Karen has a strong, rhythmic style of fiddle playing, influenced by her highland dance training. With the bagpipes traditionally accompanying highland dancing, Karen developed a repertoire of strathspeys, jigs and reels, long before she learned to play the violin, age 13, in Thurso High School.

Thankfully, the twinning of the Highlands of Scotland with Cape Breton Island, Canada, 1986 allowed Karen and her peers to focus on traditional music, which she then went on to perform, on a tour of the Island, with the Caithness Junior Fiddlers.

That trip marked a turning point for Karen. On noticing that all musicians in Cape Breton played by ear (from memory), Karen made it her mission to re-learn her repertoire of fiddle music, by ear, on her return home to Scotland.


A number of scholarships to attend The Valley of the Moon fiddle camp in California, USA followed, between the years 1988 and 2000. It was there, Karen was exposed to the phenomenal playing and teaching of; Alasdair Fraser (course director), Buddy MacMaster (Cape Breton), Martin Hayes (Ireland) and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (Donegal, N.Ireland). These incredible exponents of their respective styles, provided Karen with; techniques, bowings and ornamentations, and a vast new repertoire. Karen adopted these teaching techniques later in her own teaching.

A 1997 scholarship from The Cross Trust, enabled Karen to return to Canada to carry out the research for her degree dissertation. Other opportunities have included, playing for former president of the USA, Bill Clinton, at, Skibo Castle near Dornoch and teaching at Norway's Mid-winter dance festival, Trondheim. Teaching opportunities alongside Alasdair Fraser, at Celtic Connections festival, Glasgow and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye, as well as performances and workshops at The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention; 2001, 2006 & 2018 have been particular career highlights.


From a young age, Karen began composing, encouraged by various competitions. Her earliest writing, features in The Nineties Collection, while for a Highland Council millennium commission, she produced a medley of 6 tunes. Performed at Eden Court Theatre by Karen's trio, which included James Ross (Wick) on accordion and Niall Laybourne (Halkirk) on cello, Karen also enlisted the highland dance choreography skills of Elise Lyall of, The Elise Lyall School of Dance. The group were later invited to perform at the Strathspè Away Festival in Kingussie.

The commission music was recorded on the CD, "Dances in the Wilds". Karen was finalist on 2 occasions of The Amber Fiddle Award, international fiddle composition competition, coming 2nd place in 2011. Karen has also grown an interest in writing music for Scotland's National Nature Reserves, NNRs. Scotland's year of Coasts and Waters 2020 saw the launch of a tune writing competition by Scottish Natural Heritage, SNH, in conjunction with Feis Rois. Karen composed 6 tunes inspired by some of the reserves, influenced by the wildlife, seabirds and terrain of these wild havens, breeding grounds, lochs and dunes. All 6 compositions feature in the book, entitled; Karen Steven's New Scottish Fiddle Tunes.


Most recent developments in Karen's fiddling are; collaboration with The Tanya Horne School of Highland Dancing. Students from the school regularly perform at local events in Caithness, often being accompanied on fiddle by Karen, playing music specifically written for their choreography. Karen has also been commissioned to perform fiddle, alongside Anne Taylor on keyboard, for residents of Aberdeen city carehomes.

Karen would like to acknowledge the support of The Tanya Horne School of Highland Dancing dancers, featured throughout her website (Photo L-R, Eilidh Budge, Chloe Mackay, Karen Steven, Skye McLeod)

Karen Steven Music holds your personal and private information, provided by you, for the purpose of business transactions. You will never be asked to provide particularly sensitive data, such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, health or sex life information. Any information provided, will be held in strictest confidence. You have the right to request, at any time, that your private and personal information be removed from Karen Steven Music records.

The purpose of collecting the information about you, is to enable financial transactions to be processed. In order to fulfil these transactions, the personal contact details of the bill payer and recipient (if varies from bill payer) will be required.

Holding this information also enables the sending of any mailshots or newsletters to be forwarded to you. If you wish not to receive any such communications and would like your contact details to be removed from Karen Steven Music, you can request that your details are removed, by contacting karen@karensteven.co.uk. Once removal of your details has been actioned, you will receive an email confirmation.

Karen Steven Music will never share your private and personal information with any other party. Other than fulfilling sales transactions and for the purpose of newsletter and news notifications, your private and personal information details will not be accessed.

The information you provide, will be held for a period of 60 days, following sales transaction. This is with the exception of the email address you have provided, which will be retained for the purpose of communicating any news items and/or newsletters.

Your personal and private information will be held on devices that are password protected and secured. This ensures that only the owner/author of these systems has access to your personal information. Every reasonable precaution will be taken, to ensure that your information is protected from loss, theft and misuse, by way of controlled access to the computer systems of Karen Steven Music.

You may, at any time, request to see what private and personal information is held on these computer systems and request that it be removed, amended or corrected. To request action, please contact karen@karensteven.co.uk or write to: Karen Steven, 22 Hollybank Place, ABERDEEN, AB11 6XS, Scotland, UK.

This privacy policy was updated on 20th Sept. 2020.