The Importance of a Strong Teaching Program


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 the event.

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 music.

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.

8/08/2003
USA REPS and Tacoma Guitar Company to part ways effective September 1, 2003.

8/01/2003
B-Band Ltd. Appoints United Sales Associates representatives for the Southeastern USA.

7/17/2003
USA REPS is awarded The Presidents Award from Audio Techinca for outstanding commitment and dedication.

Ed and Wendel accept the Presidents Award from Philip Cajka, Audio-Technica President and C.E.O. and Kal Mullens, Director, Strategic Account Sales

5/01/2003
USA Reps Carolina secures 11,000 square foot office and distribution center.

2/01/2003
Josh Early appointed Systems Contractor representative for the Carolinas.

1/01/2003
Chris Flatt appointed MI representative for Western Tennessee and Mississippi.

1/01/2003
Ed Rider awarded Tacoma Guitar Rep of the Year.

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