The instructor-owners at Dennis Port’s West Bend Music bring a passion for music to their students and the community.By Lisa Cavanaugh | Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer
On any given day, amid the bustle of Dennis Port’s main Route 28 drag, pleasing notes of piano, guitar, violin, ukulele, mandolin and even an Irish whistle emanate from the storefront of West Bend Music. The four musician-instructor owners, Monica Rizzio, Demetrius Becrelis, Alex Becrelis and Clayton March run a thriving music education business here—while still finding time to perform their own songs and sounds.
The two Cape Cod-based Becrelis brothers formed the popular pop/folk group Tripping Lily with Rizzio, a native Texan who met them in Nashville, Tennessee, at a singer/songwriter night. Throughout a decade of performing together, the trio were also offering musical instruction independently here on Cape Cod, so in 2009 they decided to join forces and open West Bend Music along with Clayton March, a clarinetist and fiddler.
“Monica, Alex and I met Clayton at a local music gathering on the Cape called the Thursday Night Chefs and instantly gelled,” says Demetrius. “We started off as great friends, so it was very natural adding another component of partnership.”
Their original location was located on a rather sharp twist of Route 28 not far from the Bass River. “One day I was looking at the building from across the street,” says Demetrius. “I’m standing in West Dennis and watching cars flying around that bend and the name just slapped me in the face.”
While teaching hundreds of students of all ages keeps the four of them busy, they agree that the best part about music instruction is knowing how much they inspire others and witnessing their students morph into great musicians. The teachers also get a thrill from their older adult students who show the same level of excitement as the kids. “They are smiling from ear to ear and can’t wait to create a history with that instrument,” says Demetrius.
The school moved to its current, larger location in 2011 to accommodate a long waiting list of people wanting to study music. “We were one of the first businesses to take a leap of faith when the Dennis Port revitalization first begun, and we are glad we did,” says Demetrius. “We love our neighbors, and we love how much pride each business has displayed.”
Each of the owners has specialties in teaching and different trajectories in professional performance. Although Tripping Lily dissolved five years ago, the Becrelis brothers plan to bring it back in some form in the future. March is a very busy Celtic performer who regularly takes his West Bend Celtic music students to Ireland, where they enter—and often win—music competitions. Rizzio has been building a solid solo career through an extensive tour schedule in the U.S. in support of her album “Washashore Cowgirl.”
In addition to teaching and performing, Rizzio also founded and launched Vinegrass, a nonprofit music production company that raises money for scholarships, instruments and grants through concerts and an annual roots-music festival. “I started Vinegrass to help give back to those that helped me follow my musical dreams,” says Rizzio, who couldn’t afford instruments or lessons while growing up in East Texas. The organization’s newest project is an instrument donation program called Sponsor a Uke, and Rizzio calls it a chance to change a music student’s life.
She and her three partners are clearly all very passionate about music and each credits West Bend for bringing the community together, while also bringing them closer to their own music. “You can’t say that about many jobs,” says Demetrius, “and because of that, we are extremely grateful.”
West Bend Music, 679 Main St., West Dennis, 508-394-8600