Oral History -

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Johnny Mandel brought his unique talents as a composer and arranger from jazz clubs to the big screen during a brilliant career that spanned over 60 years! As a songwriter, he spent several years in the 1940s and 50s plugging his songs in the Brill Building in New York which was the hotspot for music publishing at the time.

Abbie Leithold-Gerzema is the co-owner of Leithold Music in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Abbie and her brother also share management duties in the store that their great-grandfather established in 1888. Abbie graduated from Drake University with a music degree in Pipe Organ and Music Business.

Teresa Leithold began teaching music in 1956 and conducted her last lesson just ten days before she passed away at the age of 87 on February 13, 2019. Music was her passion!  While her husband ran the family music store in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Mrs. Leithold created the music lesson program for the store.

Roger Leithold recalled moving into the historic building where Leithold Music is located on Fourth Street in La Crosse, Wisconsin during his NAMM Oral History interview. The building was originally a furniture store created in 1889. When the Leithold's moved their store into the building in 1964 the store was actually older than the building.

Paul Leithold is the fourth generation to run the Leithold Music store, along with his sister Abbie. The La Crosse, Wisconsin-based store was established in 1888 as a piano store and repair shop. Just like his great-grandfather, Paul was trained as a piano tuner and has overseen many elements of the company including the band, orchestra and combo departments. He has created the store’s web site and stayed abreast of technology to uncover new areas of growth for the company.

Russell Kephart enjoyed his years as a band director but found great satisfaction when he opened his own music store and could provide the service he felt band directors were missing. The Iowa-based store expanded over the decades but always remained focused on customer service.

Lynn Kephart worked with her husband Russ to establish the Iowa-based Kephart Music Centers. Her attention to details was the perfect match for accounting, inventory and payroll in the pre-computer age. Her friends spanned the entire industry, retailers and suppliers alike, and she is often thought of fondly for her memorable dinner parties.

Ernie Kenaga was hired by Charlie Bickel at the Selmer Company following the end of his military service during World War II. At the time, 1946, Selmer had 80 employees including factory and office workers. Ernie began his career in the purchasing department and filled several positions before becoming the manager of the customer service department. He retired after serving the company for over 40 years.

Manfred Hibbing is known around the world as one of only a few top experts on RF Studio condenser microphones. He has designed and developed many award-winning innovations in microphone technology and he did it all at Sennheiser in Germany. Proud of his role in the company, he retired in 2005 from Sennheiser. His NAMM Oral History interview was completed on July 14, 2005.

Emerson DeFord may have made more hand-crafted flutes than anyone else. It is a strong statement, but then again he has produced flutes under such brand names as Deford and Emerson since 1952. The years have come and gone and still the master of the flute sat behind his bench hammering and cutting each and every part of the instrument, some 380 parts in all.