Best of Northern Kentucky – Florence

Are you looking for the best place in Northern Kentucky? Look no further!

Best Of NKY Willis Banner

Willis Music Florence was just named the TOP place to take Music Instruction by the folks at NKY Magazine! We want to thank everyone who voted for us. We have worked for years to partner with the best teachers in the area and to make sure every student is getting the most meaningful music experience. Music is so much fun and we love that we share that every day!

Denise, Cody, and Colleen had a great time at the Best of NKY event, so check out these awesome pictures.

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Check out all of our amazing teachers HERE!


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.


Former Willis Student Hits Broadway!

If you were not aware Willis Music has a pretty awesome lesson program. We have teachers at every location ready to teach your child or even you to play! Noah Ricketts I am sure you are wondering what kind of lessons we offer? Everything from vocal lessons to Euphonium! You can check out the list of teachers here! We have some pretty talented kids in our lessons program and we love celebrating their accomplishments. There is one guy in particular we are highlighting! Noah Ricketts took piano lessons with Willis Music when he was 10 years old. All of his hard work paid off. Noah performs on Broadway now! That is pretty awesome! We got a chance to catch up with Noah recently. Check out what he has to say!

1. Where did you attend school and what did you study?

Well, I’ve attended a couple schools. I started in my hometown of Louisville, KY at the Youth Performing Arts School studying Vocal Performance. When I was a junior in high school I decided that I needed more from my artistic education, so I took a leap and moved to Northern Michigan. There I studied Theatre at a private performing arts boarding school called Interlochen Arts Academy, beautifully nestled in the woods. After that it was time for college. I moved back towards my home state and landed in Ohio, where I earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (better known as CCM).

2. How old were you when you started taking music lessons?

I was 10 years old when I began taking private piano lessons. Before that, I was studying clarinet and saxophone in my elementary and middle school band classes.

3. What were your dreams regarding music when you started lessons at Willis Music?

I’m not really sure what my dreams were. I remember walking into Willis Music at my local mall and seeing a woman play vigorously on the piano. I remember standing there totally obsessed with everything she was doing and itching to learn how to do it myself. I was totally enthralled with music at a young age but at that time I didn’t even realize that a career in music was even a possibility. By the way, her name was Janie and she later became my piano teacher and life long friend.

4. When did you realize performing arts was the career path for you?

Around the same time that I started taking piano lessons at Willis Music, my mother enrolled me in a summer program called Broadway Bootcamp. I was 10 years old and in a arm cast from a skateboarding accident. We were performing “School House Rock” and I was given the song “Conjunction Junction”. I remember being so nervous, but the spotlight hit and I was totally in it. All of my nerves turned into energy and I sang my heart out. It was at that exact moment that I realized that performing was what I had to do with my life. I had no other option.

5. What is the best advice Janie gave you when you took lessons with her? Noah Performing on Broadway

Janie gave me advice all throughout my life, even into the early stages of my career so,it’s hard to pick a singular lesson. But the biggest gift I received from her was the gift of creativity. She was constantly challenging me to think outside the box and break down walls that were in my way. It was a life lesson that has gone way beyond the confines of that Willis Music studio.

6. What musicals have you been in?

A lot of them. But a couple of my favorite roles are Terk in “Tarzan” , Javert in “Les Miserables” , and C.C. in “DREAMGIRLS”. To name a few!

7. What is your favorite musical?

My favorite musical is “Little Shop of Horrors”. I’ve been obsessed with the musical movie since I was a kid. The puppetry, music, and characters are all amazing. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!

8. What is it like living and working in New York?

Living and working in NYC is extremely challenging yet thrilling. Everyone is on a mission. If you’re putting up with the madness that is New York City, it’s for a good cause. It truly is the city of dreams. So waking up everyday knowing that your life could change at the drop of a hat is extremely exciting.

9. What was the biggest adjustment to make moving to a big city like New York?

For me it was my first job. About 6 weeks into living in NYC I was offered a job on broadway in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”. I was extremely honored and at the same time slightly overwhelmed. I barely knew my way around the city and the next thing I know, I’m performing in a broadway show after four days of rehearsal. Although it was a crazy time in my life, it taught me a lot about time management and learning on the go. That’s what I mean about your life changing at the drop of a hat! Noah performing

10. What advice would you give kids who are just starting out playing music?

If you love it, don’t give up. It’s a hard journey, but every day will get a little easier and in return you will only become stronger.

11. What is your biggest dream right now?

My biggest dream right now is to originate a role in a television series/movie. It’s a new aspect of the arts that I’m interested in diving into. So I’m excited to get into class and get the ball rolling!

So, what are you waiting on? Start playing today and follow your dream!

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What’s kept us going for 117 years?

Recital at MTNA Headquarters in Cincinnati

My wife Debbi and I were honored to attend a very special event this past Friday in Cincinnati.  Recently, MTNA moved into a beautiful new headquarters in Cincinnati. The offices were most recently occupied by a Cincinnati law firm and are richly decorated.  Gary Ingle (MTNA CEO) and Brian Shepard (MTNA COO) were approached by the landlord to take an additional space at an extremely attractive price.  While not in the original plans, Brian and Gary envisioned a recital hall where pianists could perform and music lovers could enjoy live piano performances.  After securing the room, they approached longtime partners Steinway and Sons, and Willis Music about securing a piano for the space.  Steinway and Sons supplied the piano and Willis took care of the delivery which was a challenge in itself.  Their offices are in the PNC tower which when built in 1913 was the fifth tallest tower in the world.  The only problem with this beautiful historic building is that it doesn’t have freight elevators and the passenger elevators are extremely small.  We carefully measured and determined that we could fit a Steinway and Sons Model S. Regardless of our careful measurement our fingers were crossed on the day of the move and it went off without a hitch.

This inaugural concert was held in conjunction with the MTNA Board of Directors Meeting with board members and friends present.  Steinway Artist and CCM Eminent Scholar, James Tocco performed and certainly showed off all this beautiful piano is capable of.  He entertained everyone in attendance with not only his music but entertaining stories about the music he chose.

Steinway and Sons and Willis Music were pleased to be asked by MTNA to partner in bringing another live music venue to MTNA members and the music community of Greater Cincinnati.


Pictured:  (L to R) Gary Ingle, MTNA; Rebecca Grooms Johnson, MTNA; Kevin Cranley, Willis Music; James Tocco, CCM; Sally Coveleskie, Steinway and Sons; Peter Landgren, CCM; Darren Marshall, Steinway and Sons

Flute Player Sidelined with Concussion!

OK, so I did a google search for this seemingly ridiculous headline and found nothing so I made it up. Concussions have become a serious concern in sports and I’m pleased the subject is getting it’s due attention.  But what I want to talk to you about is what always seems to be the topic when it comes to budget problems in our schools.  When cuts are made do we cut band or sports.  Unfortunately many times band seems to get the short end of the funding stick.  This article points out what most of us have known for years.  Involvement in music is vital to the total education of our children.  I know you will enjoy the article as I did and I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


Education Week
Published Online: June 23, 2015
Football or Music? What’s the Best K-12 Investment?
By John R. Gerdy


In a perfect world, all high school activities would be fully funded. But to educators struggling to find the financial means to establish and pay for educational priorities, it is clear that we do not live in a perfect world.

Today’s schools are subjected to growing pressures from increased academic standards and the expectation that they will provide all of their students with an education worthy of the 21st century. These demands must be met, moreover, in a climate of sharply declining resources. The world is changing at breathtaking speed, and the challenges inherent in responding to that change are daunting. So, too, are the economic stresses on schools.

All that being the case, communities and school boards have to be more open, honest, thoughtful, and strategic in considering how to allocate scarce educational resources. When program cuts are necessary, priorities must be set and difficult choices made. Traditionally, one choice has been between fielding elite athletics programs and maintaining enriching programs in the arts—with the arts usually being the first to suffer. Because the challenges and funding gaps for schools will only increase, such decision making will become more and more difficult.

In such an environment, the fundamental question we should ask about program funding is this:
Which activities produce the best educational return on investment? And the first principle in making such decisions should be clear: We can no longer afford to sponsor activities based only on anecdotal evidence of benefit, or simply because we have always done so, or because a particular activity’s “lobby” screams the loudest.

The decisions also must be made with the recognition that the American economy has changed from one based on industrial might to one driven by technology, creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Simply put, every issue the nation faces, whether relating to health care, the environment, or geopolitics, bears the stamp—and holds the complexity—of an increasingly fast-paced and interconnected world. There is no way to effectively meet the challenges wrought by change and complexity without developing in our people greater creativity, social adaptability, and the ability to think more broadly and with greater depth.

What does this mean for decision making on priorities and funding? First, we must rethink the criteria we use. For too long, educators have relied primarily on personal experiences and anecdotal evidence in making decisions about extracurricular programs. That is no longer enough. Decisions must also be driven by fact, data, and research. Fortunately, there is a growing research base on the impact of both football and music on student learning and engagement, brain function, academic environment, and health (both individual and public) to draw on.

Because a more thorough understanding of the wide range of issues surrounding these activities is imperative, I recently conducted a return-on-investment analysis of the effectiveness as educational tools of football
(because it consumes by far the most resources of school athletic departments) and music
(because it is the arts-program component with which I am most familiar).

The purpose was clear and simple: to present a thoughtful, thorough, and clear-eyed assessment of the relative value of football versus music programs in providing students with learning experiences most suited to the 21st century.

As a life-long athlete and musician who believes in the power of both sports and music to change people’s lives, this investigation has been a long and, at times, disconcerting journey. But here’s where my experience and the data have led.

There are several areas—student engagement; development of positive character traits such as self-discipline, teamwork, and personal responsibility; and capacity to bring people together to build community—in which both football and music have similar positive impacts. There is little, if any, difference, for example, between the sacrifices made, lessons learned, and effort required as a sports-team member whose goal is winning games and a band member who is working to achieve a particular “sound.”

But from there, the similarities mostly end. When considering the broadest impact on education over the longest period of time, music programs are far superior to football programs in return on dollars invested.

Consider music’s pluses: the capacity to be a lifelong participatory-learning activity (football, for all but a select few, ends after high school); the fact that music is a universal language (football is uniquely American); its gender inclusiveness; a far lower cost-per-student ratio; the potential it offers as an essential platform for international and interdisciplinary studies; and its effectiveness in strengthening the brain’s neural activity and development (versus the possibility, if not the likelihood, of sustaining brain trauma). Finally, the effectiveness of sports as an educational tool has been steadily diminishing as athletic programs have become more about the end result—winning—and less about the process (learning).

Given contemporary social and economic realities, many have questioned the wisdom of continuing to teach with curricular offerings and methods more suited to the industrial needs of the 20th century. Would it not also be wise to question the activities we sponsor at schools in light of current needs? Are we sacrificing in budget battles and narrowed thinking the most effective tools in our educational arsenal for teaching creativity? I believe we are. Music produces results much more in sync with a creative, information-based global economy and world community.

This is not to say that football does not have a place in our society. It does. Rather, the question is whether that place should continue to be within our education system.

In the end, the dialogue about these funding decisions must be more thorough, reasoned, honest, and data-driven. With increased expectations and decreased resources comes a smaller margin for error. We have to make every dollar count.

When dealing with the programs and activities that add so much to the human dimension of learning, we need the courage and commitment to go where logic, truth, Visit Opinion. and data take us. Despite the fact that some of the answers to our sports-versus-arts conundrum may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, educators should welcome the discussion. If we approach it honestly, the end result will be better schools, serving our children and communities more effectively. Isn’t that what we all want and what our nation needs?

John R. Gerdy is the founder of the nonprofit educational organization Music For Everyone, in Lancaster, Pa., and the author of Ball or Bands: Football vs. Music as an Educational and Community Investment. He can be reached at