If you're strolling through the Kingsport Town Center and you hear some folk music, don’t worry. You're not losing your mind and it isn’t your internal theme music. It’s the new location for the Violin and Fiddle Instruction School of Music.
Owner Scott Gould was forced to move his business from the place it occupied for the past 10 years on Memorial Boulevard after the building was demolished by a drunk driver.
“We [were] out of business for the past two weeks,” Gould said, as he took a break from fixing up his new space. “We aren’t going to let this accident stop us.”
The school offers personal instruction for the violin, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo - all of which Gould and his instructors have developed a deep admiration for.
Gould has been playing a stringed instrument for the past 50 years. He started with the guitar when he was 15 years old due to his love of rock and roll. His interest then shifted in the early 1970s as he relocated to Kingsport, where he first heard Appalachian music.
“Back then, it was a big deal. If you could play the guitar, it was something special,” Gould said.
But hearing the traditional American music, with its roots found in Scotland and Ireland, he acquired a burning desire to learn the fiddle. His passion for the music directed him to learn other string instruments and to share what he learned with others.
“My talent doesn’t lie in musicianship necessarily,” Gould said, “but in creating an organized method for people to learn, and collecting music that people really enjoy playing.”
While the humble man tries to deflect any accolades, there is no denying that he has talent. He has helped to mold and fine-tune the talents of thousands of musicians in the area. One of his students turned instructors, Jessica Ball, credits her long-time teacher for her skills.
“He taught me everything that I know from playing to teaching,” Ball said. “He teaches the fundamentals and motivated me to stay with it for 20-plus years.”
Ball is just one of the many instructors that was once a pupil of Gould’s; many of them have been under his tutelage for over 10 years. He handpicked them, not only for their talent but their personalities. All of the instructors are knowledgeable about the instruments they play and are quick to correct any misconceptions that might be had - one being that there are two separate instruments known as the violin and the fiddle.
“Violin and fiddle are one in the same,” Gould said. “Fiddle is an expression referring to playing traditional as opposed to classical music. Appalachian fiddle music is based on Celtic music from Scotland and Ireland. Music from Scotland, Ireland and Appalachia played on a violin is called fiddling. People think that it is two different instruments, but it’s not.”
Small bits of information like this could have been lost, along with the structure of the building that the school once occupied. But Gould is too devoted to allow something like that to detour his plans. It has actually allowed his music tutoring lineage to come full circle.
“It’s a bit ironic,” Gould said of the situation.
A location inside the mall is one of the first places that he was able to begin teaching music when he worked for Music Matters. That was the job that he left to begin his own music school after acquiring a waiting list for students. The new location, on the top level to the right of the escalators, will feature three studios. The makeup will be similar to the old building and Gould couldn’t be happier.
“The folks at the mall were very generous and understanding and gave us an opportunity to relocate to a very comfortable and secure place,” Gould said.
For the past 12 years, the mall has been the home for the school's holiday music recital. During the performance, over 100 students get to play all types of holiday songs.
The school will be holding an open house from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, where people are welcome to come and check out the new location and find out more information about the private lessons that they offer. For information, call 423-416-3742 or visit schoolofmusickpt.com. You can also stop by to see the new location at Kingsport Town Center.