“Et tu, Brute?”…
nah, don’t “beware the Ides of March,” let’s jam on March 15th! In fact, it’s 2 days before St. Patrick’s Day – we can all play “Sweet Molly Malone” and other standards, along with any other music that you would like to perform.
So come on out to the Willis Music Open Mic Night – Wednesday, March 15th from 6-8 PM. It is in the studio/stage area which is immediately to the left as you walk through the door.
Also, if you’re needing sheet music to bone up on your Irish Folk classics, Willis has you covered! Willis has everything you need musically – new and used instruments, instrument repair, sheet music, audio accessories, etc… – they have it!
Stop in, tune up, warm up your vocal cords and picking fingers and we’ll make some beautiful music on Wednesday, March 15th from 6pm to 8pm. See you there!!!
This week Willis Music will be in the Exhibit Hall at the 2017 Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) Conference in Louisville, KY. Stop by our booth between 9am-5pm on Thurs. & Fri. to say hello and Experience Yamaha! Be sure to ask us about our KMEA PRICING on all items we will have on display.
The Willis Music staff planning to be present include, Chris Teesdale (manager of our Lexington location), Matthew Powell (Keyboard Specialist for our Lexington location), Chase Clark (School Service Representative for Central KY), and Michelle VanSickle (School Service Representative for Northern KY). In addition to other members of our Willis Music team, we welcome representatives from the Yamaha Corporation Keyboard & Pro Music divisions who will join us in our exhibit.
Below is a brief preview of what we will have on display for demonstration:
As the ONLY Yamaha Acoustic Piano dealer in Kentucky we are excited to feature
the Yamaha B2 Acoustic Upright Piano with Silent technology.
This piano is perfect for practice rooms, small performance venues, and even at home.
The CLP-585 Yamaha Clavinova is one instrument in the KMEA Exhibit Hall you will want to hear!
Experience the unparalleled sound quality of a CFX Grand & Bosendorfer.
“Quite simply, the finest CLP Clavinova ever made.”
Woodwind, Brass, and String musicians will find numerous Professional and Intermediate instruments on display at our KMEA booth and available for demonstration!
This includes Yamaha flutes, clarinets, oboe, saxophones,
trumpets, french horns, and trombones!
Plus, we will have Eastman violins, and Yamaha Silent Electric Violins!
Too many instruments to include photographs – so come check this out for yourself at our booth!
Looking for a specific item or want to know more? TEXT US AT 859-474-2664.
The Yamaha TF Rack Digital Mixer is one of the newest and coolest products in the music industry for 2017
and we will have it for you to play with and learn about at KMEA!
This is perfect for any marching band program looking to amplify instruments and voices.
Plus, it works great in a theater or any portable environment!
Be sure to check out the affordable and dynamic Yamaha DBR Loudspeaker Series we will have in our booth at KMEA –
as well as Chauvet Lighting.
We offer free installation for any school environment needing pro audio or lighting!
Guitar has quickly become a large part of music classrooms in Kentucky!
In 2016 we helped fill up a classroom of guitars at Coventry Oak Elementary (Lexington),
George Rogers Clark High (Winchester), and East Jessamine High (Nicholasville).
Come strum a few chords with us this week at our KMEA booth
featuring some popular classroom guitars by Yamaha.
We also have their Transacoustic Guitar on hand for those of you who want to experience something really special on a guitar!
We plan to bring a few Kala Ukuleles with us too! Another great tool for music educators!
In 2016 Yamaha released the Montage synthesizer! It will blow your socks off!
Imagine the MOTIF and DX models combined – and it’s user friendly!
For KMEA we will have the Montage and a CP4 Stage Piano on display.
Percussionists, we’ve made sure to bring some fun items for you at KMEA as well.
A sweet sounding custom made Holloman snare drum, along with two BRAND NEW
concert snare drum sticks by Promark! We love these!
Featuring the Concert One and Concert Two drumsticks. Come give them a try!
And finally…. the Yamaha DTX Multi 12 pad! Used extensively in the Hamilton musical, as well as through out the marching band and indoor percussion activities.
Don’t let the winter weather slow you down this month! We are excited to come to work each day in February to serve YOU in all your musical needs. Come enjoy “The Yamaha Experience” at our Lexington location!
Did you know there is an app out there for certain digital pianos, for electronic drumkits, and for guitar amplifiers? Explore the amazing possibilities these apps create at our Yamaha App Corner in Lexington!
February always brings out one of our biggest sale events of the year! Don’t miss the annual Willis Music Penny Sale, February 23-26! There will be over twenty deals when purchasing one item, you get another item for only a penny! Could you ever imagine getting an guitar clip-on tuner for only $0.01? What about purchasing an ukulele for $0.01?! Even better, how about a Powerwerks speaker for $0.01!! You will find those deals and much more during our Penny Sale event.
Two events you’ll want to add to your personal calendars in February include the GUITAR WORKSHOP with Alan Robinson, on Saturday, February 11 at 4 p.m. This workshop is going to be great for any level of musicianship! In fact, we promise you that its not even necessary that you play guitar in order to attend this free workshop. Learn how to solo over different chord progressions, and gain a few tricks in how to create your own melodies!
Our monthly Disklavier concert on the 4th Friday takes place on February 24 at 6 p.m. Attend a live piano concert, in an intimate setting, with tons of technology making it all happen! It’s a beautiful evening you’ll be happy to experience!
Check out our February calendar of events:
The new Fender American Professional Series is here! We’ve got them in stock at our Florence store and coming soon to our other locations. WELCOME TO THE NEXT CHAPTER!
Simply put, pickups are the heart and soul of an electric instrument’s voice. The American Professional series features our newest pickup offering: V-Mod single-coil pickups. Updated versions of our classic designs, modified for modern performance, V-Mod pickups are packed with authentic Fender tone. V-Mod pickups, and the newly redesigned ShawBucker™ humbucking pickups are voiced specifically for each position, bringing out the nuances of your playing.
NEW MODELS We’re excited to add three new models to the American Professional Series: the Tele®Deluxe, Jazzmaster® and Jaguar® guitars. The left-of-center Jazzmaster and Jaguar models are particularly prized for their unique style, feel and flexible control schemes.
NEW COLORS Three new colors—Sonic Gray, Mystic Seafoam, Antique Olive—are joined by the revival of a true classic, our instantly recognizable Butterscotch Blonde (available only on Tele models).
Check out the videos below and stop in and check them out!
New at Willis and Moeller Music is the New Ortega Horsekick Pro! This is a great accessory for just about any musician. Solo acoustic player? Add hands free kick drum, tambourine, cajon, cowbell, or casaba to your song. Great for percussionist also. Bassist can also benefit as you’ll see in the video below. Stop by and check one out today!
DIGITAL STOMP BOX with multiple built-in digital samples of percussion sounds that can be played on its own, as a percussive instrument, or blended with your stringed instrument signal through the output.
Our long anticipated warehouse sale is coming up this month! This is the 15th annual sale and it will be bigger and better than ever! We have new surprises in store and more awesome deals that you don’t want to miss!
New this year are pianos. Check out our used pianos and pre-shop the warehouse sale.
We have exciting news for our guitar customers! The new Fender Offsets have just arrived at a Willis store near you! We are excited to share this awesome news with you. Come on into a location near you and shred for a couple of minutes on one of these beauties! You can check out some of the videos and pictures of all for a preview. Like what you see? Go ahead and add a Fender Offset to your collection we know you want to!
Left-of-center expression for the next generation of players. Introducing the new Fender Offset series. Five new models based on classic designs but re-envisioned for today. You’re seeing them played everywhere from South by Southwest to Panic! At the Disco, now you can own one.
The full line includes:
Duo-Sonic, Duo-Sonic HS, Mustang, Mustang 90 and Mustang Bass PJ.
Here are the key features:
- 24″ scale guitar/30″ scale bass
- Single-coil, humbucker, Mustang 90 and PJ pickup configurations
- All models feature 9.5″ radius fingerboards, medium jumbo frets, and modern C shapes
- Many cool new finish/pickguard configurations
- 3-way toggles are used instead of slider switches on Mustangs. Duo-Sonic HS features a coil-split function
- String-through hardtail bridges
Take a look at the Fender Offset Mustang and Mustang 90s
Check out the video tour of the Fender Offset Mustang 90 model below and then stop in to your nearest Willis Music to play and own your very own!
Take a look at the Fender Offset Duo-Sonic and Duo-Sonic HS Models
Check out the video tour of the Fender Offset Duo sonic HS model below and then stop in to your nearest Willis Music to play and own your very own!
Take a look at the Fender Offset Mustang Bass PJ Models
Check out the video tour of the Fender Offset Mustang Bass PJ model below and then stop in to your nearest Willis Music to play and own your very own!
Can’t make it into the store or we don’t have one close to you? No problem take a look at our online store and purchase the one you have had your eye on today! Click here to see our entire Fender Offset stock.
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.
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.
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
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.
Does your child have a musical talent that you brag about every chance you get? Great! Enter them into our Kids Got Talent Facebook contest!
Here are the contest guidelines (the boring stuff!):
- How to enter: Take a video of your child showing their music skills and then submit it at facebook.com/WillisMusicCompany. Make sure to take the video sideways!
- How to win: Now we get to the good stuff! The Video with the most “Likes” is the winner and that child will get a $50 Willis Music gift card!
- Where: facebook.com/WillisMusicCompany
- When: November 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015 at 8 AM
- Who: Anyone between the ages 0-18!
In the event of a tie the $50 will be split between all winners.
Here are some of the awesome entries from last years contest if you need some ideas!
Here is one of our winners Cooper, age 7.
This was our other winner Joseph, age 15.
This is Hattie, age 7 1/2 playing cripple creek.
As you can see we had some truly talented kids enter the contest last year. We can’t wait to see your kid’s musical talent. Get that phone out and start recording!
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.
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.
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.
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,
Thank you Takayuki for sharing all the great things happening with Willis publications in Japan.
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.
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.
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
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
I think we all remember that old Staples commercial showing parents gliding through the store on a shopping cart while the song, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” played and the kids look as though their best friend just moved away. “Well, it’s back!”, or at least it’s on it’s way, “Back To School will be here soon”! ?As you start to look for those back to school cloths, shoes, backpacks, paper and pencils, remember your child’s music supplies.
Willis and Moeller have all your band and general music supplies in their stores and they are ready for the season. Items like reeds at 30% off and recorders at $4.99. You can’t beat these deals anywhere! ? Oh, and don’t forget your marching band student. We have lyres, folios and plenty of drum heads! Just remember, even if you have everything you need we are here to support you and your child. Whether your child is a beginning band student, their first time on the field or going for their Music Ed degree, let us know when we can help along the way.
I hope everyone has a great 2015/2016 school year.
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!”
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,
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.
- Kentucky is 23%
- 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.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Nashville for the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Summer Conference. While there, I had the awesome opportunity to visit the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman Auditorium is the original Grand Ole Opry. What an experience of great music and history.
The Ryman Auditorium is located right in the middle of Nashville, where you can get great barbeque and great music in every 20 steps or so. If you have never been to the Ryman, it is an experience. You might never guess that this building is an amazing concert hall, because it is a repurposed church built in 1892 as The Union Gospel Tabernacle. It seats 6000 after the Confederate Gallery balcony was completed in 1897 for the Confederate Veterans Association. Every seat in the Ryman is still an original pew installed by The Indiana Church Finishing Company. So if you are going to a concert, you may want to take something soft to sit on or purchase a Ryman seat cushion on your way in.
The Ryman has had many speakers, such as Teddy Rossevelt, Helen Keller, and Charlie Chapman. Harry Houdini and Will Rogers have also performed at the Ryman. The Grand Ole Opry officially moved to the Ryman in 1943.
The concert I attended was Hot Rize and the Gibson Brothers. I have to say after walking in I was like a child in a daze on Christmas morning, because I knew I was going to see and feel something special. It was almost like sensory overload. The Gibson Brothers performed first and when the sound came on it was like, WOW. The sound was so smooth and clear. I could here every note of every instrument as clear as sitting in my living room. I know The Gibson Brothers are a great traditional Bluegrass band but there is something magical about the sound in the Ryman. It’s almost like it has a soul of its own.
During intermission I got up and walked around and found my way up to the stage and looked around at the sound equipment (Kind of geeky that way) and when I turned around and looked back at the pews I couldn’t imagine what the artist emotions were like because of how I felt as an audience member.
The other great thing about the Ryman is everyone in the audience is happy and just as overwhelmed as you are. I met an awesome man from Canada that wore an American Flag bandanna on his belt loop. This was his second time to the Ryman this year. He had to come back and bring his son because of the first experience he had with his wife. If that doesn’t explain the magic, what does?
Hot Rize was the second band that played. They also had a great sound and are great musicians. They are not a traditional Bluegrass Band, but nonetheless unbelievable and a joy to listen to and watch.
What I noticed from both bands was they were so honored to play in the same place their role models had played. They were just as taken in by the nostalgia as I was, which drew me in to be part of the show rather than just an audience member watching a show. I think the music could have been less than amazing and I still would have had an unbelievable time.
If you have a chance to go to Nashville, make The Ryman Auditorium a must stop. Take in a little music history and feel the power. Words of telling someone can not explain the feeling.
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.
Do you remember the movie “Big”? How about this scene from the movie?
We have our very own big piano to play now in Downtown Cincinnati! We thought “well, we are a music
company and piano music is kind of our thing so why not get a couple of our awesome employees and take a field trip downtown. So that is what we did. We took our marketing employee Laura Barrowman, Store manager Denise Burkhardt, Band rep Michelle VanSickle, the Education Coordinator Colleen Cranley, and Rob Mulhauser. When we arrived, Smale Park was crawling with families enjoying a nice warm day outside! Kids were pretty excited about jumping all over the piano, making their own form of music.
Once we saw an opportunity, Willis employees took over the piano! What did we play? Well, Soft Kitty of course. If you didn’t know this is an original Willis Music Publication. You can read all about it in President Kevin Cranley’s blog here. It took us a few practice runs to get the keys down since it is such a large piano and we had so many of us playing at one time. Once we got it down it sounded pretty awesome! After a few minutes, kids and parents started coming over and playing with us. It was pretty cool getting to teach kids the right keys to step on and see their faces as they helped us play a whole song. They were so excited!
We also decided to play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in honor or the MLB All-Star game being right here in our hometown this summer. That one took a little more practice and coordination! You can check out our mad skills in the video! We got a pretty good audience as we played. We even got some claps…or that could have been for Rob’s ballerina moves (We are going to start calling him ‘twinkle toes’)! Either way, it was a blast.
If you haven’t made your way to Smale Park yet you need to check out this piano! Your kids will love it! It is awesome that Cincinnati has installed something like this for the public to use whenever they want. It is great that kids can be exposed to music at an early age. But it isn’t only fun for the kids. Take it from us–we had a great time getting to act like kids again. Here is the video of us playing.
Taking it “On The Road”
Walton Verona High School, under the direction of Mr. Chris Miller, started a Percussion Ensemble Program in 2012. It is a class made up of percussionists and wind players from the Walton-Verona High School Band. This year the Ensemble was the featured group at the very famous “Day of Percussion” at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.
They participated in a variety of percussion workshops in the morning, including several with renowned percussionist and composer Nathan Daughtrey. Their afternoon performance included Detour by Brian Blume and Millennium by Chris Brooks. A very special thanks goes out to Chris Miller for allowing us to share his successes with everyone.
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.
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!
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.
Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur, Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr! purr! purr!
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.
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!
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