in China, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, and Bangladesh.  He lives in Fletcher with his wife Deborah Travis, who is the school nurse at the Westford Elementary School, and a watercolor artist who exhibits at a variety of galleries. Their only child Thomas died in 2001, 2 years after being diagnosed with leukemia.  After several years working as a musician in Canada and the Midwest, he has been involved in working with young children as a profession for over 40 years, first in Michigan and then in Vermont.  He has been involved in organizing and presenting cultural events, founding and directing several non-profit arts organizations in Vermont, including the Champlain Valley Festival and Young Tradition Vermont, and continues to work with children and youth interested in learning and performing traditional music and dance. He consults with and advises a wide variety of arts presenting, education, professional and advocacy organizations.

migmar tseringMigmar Tsering

Migmar Tsering is a Tibetan native who grew up in India due to the social and political unrest that still characterizes Tibet today. During high school he became involved with the traditional song and dance that are central to his country’s heritage. He has continued to practice these traditional arts into adulthood. He has performed in various locales in Chittenden County, including the Integrated Arts Academy, has worked with Revels North on their Silk Road Project, and helps to organize the Tibetan Festival that takes place in Burlington each fall. His performances with dranyen (Tibetan guitar), flute, and traditional dances pay tribute to an important part of Tibetan cultural history, preserving it for future generations. Migmar lives in South Burlington with his wife and family, and is a very active member of Vermont’s Tibetan community. He is past president of the Tibetan Association of Vermont.

yasi zeichnerYasi Zeichner, Secretary

Yasi is a fiddler and singer, and a recent graduate of Vermont Technical College, majoring in Equine Studies and Business Management. Born in Budapest, Hungary, she grew up in rural Vermont, and currently lives at the family residence in central Vermont. She plays in a band with her younger brother and sister as ‘The Zeichner Trio’, and they perform at events and venues across the state, including the New World Festival, Barre Heritage Festival, Farmer’s Night at the Statehouse, and the Vermont History Expo in Tunbridge. Yasi and her siblings were introduced to YTV in 2012, and began experiencing firsthand the effectiveness of YTV’s outreach to young musicians, and how a community of musicians can become a platform for personal development and creative alliances, as well as community service. Under the YTV banner, Yasi and The Zeichner Trio have been playing at concerts and festivals, participating in workshops, and lending a hand with the mobile Instrument Petting Zoo at events. Yasi has also been involved with the Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture since 2009, and currently serves on the school’s board. Her other interests include horses, outdoor/nature education for kids, photography, and drawing.