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.

Advice About Used Pianos and New Students.

Piano-Kid                                                                                                                       Piano purchase advice for parents of beginning piano students.

A common misconception about buying a piano for a young student, is that a suitable piano can be acquired for only a few hundred dollars.  The fact is that for a young student to progress they need a better piano, not worse.

Parents may not want to invest a lot of money in a piano.  After all, the child may lose interest and a cheaper, older piano may seem the logical choice.  However, a bad purchasing decision at this point in a student’s learning journey tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In many cases a piano that is too old, or simply not good enough will soon become useless to the student, unbeknownst to he parent.  When a piano’s action cannot be regulated to the correct touch, or the strings tuned to proper pitch, the student, unable to duplicate what was taught in a lesson, will become frustrated, discouraged, and will lose interest.  No amount of practice on an inferior instrument can overcome its shortcomings.  And, when you add the cost of moving, tuning, repairs, lack of warranty protection, and an older piano’s shorter life span; a new or more recently made piano may start to look like a bargain in the long run.

I would encourage a family to look at quality new pianos, or better used pianos no more than 15 years old.  And a young talented student, moving up to a quality grand piano is never a mistake.  If an older piano is chosen, it should be one that was of good quality to begin with, and restored to like-new condition.

Although good and bad pianos have been made, every used piano must be evaluated on its own merit.  Certain categories of pianos in today’s market should be avoided.

 

  • Old Upright – These are usually 48″ to 60″ high and about 100 years old.  Most pianos that are a century old and have not been discarded will need extensive restoration before they are useful to the student.  Many have difficulty holding a tuning and desperately need new strings, hammers, dampers, and pedal repairs.  Parents who purchase these deteriorating instruments for beginners will probably face a constant stream of complaints.  In most cases, this category of used piano should be avoided for use in serious practice.  And contrary to popular belief, they don’t have much of an antique value either.

 

  • Small, cheap, American-made pianos from the 1960’s to 1980’s.  During this period American companies started feeling the competition from Japanese makers who undercut their prices.  The result was that the few remaining American makers of inexpensive pianos began to cut as much cost as they could from their production.  Many of these pianos were Spinets, which are 36″ to 40″ high.  Spinets have a recessed, or “drop” action that is connected to the keys in directly.  These actions are difficult and expensive to repair.  Many of these spinets are manufactured with connecting parts, called “elbow”, made of plastic which eventually deteriorate and break off.  Installing a set of replacement elbows can cost hundreds of dollars.  Spinets were usually the least expensive entry-level pianos manufactured by a piano company, and most are not worth repairing.  The first wave of pianos from this era began to enter the used piano market in the 1980’s, as the people who originally purchased them began to retire.  Many were passed on to this generation’s children, and now, as they retire, a second wave of these instruments are entering the market.  Many of these instruments are now 30 to 50 years old, and need some restoration before they will be suitable for the student.  Besides, many of these small, cheap pianos were so poorly designed and constructed that, even when new, and regulated and tuned as well as possible, they played poorly and sounded terrible.

 

  • Early offering from the Korean and Chinese makers.  Korean pianos made before 1990 and Chinese pianos from before 2000, often exhibit unpredictable problems.  Quality control was erratic, and wood was often not properly seasoned.  These pianos tend to be plagued with sticking keys that repeat too slowly due to poor action design, a problem that cannot be inexpensively corrected.

 

The used piano market also offers many well made pianos from the past, that are of potential value to a student.  But even these, including famous names, can also present pitfalls for the unwary.  Don’t buy without professional guidance, a piano that is not playable and keep a tune, with the idea that you can simply have a few repairs done once you get the piano home.  Get repair estimates before you commit to purchasing a used piano.  Finally, don’t rely on a private seller for important information about the piano you are thinking of buying.  Hire a piano technician to inspect any piano you’re seriously considering buying.

Better yet, visit a local piano store and talk to a sales associate.  The majority of them are very honest and would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Quality is like buying oats.  If you want nice, fresh, clean oats, you must pay a fair price.  However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse ………………….. that comes a little cheaper!                       ~Anonymous.

There is hardly anything in the world that some person cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and people who consider price only are this person’s lawful prey.  J Ruskin

 

Robert Falcón                                                                                                                                                                           Steinway & Sons Representative                                                                                                                                              513-252-0445

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer of Music Education in Lexington

Our Lexington location has a summer full of
Music Education 
opportunities on its’ schedule.

Save these dates!

 

Saturday, June 4 – D’Addario Woodwind Workshop

Clinician, Krista Weiss, will present a workshop from 11am-3pm on clarinet & saxophone
fundamentals & equipment. Plus you can come test out  D’Addario products for yourself!

Tuesday, June 28 – Carolyn Miller Piano Workshop

Composer, performer, and piano teacher, Carolyn Miller, offers a morning full of
piano pedagogy tips and best practices from 9am-Noon. You won’t want to miss this!.

Friday, July 15 – Yamaha Music Educator Experience

Music Educators: Join us from Noon-5pm for a day of musical fireworks, as a team of
Experts from the Yamaha Corporation share their products made to enrich your life!

Friday, August 12 – DCI Semi-Finals Live Streaming Event

For the third straight year we invite you to pull up a chair, bring a friend,  and enjoy Drum
Corps International live on a big screen and in a thrilling surround sound from 2-10:30pm.

Saturday, September 10 – Young Percussionists Workshop

Created for 5-8 graders percussionists, this workshop featuring local percussion educators
will focus on fundamentals & musicianship for concert percussion & drumset from 1-5pm.


All of these events are free of charge and will take place in the John Thompson Recital Hall at Willis Music.
RSVP to lexington@willismusic.com

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.

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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.

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Features of the Boston Piano – Designed by Steinway & Sons

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

2013 Piano Workshops and Clinics

Piano Workshops Are Still in Style!

Alfred Music LogoFaber Piano Adventures LogoHal Leonard Logo

Here is our 2013 Piano Clinic Schedule for the Summer and Fall.

Do you like music? Are you interested in the betterment of music education? Would you like to know how to retain and/or gain more students? Are you interested finding out what material is out there and available to you? Did you know that there are methods or supplements for every single student? Are you a teacher constantly starving for more knowledge of your craft? Are you not yourself when you’re hungry?

You will find most of the answers to these questions and many more, exclusively at… PIANO WORKSHOPS.

Piano Workshops (also referred to as Piano Clinics) are a valuable resource to you… the Piano Teacher. At these events you will be regaled with success stories, held in awe with the amount of published material available and edified on new (and old) ways of teaching music. No matter what Methods or Materials you currently use, each workshop is completely unique and you will learn something new. If you have been to one piano workshop, then you know that you have NEVER been to enough.

This year at Willis Music, we have a great line-up of piano clinicians including the Famous and Phenomenal Dennis Alexander, the Amazing and Virtuosic Randall Faber and the Incredible and Entertaining Phillip Keveren!

Click HERE to visit the Piano Workshops Page for the complete listing

Piano News March 2013

How can you inspire young piano students to continue lessons and achieve the most?

FREE CLINIC

Willis Music would like to invite you to a very special event…
Michael Chertock, Assistant Professor of Piano at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, will give a presentation entitled, “How to Inspire Young Piano Students.” This one time event will be held on Saturday, March 30th at 10:30 a.m. in the Steinway Piano Gallery within the Willis Music Kenwood store. Reservations can be made by calling or emailing Lauren Wallace, Piano Selection Executive for Willis Music (513 374-2440) llwallace@fuse.net.

Seating is limited.
Reservations will be taken in the order they are received.

Pianist Michael Chertock has fashioned a successful career as an orchestral soloist, collaborating with conductors such as Keith Lockhart, Jack Everly, Robert Bernhardt, Thomas Wilkins, Carmen DeLeone, and the late Erich Kunzel. His many orchestral appearances include solo performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, l’Orchestre Symphonique du Montreal, the Toronto Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Chattanooga Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic. Chertock made his debut at the age of 17, performing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 with Andrew Litton conducting.
In June of 2004, Chertock was appointed Assistant Professor of piano at the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music, where he received his Master’s Degree as a student of Frank Weinstock. He has garnered numerous awards at major competitions, among them the top prize in the 1989 Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition (Brahms Division,) and the grand prize in the 1993 St. Charles International Piano Competition. He also shared the silver medal in the 1991 World Piano Competition of the American Music Scholarship Association. He received the Rildia B. O’Bryon Cliburn Scholarship in 1986.

OUTREACH: Mr. Chertock is Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s Peanut Butter and Jam Series performing programs for young children ages 2 to 5. He also is founder of a local prison outreach performance series in Cincinnati.

Willis Music Kenwood Steinway Piano Gallery


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