FALMOUTH (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Don Roy is the conductor of the group he calls "Fiddle-icious." He and his wife Cindy are accomplished musicians themselves, recently the recipients of the National Heritage Fellowship Award for their roles in perpetuating a heritage through their traditional music.
More than 15 years ago, Roy started offering lessons to anyone who wanted them at no charge, his way of giving back.
"I said I want to do this but I want to make it available to anybody no matter what their income level is. So we agreed to do a $10 donation and that would help pay for people who would be there that night, and 10 people showed up," recalls Roy.
By the fall of next year, around 30 people showed up. Then came the idea to finish the yearly lessons with a concert.
"We start off slow so everyone has a chance to learn the melody and the basic tune," says Roy. "As things speed up I write simple harmonies so the people who are beginners can just play long simple notes that really create the sound." A sound that is impressive, considering many of these "students" haven't touched the instrument in years; others are brand new to music, like 8-year-old member Kai Siu.
From the youngest to the oldest and the most talented to the most struggling, Don and Cindy Roy aren't the only ones teaching. Everyone here is willing to help their neighbor and volunteers help in and out of the classroom.
"You can see it happen," says Roy. "I remember people coming in and putting tape on their fingerboard so they know where to put their fingers. Two to three years later the tape is gone, and the next thing you know they’re all excited to play the melody all the way through in tune. So that whole thing is churning too."
As word spreads about what's happening in this Falmouth church hall, along come more instruments and more musicians. "Our roster was over 140 the last I checked."
Yet Fiddle-icious remains completely donation based, $3-5 a lesson if you can spare it, dropped right into the same old fiddle case used from the very beginning. The money simply helps pay the cost of the hall and setting up the concerts.
"And I know it works because I know of people who have lost their jobs, fallen on hard times, and they still come and they don’t put any money in the box and they feel comfortable doing it," says Roy. "But then there are other people that come and put more than $3 to $5 in so they take care of each other." "I’ve seen somebody throw a $50 in there," adds Cindy.
You can see Fiddle-icious in action at the end of October. For a full list of concerts, click here.