“Your local music store.”

Even that phrase can provoke a wide variety of emotions for music educators. Some LOVE their local store, and swear by it and won’t go anywhere else.

Some have been burned, and see no reason whatsoever to even go into their local music store. Why? When you can find everything you need online? And for less?

If you’ve read my bio, you may recall that my first job out of high school was working at a music store. I was very, very fortunate to be hired by Summerhays Music in Murray, UT…arguably one of the biggest and most thriving music stores in the western United States- definitely the one that’s not a chain.

I started that summer working in the credit and collections department, but over the next 6 years I work in sales, rentals, accessories [where for some time I was the department manager], learned a little repair work, and spent time on the road as a service rep to schools in Eastern Utah.

As a career music educator, though, I have seen both sides of the music store equation, and pride myself in being able to utilize what I’ve learned for both the music stores I’ve offered business consulting to, and music educators like myself.

Your relationship with your local music store is one of the most essential relationships you can have, and it should be nurtured.

I’ve witness too many schools being offended and not using their local store…too many stores giving up on helping schools because it doesn’t make them any money…and too many students suffering from both of these attitudes.

So let’s take a moment today and let me convince you why you SHOULD be cultivating your relationship with your local music store…

7. Your Music Store is Full of Resources. Whether you’re trying to figure out if you should buy Rico or Rico Royals for your 2nd year clarinetists, or you need to know the best choice for an affordable yet durable guitar that will sound good, or even how to unstick those horn valves again…your music store is a resource of knowledge as well as goods. Though I will admit, you may on occasion get the less-experienced/seasonal employee who doesn’t know much, there’s always someone there who WILL know, or will do everything they can to find out for you. And when it comes to goods you may need, if they don’t have it in the store, they can get it… and often at a better price than you’ll find online. All you have to do is ask!

6. Your Music Store Supports Your Program. Need a sponsor for your upcoming show? How about an advertiser for your concert program? Need raffle prizes for your next fundraiser? How about folders for your ensemble? Cash donation or letter of support for your next grant? Your music store is there to help! They want their name and logo in front of the people who they really make money off of: your student’s parents. Help them achieve that, and no doubt they’ll help you achieve what you need.

Also, and here’s one that I think a lot of people forget, if you tell them what mouthpieces, reeds, oils, etc, you prefer your students to have, chances are good they’ll make sure they are in stock. No need to order on line and wait- your trumpet students can have that Al Cass TODAY! I even went so far as to ask my music stores to set up the rentals for my students with Vandoren B45 mouthpieces in the clarinets, and Bach 5c for the trumpets. Did they? Yes. Because it made it easy for me to day, “If you get your instrument from _________, it’s going to have everything you need. I even gave them a list of accessories for you to pick up as well.” It makes it easier for the parents (trust me, I have a daughter playing trombone and tuba, and two sons on percussion and recorder, respectively), ensures that the students will have the equipment that will help them succeed, and makes money for the store! It’s a win-win-win.


5. Your Music Store is Part of Your Community. The online dictionary I just pulled up says that “Community” is defined as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.” They understand your needs because they are part of your community. They know the people you know- the parents, the administrators, the other teachers. Which leads us to:

4. Your Music Store ‘Gets It’. They are musicians. In fact, the only people I’ve known to work at a music store that aren’t musicians are the people who handle the contracts, and even they know what all the instruments are! They get that you want the best instruments for the best price that are the best ones to not fall apart by December. They get that you have to know the bid system in your district, and the ins and outs of your purchasing department. They get that you’re #1 priority is to teach music, and if they can help make the other stuff easier, they will. They’ll do whatever they can to support your program because they get the importance of a musical education. They are your biggest advocates.

3. Your Music Store is Flexible. Need to match an online price? They probably can. Need to purchase a bunch of percussion but pay for it over time? Most music stores can finance- even to a school or district. Need someone to come out and help with a try-out night? I’ll bet someone from your music store could help! But you won’t know what they can do if you don’t ask. So if you need something…ask.

2. Your Music Store Pays Taxes. This is another one that I think too many educators overlook. We get so wrapped up in our own budgetary confines that we forget that local businesses pay local taxes- the same taxes that go to fund education! That means if you’re buying stuff online, from out of state, you’re supporting a business that doesn’t financially support your own salary. When those parents are paying for instruments at the local music store, they pay sales tax that goes right back into your community. Support economic development in your city, town, or county and use your local music store.


1. Your Music Store is Your #1 Fan. Seriously. Are you running a fundraiser and want to get the word out? Ask your local music store to send out an invite to their email list, or post it on their social media pages. Want to collect donations for your program- be it money or instruments or anything else- and need a collection point? Your music store can easily facilitate this! They have a vested interest in promoting you and your music program- so let them.

Though I took some of these ideas from THIS blog post [big thanks to Namm.org], I put my “from the view of an educator” twist to it. I hope that this has encouraged you to give your local music store a call, or a visit, or a hug!

For more ideas on how to leverage your relationship with local music stores, download my “5 Hacks for Getting More from Your Local Music Store”. Click the image below….

Not sure where your local music store is, or who is most likely to support your program? Then you need to visit THIS WEBSITE. The National Association of School Music Dealers [NASMD] has some great resources on their site, but more importantly, these are the stores that care enough about school music programs to be members of this national association.

Do you have thoughts, ideas, or an awesome story about YOUR local music store? Comment! [And be sure to add a link to their website as that will help their SEO]. Thanks!

-Elisa ♫