I love old-timey and bluegrass music (I played in a Sunday bluegrass circle for years), so I was absolutely thrilled to catch this segment on NBC Nightly News last week. It's very important that we keep our traditional music heritage alive, and it's nice to know of a community that's visionary enough to keep that mission front and center.
And there's always enough work for a good fiddler!
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ark. – Even at two years old, Clancey Ferguson knew one day she wanted to become a country music star.
“She saw the fiddler from the Dixie Chicks on the Country Music Awards and she fell hard,” remembered Clancey’s mother, Babbie Ferguson. “She said, ‘I want to do that!’”
At five, Clancey convinced her mother to sign her up for classical violin training and at nine, Clancey finally picked up a fiddle. At the time, her hometown of Pine Bluff, Ark., afforded her few opportunities to master the faster-paced style so often found in folk music.
Undeterred, Clancey and her mother packed up and moved three and a half hours north to Mountain View, Ark.: the “Folk Music Capitol of the World.”
Soon after settling in Mountain View, Clancey found a fiddle instructor and discovered Music Roots – a music education program that teaches 4th through 8th graders the fundamentals of folk music. Kids are given free instruments such as banjos, autoharps and mandolins, along with weekly lessons on how to play them. Locally home-schooled children -- like Clancey -- are also invited to participate at the school sessions.
The program’s advanced students are generally invited to join the ensemble group, which takes their folk music training to the next level by performing at local venues and recording CDs.
[...] Danny Thomas, a former school superintendent, started the “Music Roots” program in the 1990s to pass down the town’s treasured historical legacy, preserved in the musical traditions of their ancestors.
"Our forefathers who lived in this isolated, remote area in the mountains made a lot of sacrifices to make life better for their children," Thomas said. "A lot of the stories that took place here are told in the songs and the music.”