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.

 

How Does A Grand Piano Work?

If you’ve ever seen a world-class pianist playing a great piece of music, you might agree that they are possibly the world’s best musician.  It takes amazing physical, intellectual, and emotional brilliance to play such a complex instrument in such a captivating way, and only a small percentage of the world’s pianists are up to the job.  One of my personal favorites is Yuja Wang.

 

But it’s not just the musician who makes the music sound so fantastic: the instrument plays a huge part too.

Let’s take a closer look inside a piano and find out how it works!  How does a piano make sound?
A piano sounds quite unlike any other instrument and, if you heard it on the radio, you’d probably never guess how it was making a noise. The confusing thing about a piano is that it’s two different kinds of instrument in one: it’s a string instrument, because the sounds are made with strings, but it’s also a percussion instrument (like a drum) because the strings make sound when something hits them. Listen to the music of a composer like Bartok and you’ll often hear the piano being played percussive manner, almost beating like a drum.

So what happens when you press the key of a piano? The key is actually a wooden lever, a bit like a seesaw but much longer at one end than at the other. When you press down on a key, the opposite end of the lever (hidden inside the case) jumps up in the air, forcing a small felt-covered hammer to press against the piano strings, making a musical note. At the same time, at the extreme end of the lever behind the hammer, another mechanical part called a damper is also forced up into the air. When you release the key, the hammer and the damper fall back down again. The damper sits on top of the string, stops it vibrating, and brings the note rapidly to an end.

When the hammer strikes the strings, it vibrates, sets air molecules in motion and sends the sounds of the strings out toward your ears. To make the sounds louder, there is a large piece of wood mounted underneath them, called the soundboardWhen the strings vibrate, the soundboard also vibrates in sympathy  resonance. The soundboard effectively amplifies the strings so they are loud enough to hear.

If you’ve ever wondered why pianos are such a funny shape, that’s easy to answer.  Remember that they’re string instruments.  Lower notes need longer strings than higher notes, so the bass strings for the low notes on the left-hand side of the keyboard need to be much longer than the treble strings for the high notes on the right-hand side. That’s why the case is longer on the left than on the right and why it has that funny curved rim.  In fact, the strings on the left are so long that they cross over, on top of the middle and treble strings to save space.

Since each note can have up to three strings, it turns out that there are well over 230 strings inside a piano, each one stretched really tight. To stop the strings from collapsing the entire piano inwards, the rim and case are reinforced by a huge, heavy cast iron plate. The plate sits just above the sound board and large metal holes around its edge allow the sound to come up through it.

Take  a quick tour of how a grand piano works.  Check out the following video from the science channel.

headshot of kevin cranley

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.

p

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

Unmatched Value In A Steinway-designed Piano

25th Anniversary Savings

Up to $2,500 Instant Rebate

Make an appointment or just stop in to view and play a Boston Piano:

    • Willis Music Kenwood
      8118 Montgomery Rd.
      Cincinnati, OH 45236
      513.252.0445
    • Willis Music Florence
      7567 Mall Rd.
      Florence, KY 41042
      859.525.6050

The Steinway-designed Boston piano is long unrivaled in its class and unmatched in value. Employing the unique patents and expertise that have made the Steinway name synonymous with musical excellence, Boston pianos offer the pedigree of Steinway engineering with the accessibility of a mid-priced piano.

Now, for a limited time, you can save up to $2,500 with an instant rebate on any new Steinway-designed Boston upright or grand piano in stock.* It’s all part of the celebration as we kick off Boston’s 25th Anniversary Year.

*Not applicable with any other offer. Piano must be in stock and purchased by 11/30/2015.

<

Features of the Boston Piano – Designed by Steinway & Sons

Kentucky State Marching Finals 2015

Willis Music would like to congratulate all the marching bands that participated in the State Marching Band competition and those whom placed.

High school marching bands from throughout the state competed at the Kentucky Music Educators Association State Marching Band Championships on Saturday in Bowling Green.

The five divisions and their final standings are:

    • 1A:
      • 1st: Beechwood
      • 2nd: Murray
      • 3rd: Williamstown
      • 4th: Hazard
    • 2A:
      • 1st: Estill County
      • 2nd: Garrard County
      • 3rd: Glasgow
      • 4th: Washington County
    • 3A:
      • 1st: Adair County
      • 2nd: Bourbon County
      • 3rd: Russell County
      • 4th: Boyle County
    • 4A:
      • 1st: Grant County
      • 2nd: Madisonville North Hopkins
      • 3rd: Anderson County
      • 4th: Hopkinsville
    • 5A:
      • 1st: Madison Central
      • 2nd: North Hardin
      • 3rd: Paul Laurence Dunbar
      • 4th: Lafayette

“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.

Gemeinhardt and Willis Music Present PROJECT Trio

PROJECT Trio is a passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble comprised of three composer/performers from Brooklyn, New York. Blending classical training with an original sound and masterful performing skills. PROJECT Trio engages audiences of all ages by combining classical repertoire with elements of hip-hop and popular music, bridging the gap between high art and pop culture. They have been viewed more than 80 million times on YouTube and have been featured on NPR, MTV, and have played along side the St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and schools across the country.

It was our pleasure to host PROJECT Trio last week at CCM, NKU, Winton Woods High School and Walnut Hills High School. They bring with them the importance of music education as well as stories of their many experiences. With the help of Gemeinhardt we gave a flute to both high schools and did a drawing for a piccolo at both CCM and NKU. We want to congratulate all the winners and thank PROJECT Trio for two days of great music, great ideas and a lot of fun!

Thanks for listening and CHECK THESE GUYS OUT!

14th Annual Warehouse Sale

I recall last year talking to a customer who has marked this sale on her calendar for years to come. It’s always the weekend before Thanksgiving. She thanked me for keeping this tradition going and said this is the one sale she looks forward to each year. In a world where sales, discounts or even free items don’t mean that much anymore, it’s good to know that people appreciate this sale for what it is.

It all started 14 years ago when we were trying to find an innovative way to get rid of older scratch and dent items and discontinued products. We thought we would try having a sale at our main warehouse in Florence. My Father built this building in 1969 and it was later expanded. From here we manage all our stores and our publishing business, which is international. Over the years the sale has expanded, but the concept remains the same. We did have some difficulty early on because the industrial park we are in did not allow sales to retail customers. We had to get special permission but now after 13 years I think the other members of the industrial park look forward to the sale.

This year the merchandise for the sale includes not only pieces from our stores, but from manufacturers who recognize this sale as an opportunity to move items they have sitting around. Just last week we received 8 skids from a guitar and accessory manufacturer. We have merchandise from music stores that we bought or stores that went out of business. We have band instruments from our rental program that we have taken out of our rental pool. One particular band director from Indiana comes in each year to replenish his inventory for his students. He buys instruments with small dents or cosmetic problems and fixes them up himself.

Last year we added free hot dogs and drinks on Saturday, we’ll repeat that. Many of you have been here before so you know to park around the back of the building and come on in. I’ll be there and look forward to seeing many of you. Click here for details or call 859-283-2050.

Take a look at some of the pictures and videos from last year.

Say hello to Judy, she loves getting away from her desk for 3 days.
The deals are so good that Willis Employees and Teachers make time to find some deals.
Anna Marie loves this sale so much we have to bring her lunch to her.
Don’t miss out! Be one of these people.
Behind the scene setup.
What to expect.

New Teacher Alert

Here at Willis Music we are always excited to add new teachers to our education program. Here are a few of our teachers to consider when choosing the teacher that is right for you. To sign up for lessons now, click here.

Jason Easter
West Chester Location

We are very excited to have Jason aboard. His love for the trumpet is evident in everything he does. He has taught at this location before with the Moeller Music Company, and is excited to be back. “I attended Miami University and Wright State university for a double performance major in voice and trumpet. I had moved to New York briefly and played with several salsa, jazz and funk bands in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I have experience teaching beginners as well as junior high school and high school level private lessons.”

To sign up for lessons with Jason, click here.

Deborah Hodge
Lexington Location

Deborah is a great find here in the Lexington location. Here experience really speaks for itself. “Hi, I am Dr. Deborah Hodge, and though I have resided in New York for about 25 years, I am a native of Lexington, Kentucky. I am a certified music teacher and I recently relocated back to Lexington after teaching music in New York for a numbers of years. I also taught music for approximately 10 years in the Fayette County School District. My teaching experience includes vocal, instrumental (band and orchestra), keyboarding (recording), and marching band (Assistant and Director). I have taught on both the elementary and secondary levels.

To sign up for lessons with Deborah, click here.

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.

Need Something To Do This Fall?…

Let’s March!

Fall is the perfect time of year when the heat of summer has past, the leaves are full of color and the crispness in the air wakes you up. The pools are closed so if you are looking for an outside event, why not support your local School Marching Bands by attending a contest. You will hear and see great bands along with some really good hot chocolate, carmel corn and there is always something good to eat. The fee at the gate supports the music programs and we all talk about the importance of music in our schools so lets get up, get out there and attend a contest and support them financially too!
Here are some great contest you might want to attend…

  • Northern Kentucky Marching Band Festival held at Campbell County High School in Alexandria, KY on September 19th, 2015.
  • Tournament Of Bands held at Ryle High School in Union, KY on September 26th, 2015.
  • Mason Marching Band Invitational held at Mason High School in Mason, Ohio on October 17th, 2105.

I will list more as soon as the dates are confirmed. Have a great time and I will be in the stands with my blanket and hot chocolate rooting for my favorite bands!

Cindy

If you know of any marching band competitions please reply with the name and date and I will get it posted.

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

Hitting The Road with JT

As many of you know, I am the lessons coordinator here at Willis Music. But something that you may not know is that I am also working with the publications side of our business. Before anything else, Willis Music has been known for publishing the best piano method books in the world, including the John Thompson Modern Piano Course. I learned to play piano using John Thompson, as I am sure many of you have as well.

John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano &ndash; First Grade (Book/CD Pack)

 

This past weekend, we went up to The National Conference on Piano Pedagogy to represent Willis Music. This was my first time working the Willis booth at one of these events and I really didn’t know what to expect. It was so exciting to speak with so many teachers who are passionate about the Willis family of composers.

On this trip with us were Carolyn Miller and Glenda Austin. It was so great to have them both there with us. They both really enjoy talking to everyone about the music they have worked so hard to create.

On Saturday morning, Carolyn lead the Willis Showcase where she talked a lot about picking the perfect recital piece for your student. She displayed a lot of great music- especially the new issues. Some of my favorites were Carolyn’s own new sheet called “Remember When” and Glenda’s new book called “7 Minor Moods”. Carolyn talked about writing “Remember When” about her late mother- and how she sat down to write the song while she was missing her mom. It really was such an inspiration to be around two very talented composers.

I also learned about something I didn’t even know was an option to piano teachers. It is called Willis Teacher Advantage. When you sign up, you will have new publications shipped to your house every other month- simply because we want you to be the first to try out our new music. To learn more, visit www.willispianomusic.com or click here.

 

Also, follow Willis Piano Music on Facebook to keep up on everything happening in the publications world.

Good Partners and Good Music – Bluegrass

I just completed my third year of running sound at the Appalachian Festival. The Festival is a three-day event held at Cincinnati’s Coney Island. I’ve had the opportunity to mix sound for some great bluegrass and Appalachian concerts in the last three years. Reflecting back after a month or so, I began wondering: why Cincinnati and bluegrass music? I know bluegrass has a strong presence in the area. I also wondered, what is the purpose of the Appalachian Festival? With this in mind I started to do some investigation….

First, let me tell you about this year’s Appalachian Festival. Willis Music is proud to sponsor it for the 4th straight year, and along with Ric Hopkins from The Sound Workshop, I have run sound for the last 3 years. There are two main stages of the festival, where we use state of the art equipment like QSC K Series speakers and Presonus mixers. We can set delays and balance the sound so it is pleasing to listen to, while being able to hear the clarity needed for bluegrass music.

The Appalachian Festival is always on Mother’s Day Weekend and runs for three days. Music goes from 10 in the morning until 9 at night (groups play a 1-hour show with 15-minute breaks for setup). As you can see, there is a ton of music for people to enjoy. Some of the groups that played this year are: Rabbit Hash String Band, Sternwheelers, Pops & Patriots (Big Band Swing), Missy Werner, Appalachian Grass, P’s in a Pod, Good’le Boys, Retread Bluegrass Band, Wayfarers, NightFlyer, Dry Mill Road, Black Water, Steve Bonafel, Haddix Family Gospel, Evan Lanier & Bluegrass Express, Ma Crow & The Lady Slippers, and Oberst & Dowel. The last show on Sunday is always a real treat – the Bluegrass All Stars play as the house band, and all the other groups come back in a festival review concert.

Besides music, there is a living history section with Indians and Mountain people that teach on the old ways. There are lots of craft booths to pick up the perfect Mother’s Day present. Story tellers tell great stories with an Appalachian flair. And let’s not forget about some amazing food.

One story teller that is a treat to listen to (and you will walk away scratching your head) is Uncle Mike Carr. He told me a story that went like this:
A man was sitting at a picnic table eating his lunch. Sitting on the ground was a dog. A little boy walked up and ask “Mister is your dog friendly?” and the man replied, “Yes my dog is very friendly!”. The little boy reached his hand out to pet the dog and the dog growled and snapped at the boy almost biting him. As the little boy jerked his hand back he spouted, “Mister, I thought your dog was friendly!”. The man replied, “ He is friendly, but that ain’t my dog!”.

So what is the Appalachian Festival all about? It is about supporting the people from Appalachia. They raise money from the festival that then gets returned in the form of grants to help schools, community centers and artist studios throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. So far, the Festival has raised $150,000 for the Appalachian Community Development Association (ACDA), which administers these grants. Willis Music is grateful to be a part of keeping the Appalachian culture healthy.

Again, this is a great cause to keep history alive. If you are not usually a bluegrass listener, give it a try!  I have found a ton of bluegrass music that I thoroughly enjoy and some that are even inspiring. Here are a couple of local artists with inspiring songs:
One-Iota with Steve Bonafel – “Last Parade from Anthem” from Of A Family Tree
The Moron Brothers – “Story Of A Song” from More On The Morons album

Another great local artist that I have became very fond of is The Missy Werner Band. I have mixed sound for them at least 8 times, own 3 of their albums, and just enjoy the sound of Missy’s voice. If you are at a show that I am mixing, you will hear me use one of her albums during set-up.

Visit the Appalachian Festival website and help keep bluegrass music alive. Without bluegrass, where would music be today? As Henry Winkler says in the movie Here Comes The Boom, “Without music, life would be a mistake!”

Keep Playing,
Bill Phipps

I asked the president of the ACDA to tell us a little more about the Appalachian Festival, and here is what he wrote:

ACDA & Willis Music

The Appalachian Community Development Association formed a partnership with Willis Music to enhance the music at the Appalachian Festival on Mother’s Day weekend each year at Old Coney Island. By providing excellent PA equipment for the music and Storytelling venues, the patrons have come to expect the great value added sound provided by Willis Music.

The ACDA, a 501-3c was formed over 46 years ago by the Junior League of Cincinnati for the purpose of helping Appalachians and their descendants adjust to the urban life, far from the hills of Appalachia. It is hard to believe that after all these years the need for this help is still needed in urban as well as rural communities both near and far from Cincinnati. Recently the board of ACDA, an all volunteer staff, narrowed the focus to accommodate other 501-3c groups who provide food or education directly to those in our Appalachian region who desperately need help.

Our Festival itself works very hard to provide a learning environment through entertaining events, displays, music, storytelling, crafts, demonstrations and living history. The story of Appalachia and its legacy in our region must be told and remembered. The Festival is the sole income provider for the ACDA. Without the participation from our friends such as Willis Music, Kroger, Messer Construction, Midwest Polaris, Burger Farm and Garden, and Edudoc, our funds would be very small indeed.

Please know that patronizing Willis Music assures this valuable participation will go on for years to come. We thank the management and staff at Willis Music for their time and effort at helping others in our Appalachian Community.

Thank you again,
Ron Simmons
President, ACDA

Visit the Appalachian Festival website to sign up for a grant, and learn more about the festival itself.

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

Baseball time in Cincinnati

This is an exciting time for baseball in Cincinnati and Willis Music is proud to be associated with the Reds. Our connection with the Reds lives on in several fronts and I want to tell you about a few.

John Schutte, organist extraordinaire for the Reds used to work at Willis Music and in fact directly with me. John used his varied musical talents to organize and develop our in-house music typesetting department. John later left to pursue a career in firefighting where he continues today in Saint Bernard. Back in 2010 John and his band, The Rusty Griswolds were playing at the stadium and he questioned if they still had an organ. They did, although it had not been played in a few years. He mentioned that if they ever needed someone, to give him a call. To that they responded, “What are you doing Sunday?” John has been playing with the Reds ever since.

Through our association with John and the Reds we became aware that they needed better equipment for John to play on in the booth. We contacted Yamaha and began working on a solution. Before long John was playing on a brand new Tyros 4 all donated by Yamaha and Willis Music.

But probably the most interesting project we did with the Reds was with the Cincinnati Reds logo organ Willis donated and decorated. We had an organ in stock that we decorated for use around the park. It was an interesting project and involved a wrap like you might see on a car. I think it turned out great and you might see John before a Saturday afternoon game playing in front of the stadium on the Red’s organ. Make sure to stop by and listen.

Baseball is a great tradition in our hometown and has always been a big part of my life. I was fortunate to be in high school during the 70’s and the glory days of the Big Red Machine. If you were there you know how special that was. But my father, who grew up in Boston, played for the Red Sox farm team after the war. He decided the major leagues were not in his future and turned to the music business. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up his baseball ability but I wouldn’t trade the joy and fulfillment the music industry has brought me for anything.

Go Reds

Kevin Cranley

Magical Moments

I’ve met some interesting and famous people in my life and this one for me was truly magical. Henry Z. Steinway represented to me one of the most honored and outstanding brands the world has ever known. He carried the family name of a product that is universally recognized as the finest, period.

The year was 2007 and while attending the NAMM convention in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to travel to Carlsbad, CA to attend the dedication of the Steinway Gallery at the NAMM Museum of Making Music. (If you are ever in the area, Carlsbad is just north of San Diego and it’s a wonderful museum.) At that meeting I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Henry Z. Steinway. We had a chance to discuss his early days in the business and what being a ‘Steinway’ meant to him. Henry was born in New York in 1915 and while he was the great-grandson of the founder Henry Engelhard Steinway he didn’t necessarily have an interest or desire to enter the family business. He graduated from Harvard College and thought ‘maybe I’ll give this piano thing a try’. As he spoke about this time in his life I was reminded of my growing up in the family business (Willis) yet not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. He started on the shop floor doing whatever needed to be done and ended up working in various departments. As he worked, his passion developed all the way to the recognition he received in 2007. In November of 2007, he received the National Medal of Arts presented by President George W. Bush. Henry credited his time with the Steinway skilled craftsman in his early years as more valuable than any amount of study he would have done.

I think one of the more interesting periods in his life was during WWII. As the war broke out, Henry became a factory manager. In 1942, his career was paused as he was drafted and assigned to work on Governor’s Island at the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps headquarters. That’s when he met his wife Polly. After the war, he returned to Steinway and Sons and became president in 1955.

As I sat and listened to Henry, I felt like I was experiencing a slice of American/World history first hand. I sensed a wisdom that comes from years of experiences, both good and bad. He was gracious and although there were many people at the opening, when he spoke with me he was totally tuned into our conversation, which I greatly admired. Henry Z. Steinway is missed but his spirit and passion live with me.

One interesting side note is that we were in the museum that Henry was a founding member of and served as its first president. See and hear Henry in a clip from his historical interview at the museum. Notice his extreme humility. Click here to see information about Henry Steinway on the NAMM page.

I do remember telling him as we finished that Willis would one day represent Steinway with great honor. Happily, we were able to reach that goal three years ago. Steinway and Sons is a valued partner and we look forward to representing them in this region for many years to come.

Kevin Cranley

Band Director skydiving

Who said Camels Can’t Fly!

This is the most unusual thing I have ever seen a band director do. To get his students motivated Mr. Stephen Dietsch, Director of Bands at Campbell County Middle School, home of the Camels, promised he would jump out of a plane if his students earned a Distinguished Rating at the Kentucky Music Educator Association state assessment. Boy oh boy did he keep his promise. Check out this video!


Great job Mr. Dietsch, and thank you for showing our young people the importance of honoring a promise!

If You Sing or Play, It’s All Music To My Ears!

Last month I neglected to mention the Choral Assessments and I would like to correct that this month. There were over 35 middle and high school choirs that performed at the Kentucky Music Educators Association District 7 Choral Performance Assessment. Students came from Campbell, Boone, Kenton, Bracken and Grant counties. Most people do not realize that choral students go through the same process as band students and Choral Music is very strong in our Northern Kentucky School Districts and here’s why…
Congratulations to the Campbell County Camel Singers and Camerate Choirs who both received Proficient ratings.
Another Congratulations goes out to the Campbell County Select Choir who received three Distinguished Ratings and a Proficient on sight reading.
Keeping with the Campbell County theme here is a big shout out to the 8th grade Choir who received Distinguished Ratings.

All-Stars, And I am Not Talking Baseball!

Choral students from all four Kenton County Middle Schools participated in a concert that was hosted at Turkey Foot Middle School. It was a pleasure to attend and I would like to thank Mrs. Debbie Brown, Secondary G/T Specialist for choosing Willis Music to supply the music for the All-Star Chorus. A special congratulations for a job well done are the choral teachers who put in so much time and effort into making the concert a success…
Debbie Sager at Summit View Middle, Allison Peeno at Turkey Foot Middle, Sherry Clark (the sweetest person in the world) at Twenhofel Middle and Nancy Bailey at Woodward Middle. You ladies rock!

Cindy Hicks

Sheldon Cooper

Soft Kitty – Where does it come from?

Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur, Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr! purr! purr! I trust many of you have heard this song although with slightly altered words. What I’m guessing is that almost all of you don’t know the connection with Willis Music.

Willis Music is an international music publisher in addition to the retail stores you are familiar with. We publish the most used piano course in the history of piano methods. The name of that course is John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano. It along with other books by John Thompson and many others are published all over the world and in 17 languages and counting. Since 1899 we have published over 13,000 individual titles.

In 1937 we published a book called Songs for the Nursery School and we sold tens of thousands of copies. It is a hardbound book of over 150 songs for children. The book was written by Laura Pendleton MacCarteney. In that book on page 27 is Warm Kitty.

Warner Brothers and I worked together to secure the rights for the show The Big Bang Theory and they have been using the song ever since. The writers wanted the song because one of them remembered it as a child. They also wanted to slightly change the words and I’m really not sure of the reason for that change. Here is the original and the Big Bang version.

Original:

Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur, Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr! purr! purr!

Big Bang:

Soft kitty, Warm kitty, little ball of fur, Sleepy kitty, happy kitty, purr! purr! purr!

The storyline of the use of the song is that Sheldon Cooper’s mother used to sing the song to Sheldon as a child whenever he was sick. Over 8 episodes Sheldon has convinced various other characters to sing Warm Kitty to him when he was under the weather. I love the show and especially like hearing Warm Kitty.

The song has become so popular that you can find t-shirts, stuffed animals, hats and many other items with the words.
Check out Amazon!

Saturday May 23 is Warm Kitty day in our stores. Come in and sing the song and receive a special gift and well deserved recognition from our team.

Kevin Cranley

The History of the Willis Music Company

Beginning in 1899 through today, Willis Music’s focus has always been on music education. From their internationally known educational piano catalog to one of the top retail music chains in America this focus on education has always remained. Here’s how it began…

On April 1, 1899, Charles H. Willis, a veteran of the sheet music industry, founded a small business at 41 East 4th Street in downtown Cincinnati. For the next 20 years Mr. Willis and his son William grew the business through hard work and a keen focus on the needs of music educators. During that time the company acquired several music publishers such as The John Church Company and George B. Jennings and Company. In 1919, Gustave Schirmer bought the Willis Music Company, making it a branch of G. Schirmer of Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1923 John J. Cranley, a fiery, redheaded Irishman from the Boston Music Company, became general manager of the Willis subsidiary. John began as a stockboy at Boston Music and now was leading Willis Music with his hard work and love for the music business. He turned this small organization into a major corporation in very quick order. Little by little, he acquired more than 50% ownership in the company through stock options and then purchased all the remaining stock. John continued running Boston Music, Schirmer Music and Willis Music. Under his leadership, Willis Music became “The Publisher” for teaching methods and solo pieces. The John Thompson method, “Modern Course for the Piano” was added to the catalog in 1936 and quickly became, and still is today, the most widely used piano method in the world, published in 17 languages. He then added names like Edna Mae Burnam and her prolific “Dozen a Day” series as well as William Gillock.

John’s son, Edward, became president of the Willis Music Company in 1965. Like his father he grew up in the business at Boston Music. After serving in the Navy during WWII and Korea he moved his Family to Cincinnati to join Willis in 1955. He worked all departments, sharing his Dad’s enthusiasm while continuing the success and growth of the organization. In 1969 the Company’s headquarters and publishing operation moved to Florence, Kentucky.

After graduating from Xavier University in 1980, Kevin Cranley, Ed’s son, joined the company full time. In 1990, Kevin succeeded his father as President and continues in that role today. Kevin also served as the Chairman of NAMM, the industry’s International Trade Association from 2011-2013.

In the past 10 years Willis has gone through tremendous positive change. In 2005 Willis partnered with the Hal Leonard Corporation who now handles product development, production and distribution for the Willis catalog in the Americas and beyond. Hal Leonard provides an unmatched stable of popular songs and talent that have enhanced the iconic Willis Piano Methods.


In 2012 Willis became the exclusive representative for Steinway and Sons Pianos in the Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Dayton markets. Willis services university music departments, local symphonies and music enthusiasts with the world’s finest pianos.

With the 2013 acquisition of Moeller Music, Willis strengthened its commitment and dedication to school music programs in all markets. At the same time Willis began representing the renowned Yamaha Band and Orchestra line of instruments.

Today Willis Music stores provide everything musicians of all levels need and desire. With performance spaces in several stores Willis is frequently the venue for beginners, rising stars and Steinway Artists.

Cick here to read what else happened the day of our inception!

Kevin Cranley

An Insider’s Account of This Year’s NAMM Show

winter namm 2015I just attended my 35th January NAMM show. Yes, my first one was at 21 years old. For those of you who are unaware of NAMM, it’s the trade association of the $17 billion dollar music products industry. NAMM began in 1901 making it 2 years younger than Willis Music.

Our yearly pilgrimage to NAMM is always a welcome retreat from our cold winters. We go to sunny Anaheim and this year the weather was fantastic. I travel with 3 buyers from Willis (Paul, Bill and Mike) and my wife Debbi. Our buyers spend most of their time visiting vendors like Yamaha, Fender, Steinway, Hal Leonard and hundreds more; placing orders and learning about new products. My time at NAMM is involved with meetings with some of our larger vendors along with meetings with each of our foreign sub-publishers. As many of you know Willis owns a catalog of educational piano music with names like John Thompson, Edna Mae Burnam and William Gillock. Those publications and more are in great demand in other countries so I use the NAMM show to meet with our partners representing the countries of Japan, China, England, Australia, South Africa and other parts of Europe. In some cases working with translators which I always find interesting. Our John Thompson Piano Course is now printed in 17 languages.

That’s a bit about our main jobs at the show but there is much more. For me, the show is a reunion of some of my best friends. I was fortunate to be asked to serve on the executive committee of NAMM for 8 years which ended in 2013. My final 2 years I was the Chairman of NAMM and traveled around the world meeting so many great people. I love reconnecting with all of them each year at the NAMM show. In a later edition I’ll write about some of our most memorable experiences during that time. For me, this year’s highlight was the annual Yamaha concert. They hold a concert every other year or so in DisneyLand at the Hyperion Theater. The artists are unbelievable. This year’s highlight for Debbi and me was Jamie Cullum. If you don’t know Jamie, do yourself a favor and check him out. Also performing were The Piano Guys, James Blunt, Jonathan Butler, Bob James, Colbie Caillat, Nathan East and others. The MC was Sinbad and he was a riot. The show was 3 1/2 hours long and was amazing. Jonathan Butler was the surprise for us; such an amazing voice. And Colbie Caillat has such a clear distinctive voice, she was really good too.

One last thing, check out this video of The Piano Guys at a retirement home. Watch the change in the residents as the Piano Guys perform, it’s amazing. The benefits of music in action.

Paul (one of the Willis buyers) attended a concert put on by Vandoren called VandoJam. Several Grammy winning Jazz artists really killed it. It featured Paquito D’Rivera, Eric Marienthal, and Jerry Vivino, with special guests Felix Peikli and Farnell Newton. That is one of the most exciting things about the show. Artists are everywhere and each company tries to provide the best performances you will ever hear. You can be walking the halls and see Jason Mraz, John Mayer or even Stevie Wonder. I was fortunate enough to meet Stevie last year. I remember one year when Stevie Wonder just started playing in the Yamaha booth; not planned… just spontaneous artistry at it’s best.

Make today a musical day.

Kevin Cranley

It’s All About That Band!

It is that time of year. School is in full swing, and school band is something that your child is going to stick with. We have always found that private lessons are the best way for your child to succeed in band class- some band directors even require that all students take private lessons outside of school. Here at Willis Music, we are always on the look out for the best musician to help your child grow. We are always expanding, especially when it comes to band. Here are just a few of our many new band teachers. To find out more about lessons for you or your child, click on the location nearest you, or on one of these great teachers below!

Willis Music Lexington

Willis Music Florence

Willis Music Eastgate

Willis Music Kenwood

Moeller/Willis Music West Chester 


 

Armond Luckey- West Chester Location

I started playing trumpet when I was 12 so I’ve been playing for about 16 years. I attended Miami University on a full ride scholarship. While there I had the opportunity to connect and play with several musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty, Wayne Bergeron and Jon Faddis. While at Miami I was the lead player for the Miami Jazz Ensemble as well as the jazz trumpet ensemble called the Lickitysplits. I was also a part of the Miami Wind Ensemble, Miami Marching Band, and Miami Orchestra. If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Click here to register with Armond


 

Chase Clark- Lexington Location

As an educator, Chase has taught at various schools and music camps throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Teaching with his first instrument, the trombone, Chase has appeared as a guest instructor at prestigious music programs such as Lafayette High School, Beaumont Middle School, Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, and John Hardin High School. Chase also has taught at the Annie Moses Band’s Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville, TN since 2010. This fine arts camp trains 200-250 students in which Chase is the primary trombone and low brass instructor, jazz big band section instructor, and a member of the faculty performing groups. As well as teaching across Kentucky and Tennessee, Chase maintains a successful trombone studio of emerging talent in the Lexington, Kentucky area. As a performer, Chase has appeared with an extensive variety of musical groups such as the University of Kentucky’s Opera Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, the Annie Moses Band, Wycliffe Gordon, and Grammy-award winning artist Bob Mintzer. Chase also recorded with Bob Mintzer on the album “Go” which released in 2011. Chase also joined with the Annie Moses Band to perform in Carnegie Hall in 2012 and the Grand Ole Opry House in 2013. He currently can be heard as lead trombone/soloist with local artists in the Lexington area such as the jazz big band the MetroGnomes, the oldies rock group Big City Groove, and the Lexington Community Orchestra.

Click here to register with Chase


 

Stacey Krimmer- Eastgate Mall location

STACEY KRIMMER received both her Bachelor of Music degree in education and her Master of Music degree in flute performance from the University of Wyoming. In addition to running a private flute studio since 1986, Stacey was the instructor for the flute program at Colorado Academy in Denver. She also taught Suzuki flute, penny whistle, and recorder at Colorado Academy, and was an instructor of flute ensembles at the Suzuki Association of Colorado’s Winter Workshop. She also served as board president of the Colorado Flute Association. Stacey’s performance work includes Wind Images Woodwind Quintet, the ballet orchestra to premiere “Winter Moons,” the Denver Opera Company Orchestra, the Colorado Wind Ensemble, the Clermont Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Blue Ash Symphony. She also worked and performed with School House Symphony, a small ensemble dedicated to providing in-school performances by combining teaching with performing.

Click here to register with Stacey


 

 

Ashley Martin- West Chester Location

A native of Mason, OH, Ashley Martin holds degrees in music education and oboe performance from The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. At Ohio State, she studied oboe with Professors Robert and Bailey Sorton, and had the opportunity to work with Joe Robsinson, the retired principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. Ashley has performed on both oboe and English horn in numerous ensembles, including the Ohio Capital Winds, Columbus Childrens’ Theatre, and the Lebanon Symphony Orchestra. She currently performs with the Southwestern Ohio Symphonic Band, and can be heard in a Naxos Label recording performing with the Ohio State University Wind Symphony. As an educator, Ms. Martin specializes in concert band instruction in addition to oboe. She spent two years teaching 5th through 12th grade band for Crestwood Local Schools in northeast Ohio, and currently teaches beginning band at VanGorden Elementary School in the Lakota school district. Ms. Martin has been teaching oboe privately in the Cincinnati, Akron, and Columbus metro areas for over seven years. She is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Educators Association, Women Band Directors International, and Sigma Alpha Iota.

Click here to register with Ashley


 

You Received A Musical Instrument For Christmas…

Now What?

Congratulations!!! If you received a musical instrument for Christmas, someone really cares about you. You now have in your possession the gift that keeps on giving. The gift that does not care about your age, sex, race, religion, class and so one. Although you may go through many instruments, the music itself will last most of your lifetime.

Learn…

It’s never too late to learn! This is one of our mantras. Watch these videos, get inspired, then read further.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, it’s time for you to start your journey of making music.

Look…

Whether you opened up a humanatone or a Steinway Grand Piano from under the tree, the instrument is only the facilitator of your music making process. YOU are the music.

With that being said, do you have everything you need to play, maintain, clean and store your instrument? Over the next few days we will feature different articles pertaining to your instrument. Check back often for your instrument category.

  • There was a guitar under the tree just for me! COMING SOON
  • I got a drumset for Christmas! COMING SOON
  • I opened a violin from under the tree! COMING SOON
  • There was a woodwind instrument under the tree! COMING SOON
  • There was a brass instrument under the tree! COMING SOON
  • I got a keyboard for Christmas! COMING SOON

Please note if you received an instrument for Christmas that is not listed above, comment on this blog or send us an email and we will reply with a personalized list just for you!

Listen…

If you are not doing it already, we encourage you to do lots of “listening.” Always be listening and never stop listening. Are you listening? If you are, your next question might be, “What should I listen to?” As stated by one of the greatest american composers, Duke Ellington:

There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.

We highly suggest listening to “Good Music.” You should try and listen to music that features your instrument but you should at least start with what your “ear” tells you.

Remember when we said “anyone can listen to music?” We really meant it. Here is an example.

Bottom line, think about this: If you don’t listen to music, how do you know what you want to sound like?

Lessons…

How do you learn something new? Do you research on the internet? Do you just hope and guess? Whether you are a “self-taught” type of person or not, EVERYONE must practice in order to learn/improve upon a skill. “Talent” only gets you so far.

How do I know if I am getting the most efficient results from my practice time? Wait, what is “practicing?” I don’t own a “woodshed,” what does it mean to go there? I was progressing really quickly but then one day it just stopped; what happened? If you have asked any of these questions, then Music Lessons are definitely for you.

If you are a beginner and have never asked any of the above questions, Music Lessons are also for you. Did you know that it is impossible to break a habit? You can only form a new habit that hopefully supersedes the bad one. Start with good habits. Start with music lessons.

For information about our Lesson Programs, click HERE.

Combine…

Add listening to music and playing a musical instrument together, and the result is described in this video:

Recapitulation (ask your new lessons teacher about this word)…

Music is a combined effort of your learning, listening and lessons. You may catch on to this whole music thing real quick or real slow. The truth is, it does not make a difference. The amount of fun and enjoyment you will experience when you play your instrument should be the same for the beginner as it is for the professional. In fact, it gets better the more proficient you get at your instrument.

Before you click on the sign to the right and schedule your lessons and start practicing, we will leave you with another quote by T.S. Elliot:

You are the music while the music lasts.


Follow us on Twitter for exclusive offers, promos, pictures, and just all-around information!


View Our Stores’ Inventory Online!

See What We Have In Our Stores From Anywhere

We should qualify our above statement by adding… “Anywhere ‘with internet access,’ YOU can see what we have in our store locations!”

How?

When you are searching through our site, you will notice text that says “Available for In-Store Pickup” directly under the price of products on the category pages. See the example just below.

Faber Piano Adventures books available in storesFaber Piano Adventures books available in stores

If you see that text in red you can click on that link, choose the location that is closest to you, fill out the form fields completely and have it waiting for you when you go to the store.

Also, if you are looking at a single product, look for the red text located just below the “Add to cart” button. See the example below.

Snark Tuners available in-store and onlineWe have Snark Tuners in-stock at our stores

Just like above, if you see that text in red you can click on that link, choose the location that is closest to you, fill out the form fields completely and have it waiting for you when you go to the store.

WAIT!!!

“What if the ‘Available for In-Store Pickup’ option isn’t shown?” That means that we probably have it at our warehouse. Add it to your cart, choose your favorite shipping option and we will ship it to your home (or your preferred shipping address). It’s just that easy.

Click HERE to start your shopping experience!

Follow us on Twitter for exclusive offers, promos, pictures and just all-around information!


 

Tips On Getting The Best Deals At Our Warehouse Sale

The Warehouse Sale Survival Guide

We are already deep in to the Holiday season. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is rapidly approaching. Your weekends of “free time” are running out. Some questions running through your head might be: “Did the kids study for their tests next week?”, “When do the in-laws come in to town again?”, “Did you order the turkey?”, “Why are these clothes still wet?”, or “Where’s my phone?!” We can’t answer all of those questions, but we can make it just a little easier when you come to the sale this weekend.

November 20 – 22, 2015

We know your life is hectic right now, so here is a list of tips you need to know before coming to our sale:

1. Get here EARLY…
The warehouse sale is a “first come, first served” event. We typically have a line about an hour or so before we open to the public. Don’t wait until Sunday, you might lose out…
2. Purchase Sheet Music by the Pound!
That’s right! All of the sheet music for sale is sold by the pound! There will be a scale for you to weigh and tally all of the music before you get to the register. We will also have boxes and will assist in taking your purchases to your vehicle.
3. Ask questions…
There is so much product here, it is hard to comprehend. Ask anyone with a name tag and they should be able to help you find what you are looking for.
4. The prices marked are the lowest they will be… ever.
Come ready to “pull the trigger.” There is nowhere else for the prices to go except up.
5. Get here early…
I know we already mentioned this, but it is so important we needed to say it twice. The best deals are the ones that go first…

Click HERE for more information about the Warehouse Sale.

Also, Follow us on Twitter for updated pictures, more information and future exclusive deals! For this event, use or search for #willismusic and #WarehouseSale


Annual Warehouse Sale 2014

It’s Back… And Better Than Ever!

Do your internet price research; check on eBay, check on Craigslist… You Won’t Find Any Better Pricing Than These Three Days! We will even have better deals than Amazon!

Your “Dream” Instrument Could Be Here

Think about the last time you were infatuated by an instrument you saw online. You thought… “this is perfect.” You could picture yourself playing it right at that moment. You could even faintly smell that subtle “new instrument case” aroma of vinyl and wood as you imagined holding the facilitator of your musical dreams. Then your eyes catch the price… reality sets in and you immediately feel your shoulders get heavy. You think about your budget and now the “dream” instrument slowly slips away to unattainable…

WAIT!

You’re a smart person! You realize… “maybe I can find this instrument USED?!” Now begins the frantic clicking on all of the major websites that show up in your Google search. Then the light bulb goes off. The moment of clarity presents itself: A Warehouse Sale! An event of massive proportions that has used gear, scratch and dent, unclaimed repairs, old stock and just about every other form of instrument you can imagine. This is your chance to find “the” instrument that has “your” sound at “that” price.

Your Questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why?

Our Answers: Us, A Warehouse Sale, November 21 – 23, At our Warehouse, Because we must…

Click HERE for more information.

Follow us on Twitter for updated pictures and more information. Use or search for #willismusic or #WarehouseSale


Parents, Are You Listening?

Calling all parents…

How You Can help school Music Programs

Do you ever hear about your child’s school band? Unless your child is in the music program at school, would you know about it? That is an important question to ask. We know about sports in schools because that is what is pushed within the school advertising methods. They use flyers, announcements, rallies, social media and more. Ask your child when was the last time the morning announcements included a song from the band? I don’t remember any when I was in school (full disclosure: I’m in my late thirties). I think this is the norm because musicians and novices have been pigeon-holed in to a “secret society” full of stereotypes and preconceived notions… but that is for another blog in the future. The leading question is: why can’t we share our plays like the football team? Why can’t we share our successes and failures? I’ll tell you why! Musicians aren’t good at marketing. What if when a song is performed in class, it is recorded and shared through out the school? What if a recording of the music concerts were shared with the world (while still abiding by copyright policies)? What if parents could here the improvement of there children through out the year? What if all of these answers could also lead to raising a little money for the school program along the way?

These are all possible with the advancements in recording technology. You can get great recordings with only a little investment in equipment and without an extensive learning curve. Looking at Presonus product: you get the recording interfaces, the editing software and the ability to post to a cloud service to share. This opens the door for getting the music out there.

All it takes is one proud parent posting the concert to their Facebook page and the whole world can hear it. You don’t need to be a recording engineer anymore to share some quality music. If the band director doesn’t have the time to do the recording, start a recording club!

I would think with the world being so technology tethered and with all these classrooms using iPads and laptops, I am sure there are grants that will fund music technology. All we have to do is ask. If a grant can’t be secured, I say, as parents, let’s all join the PTA and push for funding technology in music.

I did not receive this epiphany until my daughter started middle school and I saw her choir instructor struggling. I immediately volunteered my services and whatever she needed… of course with Billsworld flair! I can see the Christmas production now: flaming lights and enough sound to fill a stadium!

In conclusion, If we want music, we have to drive it without relying on the school and the instructors. It is up to us as parents to make it fun and cool… just like we had it when we were in school!


Brought to you from Billsworld

Help Music Education In Your School!

Willis Music donates 5% of sales to schools…


The benefits of a good music education are being threatened. When schools are forced to make cutbacks they historically look first to the Arts and Music programs. Music is an important part of a complete, well rounded education and needs your help.

It’s time to make a difference.

Willis Music will donate 5% of your purchase towards future purchases to the school music program of your choice.

How can you help?

Pass this information on to your school administrators, teachers, booster organizations, students, private teachers and churches. Tell everyone you know. Drop your receipt with the schools name on it into the vessel at any of the Willis Music stores. All purchases from the stores or online can be used. Together we can make a difference!

Repairs, Rentals, Lessons, and Steinway do not apply.

Brought to you by Billsworld

May the 4th Be With You!

Happy #StarWarsDay

#MayThe4thBeWithYou

In honor of Star Wars Day, we are encouraging you to use the ‘force.’* Hone your Jedi mind with the wide selection of Star Wars music we have on our site. Use this link to get started.

Once you “find the droids books you are looking for…” “move along” to the checkout and use coupon code: shipmusicfree and receive FREE SHIPPING on your entire Star Wars sheet music order!

*Please note that we do not presume to have the “force” at this moment and time. We have not been chosen by the Jedi Council nor do we have any proper training from a Jedi Master.

“You will share this post with your friends…” did it work?

Music Educator’s Partnership

Imagine and Envision…

Music Educator's Partnership Brochure Cover - Willis Music Company

Imagine a collaboration between Willis Music and region’s music educators offering the resources to take the students’ educations to the next level. Welcome the Music Educator’s Partnership (MEP). This program of unique benefits offers recital space access, marketing tools, ongoing education opportunities, among other professional resources.

We envision a partnership that will enhance and maintain the superior standards of excellence that set you apart in your field. We believe that we can be your ideal partner. Willis Music has been a trusted name in business since our founding in 1899. This family owned business joined forces with one of the strongest names in music, Steinway. Steinway and Sons (c. 1853) has long been synonymous with excellence. We know this uncompromising standard to quality and excellence works in harmony with your philosophy of teaching. Together we represent the highest level of quality and value.

The Music Educator’s Partnership is a philosophy, process and mechanism to inspire interaction and to offer ideal professional resources for you and your students.

Collaborate Today

Click the following link to find out the details of the program.

www.willismusic.com/mep

Written by Seth Parshall, Steinway Piano Consultant at Willis Music

Annual Warehouse Sale is BACK!

FOR 3 DAYS ONLY, WE OPEN OUR DOORS TO THE PUBLIC….

The Annual Willis Music Warehouse Sale is notoriously known as one of the best events of the season. In its 12th year running, this sale will continue to drop jaws and raise eyebrows at all of the incredibly low prices and immense inventory that will be on display. You’ll  find Brand Name, New, Used, Old Stock, Overstock, Scratch-and-Dent: Band Instruments, Guitars, Basses, Drums, Cymbals, Amps, PA and Pro Sound Equipment, Keyboards, Pianos, Sheet Music Books, Accessories, Cases and more… all at phenomenally low prices. Come on out and see us at our Warehouse Location for some of the best deals of the year! We look forward to your visit.

When?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 from 12pm (Noon) to 6pm

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 from 11am to 4pm

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 from 1pm to 4pm

Where?

Willis Music Company
7380 Industrial Rd.
Florence, KY 41042 
 

Click HERE for directions to our Warehouse Sale


View Larger Map

Questions?

Call: 800-354-9799

Email: willis@willismusic.com

Click HEREfor a printable version.

October Newsletter Highlights SHEET MUSIC

October News – Sheet Music

 A Dozen A Day Instrumental Books!

Willis Music A Dozen A Day Trumpet bookWillis Music A Dozen A Day Violin Book

Willis Music A Dozen A Day Flute BookWillis Music A Dozen A Day Clarinet BookWillis Music A Dozen A Day Saxophone Book

A Dozen a Day books have long been the favorite pre-practice technical exercises for young pianists. Now these classic warm-up exercises are available for instruments too! Complete with audio backing tracks on the included CD, these books help develop and maintain good fingering and breathing technique – the basis for all good playing. Suddenly practice has become more rewarding… and a lot more enjoyable!”

Currently, A Dozen A Day Instrumental books are available for Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet and Violin.

Visit any of our convenient locations and mention this post specifically to a Willis Music Sales Associate and receive an extra 10% discount on the A Dozen A Day Instrumental book(s) at the time of purchase!

Indoor Yard Sale 2013!

Indoor Yard Sale!

September 19th – 22nd, 2013

Our Annual Customers’ Most Favored Sale of the Year!

Manufacturer’s Samples, Demos, Unclaimed Orders, Scratch & Dent, Open Box, etc.

Major Categories and Brands Represented throughout!

Bookmark this post and check back often as we will be posting gear, locations, and more!!!

July Newsletter Highlights SHEET MUSIC – Piano Workshops!

July News – SHEET MUSIC

Piano Workshops Edition

July 2013 marks the beginning of our Piano Clinic season. This year we will feature five Piano Workshops for your education and enjoyment. Our first clinician is…

Alfred Music Piano Workshop

“Effective & Efficient Practice” featuring Dennis Alexander

Dennis Alexander Piano Clinic & Workshop

Dennis Alexander will start out the season on July 22nd at Willis Music Tri-County Mall in Cincinnati, OH. Then the following day on July 23rd, he will travel to Willis Music in Lexington, KY to present another workshop.

Click HERE to see more Piano Clinics!

 

Jazz Connection Book 1 Eric BaumgartnerJazzabilities Book 2 Eric BaumgartnerJazz It Up! Standards Eric BaumgartnerAmerican Syncopations A Ragtime Suite Eric Baumgartner

Looking for ways to jazz up your studio during the lazy days of summer? Eric Baumgartner’s Jazzabilities method and Jazz Connection solos will help you incorporate basic jazz concepts into your lessons in a fun and non-intimidating way — no experience required!

If you’re simply looking for jazzy pieces to put a smile on your students’ faces, Willis Music offers exciting jazz repertoire to motivate and inspire students of all levels.

Call or email your local Willis Music and find out how you can receive a 40% discount on these featured jazz publication series now through July 31, 2013. Mention that you saw this on the Willis Music website in order to receive your discount. Also, this offer may not be combined with any other special or discount.

June Newsletter Highlights SHEET MUSIC

June News 2013 – Sheet Music

“Summertime, and the ‘Print Music’ is easy…”

You don’t have to be a fan of George Gershwin to appreciate our “Easy Sheet Music Sale” (however, it will help you understand the headline).

The Summer season is the time to take it Easy. So we thought of an Easy sale that would make it Easy to understand, Easy to find and Easy on your wallet. You’ve heard of Easy Street, well this is “Easy Sheet.”

For the entire month of June 2013, in celebration of the beginning of Summer (which starts on June 21st), every Willis Music location will have an “EASY Sheet Music” Sale. How Easy is it you ask? It’s so Easy that a “whatcha-ma-callit” could do it.

All the sheet music in each of our locations that has the word “Easy” located on the book or single sheet will be an Easy discount of 10% off. Here are some Easy examples:

Super Mario Series for Easy Piano Sheet MusicBeatles Complete Easy Guitar Sheet MusicAdele 21 Easy Piano Sheet Music500 Greatest Songs of All Time Easy Guitar Sheet Music

Easy Ukulele Method Book Mary Lou DemplerMel Bay's Easy Way to Guitar A Sheet Music

What if it says “E-Z?” Like these:

Star Wars EZ Play Today Sheet MusicTaylor Swift EZ Play Today Sheet MusicLes Miserables EZ Play Today Sheet Music

We will accept all phonetic variations of the word “Easy.”

Are you a teacher with us that already receives a discount? This discount is IN ADDITION to your current one! Wow, that was Easy!!

Just to make it Easy, the “Easy Sheet Music” Sale starts June 1st 2013 and ends June 30th 2013. In order to receive your 10% discount, just mention to the Sales Associate that you saw this Easy Discount on the Willis Music website. It’s just that EASY.

May Newsletter Highlights SHEET MUSIC

May News 2013 – Sheet Music

This May, Willis Music features Edna “Mae”

Do you need “Pieces to Play” “A Dozen A Day?” Would you like to “Write it Right?” Are you afflicted with a condition where you need to use book titles in sentences? Good! We have the same issue!

For the entire month of May, we will feature the music of Edna Mae… Burnam.

From May 1st to May 31st, 2013 at any of our Retail Store locations, YOU “may” save money on your methods and sheet music by adhering to this fun set of guidelines.

  • Purchase a Half-Dozen (6) of any sheet music or method book title written by Edna Mae Burnam and receive a 6% discount off those titles.
  • Purchase a Dozen (12) of any sheet music or method book title written by Edna Mae Burnam and receive a 12% discount.
  • Purchase a Baker’s Dozen (13) of any sheet music or method book title written by Edna Mae Burnam and receive a 13% discount off those titles. This deal will really save you some “dough” especially if you “knead” them.

A Dozen A Day Book 1 Edna Mae BurnamEdna Mae Burnam Step by Step Book 1Edna Mae Burnam Write it Right Book 1Edna Mae Burnam Pieces to Play Book 1Edna Mae Burnam Theory Papers Set 1Classic Piano Repertoire Edna Mae Burnam Early to Later ElementaryClassic Piano Repertoire Edna Mae Burnam Intermediate to AdvancedModern Sounds of Music Volume 1 Edna Mae Burnam

Also included with Edna Mae’s compositions and method books is the “A Dozen A Day Songbook” series written by Carolyn Miller.

Are you a piano teacher that already receives a specified discount with us? Just like our April special – the above discounts are “in addition” to your current one! In order to receive this extra discount, please let the Sales Associate know that you saw this offer on the website.

Have fun and enjoy our “Mae” Sheet Music discounts. If you feel overwhelmed with the amount of methods or compositions to choose from, remember to take it “Step by Step.”

Get to know the wonderful Edna Mae Burnam.

Edna Mae Burnam picture

“Edna Mae Burnam (1907-2007) is one of the most respected names in piano pedagogy. She began her study of the instrument at age seven, with lessons from her mother, and went on to major in piano at the University of Washington and Chico State Teacher’s College in Los Angeles. In 1935, she sold “The Clock That Stopped”–one of her original compositions still in print today–to a publisher for $20. In 1937 Burnam began her long and fruitful association with [Willis Music], who signed her to her first royalty contract. In 1950, Burnam sent manuscripts to Willis for an innovative piano series comprised of short warm-up exercises; her hand-drawn, for-position-only stick figures indicated where “real” illustrations should be dropped in. That manuscript became the Dozen a Day series, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide; the stick-figure drawings are now icons.

Burnam followed up on the success of A Dozen a Day with her Step by Step Piano Course. This method teaches students the rudiments of music in a logical order, for gradual and steady progress. She also composed hundreds of individual songs and pieces, many based on whimsical subjects or her international travels. These simple, yet effective learning tools for children studying piano have retained all their charm and unique qualities, and remain in print today in the Willis catalog.”

Edna Mae Burnam