Mountain View couple help keep folk music alive

In Music
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Shay and Scott Pool know a thing or two about guitars, fiddles and all things folk.

The couple have owned Mountain View Music for 11 years, although it has existed for around 40.

Shay Pool said Mountain View Music is a full-service acoustic stringed-instrument shop that offers a variety of instruments and accessories.

Instrument repair and lessons are also offered at the shop.

“Our shop can handle repairs ranging from minor setup work to major repairs and restoration on valuable vintage instruments. We also build quality instruments for individuals,” she said.

Shay said instructors at the shop teach fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass and banjo to students of all ages.

They’ve seen students range from ages 3 to 93, she said.

The Pools are also involved with the Stone County Music Roots program, which is offered to youth beginning in the fourth grade.

Scott said the program is available to students in Mountain View, Timbo and Rural Special public schools, but home-schooled students also attend the program.

“Students receive free weekly instruction at the public school and a loaned instrument to learn on. It is all paid for with donated funds and grant money, mostly from The Arkansas Committee of 100 and the Mountain View Bluegrass Association,” she said.

Shay said the purpose of the program is to pass on the gift of music to future generations while preserving the rich heritage of folk music.

“Public-school students are allowed out of one activity class each week to attend a lesson on their chosen instrument, such as fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp or upright bass. Students who work hard and excel on their primary instrument are offered the opportunity to attend ensemble class, where they learn to play with a group and interact with the other instruments,” Scott said.

Several youth bands play at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, he said.

Scott said he believes the Music Roots program benefits Stone County in a variety of ways.

“I’m a former middle school teacher with a degree in childhood development. I’ve seen many studies that link children’s endeavors in learning to play a musical instrument with an increase in their ability to learn and process information,” Scott said.

“Music is everywhere and in all cultures,” Shay said. ‘We hear it in stores, on streets, from cars, TVs and churches. It makes our world a better place.

“Music has helped us celebrate, eased a troubled time and helped us look to God. Not many endeavors can do so much for the human spirit.”

Scott’s primary instrument is the guitar, and Shay’s is the fiddle.

The Pools have three children: Rebecca, 14, and two adult children, Rachael and Lukas.

Shay said Rebecca mainly plays the fiddle and cello, Rachael learned classical violin when she was younger, and Lukas plays the banjo and guitar.

Lukas received a degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has earned two national championships in old-time banjo, she said.

Shay said Lukas was also recently featured at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

Shay and Scott have spent most of their adult lives playing music with their children.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the kind and talented people all three have grown to be,” Shay said.

The couple also work with local youth bands, often spending time with them in the evening after their shop closes.

“[We work] to hone their skills and then guide them through auditioning at the Ozark Folk Center and playing stage shows,” Shay said.

Scott said he started playing guitar and banjo at age 14.

“In truth, many of the kids around here play rings around me, but that’s OK. The hot shots don’t have any more fun than I do,” he said.

Scott said most of his responsibilities at the shop revolve around being a luthier — a maker of stringed instruments.

“I’ve spent a lot of years developing skills and taking pride in my work while keeping prices reasonable. As a result, I am now receiving much work from other parts of the country, such as Boston, New York, Chicago and Nashville,” he said.

“We are currently training our daughter Rebecca to repair and build just like we did with Lukas. Rebecca was one of Shay’s Music Roots kids and legally became our child when she was 12. She is currently learning to build, repair and re-graduate violins,” Scott said.

Scott said Rebecca has built and given away three fiddles to deserving kids so far this year.

“This past winter, Mr. Hil Lytle of West Monroe, Louisiana, helped her work on her first fiddle and requested that she give it away to a deserving person,” Scott said. “Hil is in his 90s and has given many, many fiddles and instruments to kids in our community

“She wasn’t too fond of this idea until she gave the first fiddle away and realized how wonderful giving and passing on the love of music could be.”

Scott said the family loves Mountain View, music and working with youth in the area.

The Pools encourage the kids in the community to give back, he said.

Youth groups do benefit shows and play in front of the courthouse for free sometimes, he said, and the couple sponsor the groups until they are ready to go in their own direction.

“Who knows? Maybe [Rebecca] will turn out to be the next Mountain View music luthier. We often joke that we will probably eventually work for one of our three children,” he said.

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or [email protected].

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