East Tennessee has lost one of its bluegrass heroes, with the unexpected passing of Scott Gould last week at 68 years of age.
For many years, Scott had run The Violin and Fiddle School Of Music in Kingsport, TN, where he taught countless children and adults how to play the fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar. A self-taught musician, he had developed a method for presenting both classical and traditional fiddle music through his own hand-written arrangements of tunes and pieces, which he presented in progressive difficulty to his students.
In time, several of his former students became instructors with him at the school, which has been located in recent years at the Ft Henry Mall in Kingsport. One of those former students, Cori James, will continue to operate the school in his absence. She had been looking to take over eventually when Scott was ready to retire, but his sudden passing has moved that plan to the fore.
Cori tells us that Gould had not been ill, though his family says he had reported feeling a bit run down.
He is remembered as a friend to all, and a truly dedicated teacher who cared more for his students’ well being than his own. He always sought to ensure that lessons at his school were affordable so that anyone could learn to play.
Scott was born outside of Philadelphia, and moved to east Tennessee in the 1970s. He had fooled about with music as a teenager in Pennsylvania, but really set his sights on playing once he was in the midst of the heady music scene around Kingsport. His wife recalls him returning home from his hardware store job one day, and telling her that “I’m going to teach music lessons.” So he set about teaching himself, and began offering lessons at Joseph’s Music Center there in town.
He opened his own studio after several years, but had to relocate when a drunk driver crashed into the building, destroying the space.
Cori James recalls Scott as a humble and interesting man.
“He was quiet, but you could see that he always loved the young students. They would always make him smile, and someone was always bringing things in for him.”
She says that his violin/fiddle method is what will be his lasting heritage, along with the many new fiddlers he helped create.
“I went to school for music, and learned an awful lot of things. But I still use his method, because it works. The school will remain open, and his legacy will live on.”
Scott never published his method, and it remains proprietary to the Violin and Fiddle School of Music. When he passed he had more than 30 years teaching music lessons to his credit.
His daughter, Spicey Pate, feels like she and her brothers shared their dad with the music community in Kingsport. He had seen that there weren’t many people teaching traditional music in the area, so he offered himself up for the job.
“He was a very humble man, who didn’t want to ask anything from anyone. Dad didn’t even want recognition for all his hard work. He specialized in fiddle, but also taught guitar banjo and mandolin.”
Bluegrass and old time music continues to thrive and grow because of the efforts of people like Scott Gould. His love of the music translated into a love for his students, who now carry their own love of it forward to another generation. We must never forget our teachers, who rarely receive notice for all they do.
Funeral services will be hosted at the at Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home in Kingsport this Sunday (April 30) at 1:30 p.m., with visitation scheduled from 11:30-1:30. All are invited to attend. A private family memorial will be held at a later time.
R.I.P., Scott Gould.