The Cat and The Fiddle strives to provide the highest quality musicians and teachers possible 
in order to give every student their best chance at success.


Dakota Karper (Owner of The Cat and The The Fiddle), fiddler and vocalist, was born and raised in rural West Virginia where she grew up surrounded by Old-Time Appalachian String Band music. From a young age she took to this music with great abandon. Absorbing as much as possible, she apprenticed under fiddler Joe Herrmann, spent weeks at Augusta Heritage Center, and various music festivals in and around West Virginia as well as studying classical violin at the Shenandoah Arts Academy in Winchester, VA. 

After living in Baltimore, MD for 7 years, Dakota moved back to her roots in Capon Bridge, WV where she has opened her own traditional roots music school 'The Cat and The Fiddle', as well as performing in the the surrounding areas. 

Dakota was a founding member of the 'Short Mountain String Band', and 'Hay Fever' releasing albums with both bands.  Whether performing, teaching, or jamming, Dakota is always looking for a way to share her passion for mountain music. 

Find out more at:


Deborah Byrd has been studying and playing the cello since she was 10 years old, and holds degrees in Cello Performance from the University of North Carolina (Greensboro) and in Ethnomusicology from the University of Maryland. Deborah has spent years as a freelance cellist, a symphony musician, and a cello teacher. As a classical musician, she has studied and performed solo repertoire as well as chamber music and symphonic literature. She has enjoyed working with a variety of groups over the years. 

Her interest in a broad range of music brought her to explorations beyond the classical world. She performed with the band Lambchop for the Merge Records Festival and worked with Lisa Furukawa to create a fusion of folk and alternative chamber pop. She also has an interest in Scottish traditional music, initially learning tunes from Abby Newton. 

Before moving away from North Carolina to pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology, Deborah taught at the Cary School of Music. She began teaching in 2003 and has enjoyed engaging with students of a variety of ages and backgrounds. Her teaching focuses on establishing a strong foundation layered with an individual approach, cultivating each student’s unique musical interests.

Jack Dunlap

Jack Dunlap has been playing music for over 13 years. Starting on mandolin, he quickly moved to add guitar, bass and more recently ukulele and fiddle. He has made a name for himself performing as a full time member of the group Bud's Collective as well as alongside artists such as Danny Knicely, Larry Keel, members of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Blue Highway, Dailey & Vincent and many others. He has recently made a splash in the D.C. area with his group the Jack Dunlap Band; a fusion group of just about every genre of music you can think of. He also hosts a concert series at the Bright Box in Winchester, VA called Spotlight Sessions. 

Jack has been teaching for over 7 years now. He has taught privately, as well as at various schools in VA such as Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA, The Front Porch in Charlottesville, VA, The Drum and Strum in Warrenton, VA, Shamrock Music Shoppe in Purcellville, VA, Divinum Auxilium Academy in Front Royal, VA and his own private studio in Old Town Winchester, VA. He also served on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization Cacapon River Arts in Wardensville, WV.