Willis Music Company Chosen For Top 100 Music Stores In America

NAMM National Association of Music Merchants Top 100 2016 Willis Music

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) recently chose Willis Music Company for the final selection of 2016’s Top 100 Dealer Awards. The NAMM website elaborates, “Each Top 100 submission was reviewed by an independent panel of judges and numerically rated across categories that included customer service, music advocacy, store design and promotions and were scored in accordance to determine the Top 100 list, the category winners, and the overall award, Dealer of the Year.” (NAMM)

We would like to thank our customers and staff here at Willis Music for their continued support, allowing us to achieve this prestigious nomination. We pride ourselves on giving our very best to our customers and music community and we are very honored to be part of the Top 100.

 

headshot of kevin cranley

What’s kept us going for 117 years?

“Why Take Lessons?”

Last night, I found myself sitting in a crowd of young people, ready to play the piece they had prepared for the Halloween recital. Seeing young people get up there and play is a great experience. There was even a young girl who composed her own Halloween song! And even more, I noticed the pride of the parents and grandparents who were there to see their children play. So I got to thinking, how do we get more parents to see the benefit of music education? So of course, I went straight to Google. I found myself reading all sorts of articles about the benefits of music making in young people. I’d like to share with you the article that I found on The Metropolitan School of The Arts Website. They list “14 Reasons Everyone Should Take Music Lessons”. I hope you find this list as interesting as I did.

Colleen Cranley
Education Coordinator

1. INCREASE YOUR IQ
According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, “New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.” There is continually more evidence that musicians have organizationally and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. Some studies show that playing an instrument can increase your IQ up to 7 points.
2. INCREASE THE CAPACITY OF YOUR MEMORY
Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory. A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. A control group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children. Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long-term.
3. INCREASE MATHEMATICAL ABILITY
Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help your math skills. Also, learning music theory includes many mathematical aspects. Studies have shown that students who play instruments or study the arts are often better in math and achieve higher grades in school than students who don’t.
4. IMPROVE READING COMPREHENSION
According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.” It’s not surprising to hear results like that because music involves constant reading and comprehension. When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger/slide position. At the same time, you also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged in and force your tongue to produce the correct pattern
5. BUILD SELF CONFIDENCE
Overcoming musical challenges that you thought you’d never quite master can give you a great sense of pride. When you first start learning how to play an instrument, it seems like just holding a note for a couple beats or hitting a high pitch is an amazing accomplishment. Many small successes will eventually breed long term, innate self-confidence.
6. REDUCE STRESS & BE HAPPY!
Listening to and playing music can promote stimulation to areas of the brain that promote increased joy and decreased stress. During the past decade, the investigation correlation between music and the brain has proven that music can modulate activity in parts of the brain that are known to be crucially involved in emotion. The potential of music to modulate activity in these structures has important implications for the use of music in the treatment chronic stress.
7. ENHANCE HAND EYE COORDINATION
The art of playing an instrument requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. By reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding breathing and rhythm to the mix.
8. LEARN PERSEVERANCE & SELF DISCIPLINE
Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which teaches patience and perseverance. Musicians have to work through difficult sections of music multiple times in a row before they can play it correctly. Practicing often and working on the hard parts requires perseverance. The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline.
9. INCREASE COOPERATION
Cooperation is an important aspect of being successful in life. Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music. In band and orchestra settings you must learn how to cooperate with the people around you. Also, in order for a group to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other and play together.
10. LEARN RESPONSIBILITY
Maintenance and care are very important in keeping an instrument in working condition. Each instrument has different procedures to keep it functioning properly, but most instruments need cleaning and some form of oiling/greasing. In addition to maintenance responsibilities, there are other aspects such as remembering music events (like rehearsals and performances) and making time to practice.
11. LEARN CULTURAL HISTORY
Music reflects history and gives us insight on what it was like to live in the era and geography of its creation. Each piece of music has a unique history that is explored upon learning it. The more diverse your musical knowledge is, the more informed you are about a variety of cultures, eras and geographic influences that shape the art form as we know it today.
12. BOOST LISTENING SKILLS
Playing an instrument requires you to listen very carefully. You have to learn to hear when you’re playing a wrong note in order to correct yourself. Tuning your instrument means hearing if the pitch you’re playing is high (sharp) or low (flat). When playing in an ensemble, you have to listen for the melody and play softer if you’re the supporting part (accompaniment). Training listening skills teaches us how to be reflective and thoughtful.
13. ENHANCE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Air is one of the key components in making music. In order to play music correctly when playing an instrument (or sing music with your voice), you’ll need to take huge breaths and learn how to expel the air properly to make the desired sound. Breathing exercises are highly recommended for musicians, and they can strengthen your respiratory system.
14. MAKE LIFELONG FRIENDS
When you become a musician or a vocalist, you become a part of a bigger community. Not only is it fun to play music that you enjoy, but it feels wonderful to join together with others to create a unified sound. Friendships and relationships are strengthened through common interests and artists typically find that their most meaningful (and longest lasting) relationships are found through those they meet through the sharing their art form.

“The Sound of Learning: 14 Reasons Everyone Should Take Music Lessons – Metropolitan School of the Arts.” Metropolitan School of the Arts. N.p., 27 July 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

UC Blue Ash College Songwriting Contest Sponsored By Willis Music

Contest Requirements and Other Information

  • Open to college and high school students in the Greater
    Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.
  • Any theme, subject, or style is acceptable*
    Participants may submit up to three songs, performed by the songwriter or another group.
  • Songs must be submitted in both recorded form (.mp3, etc.) and typewritten form (lyrics only). On a separate page, type your song(s) title(s), your name, address, phone number, email address, and school or university affiliation. Name the performer(s) if other than you.
  • Deadline: December 7, 2015. Winners will be announced in March and will be invited to perform their work in March as a part of the UC Blue Ash Poetry Cafe. Winning lyrics will be published in the Blue Ash Review, the college literary magazine.
  • Submit entries online at: ucblueash.edu/songwritingcontest
    Questions: rhonda.pettit@uc.edu

*Note Well:
Songs will be judged anonymously by UC Blue Ash faculty for quality of lyrics, music, and the interplay between the two. Judges are not obligated to select winners if none are forthcoming. Judges’ decisions are final. Song submission materials will not be returned. Submissions not following the contestant requirements will not be considered. We cannot accommodate large and excessively loud bands at the Poetry Café. If you submit a non-acoustic song (heavy metal, garage, indie, punk, etc.), plan on performing an acoustic version of your song. Contestant participation grants UC Blue Ash the right to publish work in the Blue Ash Review (print and online editions; all rights revert to authors) and use contestant names and work to promote Poetry Month events.

Turkey Foot’s Mrs. Bromley wins KMEA District Award

Band of the Month…

Turkey Foot Middle School Band Under the Direction of Mrs. Jana Bromley!

The Administration in the Kenton County School District really understands the importance of music in their students lives and take that understanding and put it into action. In this District Band is a co-curricular activity, in that it is a class that meets daily during the regular school day, but also offers many opportunities for students to perform outside of school. This is not the norm in most of our Districts which offer Band either before school or after school and see students once or twice a week! Well at Turkey Foot Middle School students ​begin their instrumental curriculum in the 6th grade, with no prior knowledge necessary, and the musical training builds from one year to the next as students transition from skill-building to a truly aesthetic daily experience.

The success of this Band is due to the students who give it their all and to Mrs. Jana Bromley, Director Of Bands at Turkey Foot. We would like to take this time to congratulate the 7th grade band who last year received an Exemplary Distinction at NKU and to Mrs. Bromley, who was named the Middle School Teacher of the Year at the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) District Meeting. She will now be in the running for the state-level award.

Practice and good leadership always makes a difference between something that is just OK and something that stands out in a crowd! You will find no better example of this then in Mrs. Bromley and the Band Members of the Turkey Foot Middle School Band. Find out for yourself by attending one of their many wonderful concerts, (see Turkey Foot’s website for dates and details.

Congratulations for being Willis Music’s Band of the Month!

Cindy Hicks

Sheldon Cooper

More news on Big Bang Theory’s Warm Kitty

As I reported to you in May, Willis Music is connected to the show Big Bang Theory through the song Warm Kitty. Sheldon’s Mother used to sing it to him when he was sick and through 9 episodes Sheldon convinces others to sing the song to him. Willis Music owns the song which is in a book from 1937 called Songs for the Nursery School.

As the song and show have become more popular we decided it would be fun to produce a separate sheet of music based on the original song. The challenge for any arranger is that the original song contains just 8 measures. Several folks tried their hand at it before we turned to Composer Glenda Austin to take on the challenge.

Glenda is world famous for her educational piano music. Glenda continues to create music that helps teachers inspire their students and encourages students of all ages to practice by giving them music they enjoy playing. Glenda has recorded her music and the music of composer William Gillock in Nashville with a visiting Japanese recording team. She later toured Japan playing and teaching to the delight of hundreds of Japanese piano teachers.
You can see Glenda’s music at by clicking here.

I recently spoke to Glenda about her project of recreating the magic of Warm Kitty.

How familiar were you with the song and the show before we asked you to get involved?
First of all, I have NEVER watched Big Bang Theory. Heard of it, yes, but never tuned in. However, since the Warm Kitty, Theme and Variations project, I’ve seen excerpts online, mainly the clips where Warm Kitty is sung. I may have to start watching it!

When you agreed to give it a try what was the process you went through?
When asked to arrange Warm Kitty, of course, my first thought was to learn it (since I was not familiar with the tune)! IMMEDIATELY after seeing and hearing it, I realized I would have to put on my thinking cap to create something from 8 measures! That’s not a lot to work with, especially when you’re trying to turn it into a ‘stand alone’ solo! Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was a THEME and VARIATION. And having just done some of John Thompson’s Theme and Variations at my workshops this summer, I knew that was the way to go.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?
I’m not a terribly competitive person, but occasionally, I like a challenge. And the challenge here was to see if I could really come up with something substantial! Once I focused on the project, it materialized quickly. Improvisation is how I compose. So that’s how 8 measures grew into 128 measures of a waltz, tango, jazz and more!

Thank you, Glenda, for taking on this project. Since the music will be released in early October, you can be one of the first to see it. In addition, if you would like to hear Glenda play her new creation click below:

Be one of the first 5 people to post a comment to this blog and receive a free copy of Glenda’s Warm Kitty.

Gillock Association of Japan

We recently received a note with pictures from Mr. Takayuki Nii who is the editor for Zen-On Music in Japan. Zen-On has represented the Willis catalog in Japan for decades. Mr. Nii attended the 25th anniversay of The Gillock Association of Japan. Willis Music sent a special gift for Ms. Hiroko Yasuda as a thank you for her support of our Gillock books in Japan. Ms. Yasuda founded the Association and has done a tremendous amount of research on Bill’s life and music.

She wrote:

Dear Kevin,

I attended the reception for the 25th anniversay of the Gillock Association of Japan (chairperson Ms. Hiroko Yasuda) in Osaka on the 29th of August.
One hundred members were there from many areas of Japan and the party was really successful.
We were able to share Gillock’s music through talking to each other, playing instruments, and dancing.
I gave Ms. Hiroko Yasuda the gift from you on the stage. She was so excited and glad to have it and all the participants were impressed by your thoughtfulness.

The year after next is the 100th anniversary of Gillock’s birth. Zen-On will do its best to get many more Gillock fans, in cooperation with the Gillock Association of Japan.

With my best regards,
Takayuki Nii

Thank you Takayuki for sharing all the great things happening with Willis publications in Japan.

Zen-On

Zen-On is the largest specialist music publishing company in Japan. Their publishing house was founded by Teiji Shimada in 1931 in Tokyo, and the private enterprise was reorganised to a joint-stock company on September 13th, 1947. Since the foundation, they have been distributing, particularly, educational materials not only music, but also intruments which are fitted, right, secure and good quality for the educational purposes.

Randall Faber Concert

Concert Details


Bio

Randall Faber has appeared at the Gilmore Festival, the Wasserman
Festival, the Portland International Piano Festival, the Korean Piano
Adventures Convention in Seoul, and has toured Taiwan, Southeast Asia,
England and Australia. While in Korea, Faber appeared on the popular
television show Heart-to-Heart, which is broadcast in 188 countries, and his
solo recital in Chicago was broadcast live on WFMT public radio.

In recent seasons, Faber toured Southeast Asia, Taiwan, North
America, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. He was
a Convention Artist for the Music Teachers National Association
Conference and master teacher for the World Conference on Piano
Pedagogy, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, and the National
Piano Teachers Institute. He gave recent recitals in Denver, Kansas City,
Chicago, Austin, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Alberta, Seoul, and Jakarta.
Faber is a Steinway Artist.

Randall Faber holds three degrees from the University of Michigan
and a Ph.D. in Education and Human Development from Vanderbilt
University. In 2005, he presented his scholarly research at the 9th
International Conference on Motivation in Lisbon, Portugal.
Dr. Faber is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Seoul Arts
College in Korea. He has presented as Visiting Artist at universities
throughout North America and Asia.

Randall and his wife Nancy are well known as authors of the bestselling
Piano Adventures® teaching method and their many publications for
the piano. They are co-founders of the Faber Piano Institute.

Throw Another Book on the Barbie

One of the most interesting trips my wife and I have been on was to Australia, although it was too short. If you schedule a trip, plan for at least a 2 week adventure. It was 3 years ago and we learned so much about the country even though we were there for only 6 days. I had the honor of speaking to 3 groups of music retailers and manufacturers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We even had the opportunity to be close enough to pet some kangaroos. One of the highlights of our visit was a hike on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. You can see the hikers on the right side of the bridge dressed in blue from one of the lookouts. And of course, what would a visit to Sydney be without a tour of the famous Sydney Opera House.

As many of you know, Willis Music publications are used and produced all over the world. One of my projects this year was to secure the future of Willis Publications in Australia and New Zealand for years to come. One of the great models I inherited from my father was to find a very capable partner in other countries and let them market for the company. The reason I mention this is that being a smaller company there is no way I can effectively learn the intricacies of each market and sell our product efficiently or effectively without the help of that capable partner. This year I had the difficult decision on deciding which company would represent Willis for the next few years. I’m pleased to say that Hal Leonard Australia will accept that responsibility and I’m very excited. We have always been represented in these important markets very effectively and I believe Hal Leonard is the right choice to carry on. As in other parts of the world, the Willis piano methods are the bestselling methods in their market – names like John Thompson, Edna Mae Burnam and many others. Hal Leonard also represents Willis in North and South America and many other parts of the world and I look forward to using that collaboration to fully serve the Australian/NZ market.

Exciting news for Italy:

Music Sales Corporation has represented Willis for many years in the European Union and recently they have been extremely active in developing new products and translations. The bestselling piano method book in Europe has for years been the Easiest Piano Course by John Thompson. It is printed in many languages and just this summer Italy is getting their own translation.

One of the most interesting aspects between books in America and Europe is the different notation. Music is the universal language yet in Europe they have different names for some common notations.

Here are a few that you might find interesting:

  • U.S Note Name
  • Whole Note
  • Half Note
  • Quarter Note
  • Eighth Note
  • Sixteenth Note
  • Thirty-Second Note
  • British Note Name
  • Semibreve
  • Minim
  • Crotchet
  • Quaver
  • Semiquaver
  • Demisemiquaver

Kevin

Willis Goes to Washington

From the second my plane touched down at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, DC, it was a whirlwind of activity. The National Retail Federation sponsored the trip and I was honored to be one of 51 Retailers from around the country to receive the distinction of America’s Retail Champions 2015. My focus was with a group from Kentucky who I worked with on the Retail Across America Project.

I arrived on Monday evening, July 27th, and Tuesday morning we began a day of education. We began with a talk presented by Ohio Representative Steve Chabot. I have met with the Congressman in the past and have always found him to be receptive to small business concerns. Throughout the day we learned some interesting facts such as:

  • Retailers directly provide 29 million American jobs.
  • Retail generates 2.59 Trillion in total GDP. 1/6 of the US total.
  • 98.6% of Retailers in the US employ fewer than 50 people.
  • 95% of all Retailers operate 1 location.
  • Retail includes at least 20% of the jobs in each state.
    1. Kentucky is 23%
    2. Ohio is 24%

After all the education, we headed to dinner at the Newseum which is a museum dedicated to news and headlines over the years. When you visit Washington, DC, I would recommend a trip to the Newseum.  Just be aware that it’s one of the few attractions that require payment for admission.

Wednesday was the reason we were all there and we anxiously approached the Hill with visits to a variety of offices. We spoke about concerns we have as retailers and spoke directly to our representatives. Since I was there with a group of Kentucky retailers we focused on the southern side of the river. I appreciated the active participation each member of Congress and their openness in sharing. I will follow up with each of them and continue the dialogue about our industry.

Although I have done similar trips with NAMM over the past 10 years, this was my first time with the National Retail Federation. The NRF had a tremendous program and I want to thank them for their outstanding hospitality.

Now for the fun part – when your state holds the office of majority leader and you have a meeting with him you are escorted into the Capitol and into some pretty famous offices. While we were waiting, the receptionist told me that we were in the very room where Thomas Jefferson was sworn in. She also added that the floor was new because of the fire set by the British in 1814. I have to admit just sitting there looking around and realizing someone like Thomas Jefferson stood there and was sworn in as our 3rd President was pretty amazing.

Regardless of your political feelings or party affiliations, I encourage you to visit our nation’s capital if you have a chance and take a walk back in time.

Kevin Cranley