As we celebrate the 117 year history of The Willis Music Company some of our newer team members asked how I thought we thrived for so long. We have been through 2 world wars, the Great Depression and many other challenges along the way. The best answer I could come up with was that our core value has always remained the same. Music Education has always been what has driven our actions and priorities. But you may ask how does that effect our longevity? I believe that when your survival as a business is seated in something that is so intrinsically good for people and society your job becomes much easier. We are providing music and instruments that feed a person’s soul and allows them to express themselves freely and completely.
I feel so fortunate that Mr. Willis and then my Grandfather and my Father keep music education so central to our mission. My Grandfather John J. Cranley, built an international music publishing business that continues to educate children and adults all over this world. With names like John Thompson, Edna Mae Burnam and William Gillock my Grandfather established a music curriculum that has literally introduced the magic of music to over 100 million people. In addition to our publications, we continue to focus on education today through our 5 retail locations in 3 main ways. First, each of our stores offer private lessons by some of the best teachers in our region. From piano to guitar and every other instrument imaginable we will venture to find the right teacher for each student. Secondly we have a team of specialists who visit with schools and universities on a daily basis. From servicing school bands where children are introduced to music to providing concert grand pianos to university music programs we will do whatever it takes to make sure that students everywhere are playing on the best possible instruments available. And finally for all the musicians out there who just want a place where they can talk about their passion for music with neighbors who have made a career of helping others integrate music into their lives we offer the finest products at the best value through our retail stores. In addition to our stores for the convenience of all our customers we offer an online experience that features the products they expect with convenient shipping or instore pickup.
So that’s where we are today after 117 years. But why is music so important? Many of you are intimately aware of the value of music education and others are just beginning to learn. At Willis we know the value of music education because we live it daily, but below is a video that I think does a great job of explaining just how music benefits the brain. But keep in mind the brain and our intellectual development is only part of the benefit. I believe the social and personal development benefits are equally as important. Last night I was honored to present the Support Music Merit Award from the NAMM Foundation to Walton Verona High School and its director, Chris Miller. Nationwide there are only 118 schools that received this award in 2016 and Walton Verona High School is one of only 3 in the state of Kentucky. Congratulations to Chris and his team. The award was presented at their Spring Concert. I stayed after the concert and spoke to students and their parents. The poise and self-confidence these young adults exude is amazing. These students who have worked so hard together, developed friendships and used that growing self-confidence to perform on stage and before hundreds of people are receiving the tools they need to succeed and prosper in life. So often, our society measures success by money and prestige but at Willis we believe success in life is measured by the positive impact we have on others. Quite simply, participation in music leads to a more fulfilling life.
After 117 years, all of us at Willis Music wish you an enriched life through music.