Isaac Callender – Sand Coulee, MT

Isaac Callender was born in Great Falls, Montana. He began playing violin at the age of three and, at age seven due to sibling rivalry, he switched to fiddling. As a young teenager, Isaac had the opportunity to learn and tour with Dick and Lisa Barrett as a fiddle student and guitarist. During this time, he not only studied music but also studied violin luthiery with the Barretts.

After joining the Army National Guard in 1998, Isaac attended Western Montana College and Eastern Oregon University where he studied music education. During that time he recorded several albums and formed a band. After relocating to Spokane, Washington, Isaac joined the 133rd Army Band as a bass and guitar player. While living in Spokane, Isaac taught at JayDean Ludiker’s fiddle school and published three books of fiddle tunes.

In 2006 Isaac was honorably discharged from the Army and joined April Verch on tour. 2009 found Isaac in Pendleton, Oregon where he incorporated the Pendleton Music Company, a full service music store. He acted as general manager for two years before returning to playing and teaching full time. Isaac currently lives in Sand Coulee, Montana. He continues to teach, judge, tour, and publish tune books with his wife Louise.


My judging philosophy is: I like to hear a fiddler make music in their own way. Timing, intonation, tone, and melody are all important but musicality is paramount. I also give extra “happy points” for things that make me smile such as original variations, perfectly executed double stops, and toe tapping groove.