Oral History -

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Jerry White and his brothers all played musical instruments growing up on their family farm in Wisconsin. Their father was a professional musician who played in popular dance bands. Jerry and his wife, Ellen, both became schoolteachers and Jerry continued to play on the side.

Diane Johnson, who was born in Brooklyn, was living on Madison Avenue when she landed a job at Music Merchandise Review (MMR). The magazine’s office was located just around the corner on Lexington Avenue so Diane could walk to work each day. She served as the Office Manager for MMR from 1979 until 1985.

Martin Johnson served as publisher and, at times, editor for Piano Trades Magazine (PTM) from 1959 until 1967. He studied art in school and became editor of the college newspaper, which gave him the idea of seeking a career that combined his two main interests, art and writing.

Joe Abbati is a creative technologist/educator/electronic musician based in Miami. He has been a faculty member in the Music Engineering Technology Program at the highly acclaimed Frost School of Music for more than 20 years. As Director of the Contemporary Media Performance Studio he aspires to create new frontiers in the real-time performance of electronic music.

Shelly Berg is the Dean at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Shelly is perfectly fitted for the position as his passion for the faculty, students and the ever-expanding programs and curriculum the school offers radiates off of him.

Ira Sullivan was just three years old when he pulled his father’s trumpet out from behind the couch and began blowing into it. His father began teaching him how to play and by the time little Ira was five, he was playing in his grandmother’s church. His first professional gig came when he was only 12!

Tim Smith grew up in a very musical family as his father and uncle both wrote and record music. In fact, his uncle, Arthur Smith, wrote two of the most famous instrumentals in modern country music (“Guitar Boogie” and “Dueling Banjos”). Young Tim was playing bass in his uncle's recording studio when he was just a mere 10 years old.

Rey Sanchez is a professor and the Associate Dean for the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami - one of the leading schools for music business programs. This special focus has allowed Rey to build many strong relationships within the music products industry, which has ultimately served to benefit his students.

Jim Progris attended the Berklee School of Music back in 1956 and witnessed firsthand the development of the school’s courses and programs over the years. He returned to the school to teach in 1964 and became Associate Dean in charge of the entire curriculum, which he found very rewarding. Within his own area of study, Jim focused on the art of arranging music.

Aaron Stang, like so many of us in the music industry, clearly remembers a very inspirational moment in the development of his passion for music. As a kid he was visiting Manny’s Music in New York when he met guitar hero George Benson. That special encounter was one of several that convinced Aaron he would be most fulfilled with a career in the music industry.

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