Eighty percent of the music stores
I visit have a music teaching studio offering guitar, drums,
voice, or keyboard lessons. In many instances the guitar teacher
is the local weekend warrior who is known around town as being
a great player; he plays three nights a week, teaches three
afternoons and a half-day on Saturday. We'll call him Johnny
b (JB). JB plays a brand " z " guitar with a built-in
Harley Davidson sustainer, corvette pickups; the latest Victoria
Secrets transparent flame finish that he mail-ordered from
Moscow wholesale because it was a one of a kind. All the kids
taking lessons from JB like his fast licks, cool jive, and
most of all want a guitar like JB's. The problem, the store
handles brands "x" and "y". Is Johnny
B. an asset to store sales? Is the store furnishing JB a studio
at no charge, or is JB paying monthly rent for his space?
Does JB book his own students or does the store help keep
JB's schedule full? How loyal is the store to JB? Does JB
recommend that his students buy here or somewhere else? Please
excuse my exaggerations but I think you get the picture.
In a small town of 13,000 population approximately
45 miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee is a store known
as Mary’s music. Mary Shafer started this store twenty
years ago in the living room of her home. Her bankers and
business advisers told her that a music store in this small
farming town would never succeed. Today Mary is one of the
largest accounts for some of the manufacturers in the industry.
How did this happen? A strong teaching program!
After begging the school system to offer
string instrument classes as an elective for general music
in the county schools for elementary and middle school students,
Mary became frustrated and formed her own teaching program.
Six teachers administer private lessons in the basement of
Mary’s music teaching voice, keyboards, drums, mandolin,
banjo, bass, and guitar. The students attending Mary’s
music school range in age from 4 to 72 years. One of the teachers
is a multi - instrumentalist who acts as a coordinator for
the private lesson teachers and students. As the students
begin to attain the basics the coordinator checks on their
progress with the private instructor. In addition he talks
to each student to find where his interests are musically
(rock, classical, gospel, country, bluegrass, top-40).
As a student progresses in guitar, he may
is placed with a drummer, bass player, keyboards and vocalist
to form a band within the student program. The coordinator
then works with the groups. This gives the students a new
dimension to get to play with others at an early level. Today
there are 250 students at Mary’s music school. These
students are part of twenty-eight music groups performing
country, bluegrass, gospel, rock, pop, etc.
The program has grown so much that for the
last few years, Mary rents the world famous Ryman Auditorium
in Nashville for their annual recital. The program takes two
nights and draws 3,000 people each night. The recital gets
TV news coverage, and has caught the attention of executives
from the Grand Ole Opry. Radio announcers from the pry emcee
Nearly all students start with an entry-level
instrument, but after getting to be a part of a band the parents
step the kids into expensive instruments in a short time.
As these bands form and progress they need larger amps and
sound systems. Mary's teachers are provided with studio space,
instruments for teaching, and Mary’s staff helps keep
their schedule full. Mary asks one thing, that her teachers
recommend her instruments when the students get ready to purchase.
Some of the outstanding students are paired
in bands that become the store ambassadors. They perform for
the local civic clubs, church socials and school assembly
programs promoting Mary’s music school and Mary’s
The music store today is competing with
computers, electronic games, sports, and basically everything
out there that can capture the public's purchasing dollars.
Music can give a person something that he can participate
in for the rest of his life. A stong teaching program can
be the difference in rags or riches to the music store owner.
A strong teaching program can give a music store loyal customers
for many years.
I wish to thank Mary Shafer for
her permission to use her program as an example on the USAREP
website. In addition I wish to thank Mary for her business,
loyalty, guidance, and friendship for the last fourteen years.
If you would like more information on Mary’s program
visit her website: www.networkmarket.com\marysmusic.
By Wendel Hartman
- United Sales Associates, Inc.