Oral History -

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William Brilhart grew up in a house of music. His father, Arnold Brilhart, was the jazz saxophonist who established a mouthpiece and accessories company and introduced innovative products to the music products industry. His mother was a world-renowned harpist who traveled the world and made several well-known recordings. Arnold Brilhart was a sought-after musician in the 1920s and 30s who recorded with a number of jazz and big bands. After he established the Brilhart Mouthpiece Company, Arnold focused on creating a unique line of products.

Robert Brilhart is the eldest of the sons of mouthpiece pioneer Arnold Brilhart. Arnold was a well-known saxophonist in the early days of recorded jazz and throughout the Big Band Era. All the while, Arnold kept making small adjustments to his equipment such as his mouthpieces, mutes, and even simple accessories such as the saxophone neck strap.

Stanley Werbin opened a small guitar shop he named Elderly Instruments on July 5, 1972. The original location was in East Lansing, Michigan and focused on "used instruments".  Within a few years Stan watched the growth and development of the vintage guitar market and provided a repair shop and expert staff to address the needs of this new market.  Stan's store was one of the first retail shops to sell vintage gear through the mail and over the Internet.

Charles Watkins invented the Watkins Copicat, an echo unit introduced in 1958. Mr. Watkins was inspired by the Morino Marini Quartet who made famous the Comi Prima, which contained a special use of repeated phrasings. The Copicat revolutionized the world of music beginning in the United Kingdom, Watkins’ home country, and soon covered the world.

Charles Walter was a pillar in the piano business for nearly 60 years. He was hired by the C.G. Conn Company to work in the piano design department back in 1964. While there he worked under the legendary Dr. Earle Kent, the Director of Research and Engineering. When the company decided to discontinue one of their piano lines, Charles saw an opportunity.

Nelson Varon is the founder of the Nelson Varon Piano and Organ Studios who has enjoyed a long career in the music products industry. During his career in the retail business, which focused on organ and keyboard instruments, Nelson continued to perform for local community groups and churches.

Victor Tibaldeo Sr. loved to talk about the accordion boom of the 1950s, an element that helped establish his music store. The Miami-based store also was one of the country’s most successful organ retailers when that instrument hit its boom in the 1970s.

John Thomas was the lead piano repair man for Werlein’s For Music in New Orleans. The historic music retailer, which opened for business before the Civil War and closed in 2003, had several locations in the south.

Logan Swords has always been passionate about music and about promoting music makers. As a young child he began playing drums and found out first-hand the benefits of music making. When he opened his own music retail shop in Fort Worth, Texas, he found himself in the position of bringing those benefits into the lives of those who walked in his doors.

Lars Seifert was interviewed alongside Karl Pucholt in the oldest building of the CA Seydel & Sons harmonica company in Klingenthal, Germany. The two men headed the team that brought back the company, which in name and innovations had become legendary within the industry.

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