Oral History -

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Robert Beals was just a young man when he first met Chick Evans. The two worked to perfect and promote Mr. Evan’s idea of a synthetic drumhead in the 1950s. Up until that time, drumheads were made from cow skin, which presented several problems. With the skin drumheads, any change in temperature could greatly affect the sound and they would often fade out of tune.

Susan Beacock walked into a shopping mall with her music director husband in 1978 and noticed a small empty shop. He suggested they open a music store with a focus on teaching studios. Susan, without any discussion, agreed. With years of hard work and the challenges of strong competition, the couple was able to keep and expand the store.

Dale Beacock grew up with a love of band music. After college he was hired as a band director and he felt as if his dreams had come true. He worked hard to design methods of teaching that brought out the best in his students, and he always sought ways of improving his bands.

William Bay grew up in the music business and like his father, contributed to the field of music method publications.  Mel Bay was a pioneer in guitar method books, which he designed for players of all levels.  He formed the Mel Bay Music Publishing Company in 1947 outside of St. Louis, MO.  William learned guitar at a young age and began creating his own methods of teaching guitar to others.  Over the years, William took over as president of the company and has authored over 200 publications for the company.

Abe Wollam was a close associate of Bud Reglein. Beginning in the 1940s, Abe worked with Bud at the jj Babbitt Mouthpiece Company out of Elkhart, IN. Abe developed strong engineering skills, which proved to be invaluable as the company grew over the years and required specialized tooling.

Greg Winther’s grandfather opened the Winther Music Company in downtown Boise, Idaho, just before World War II. The near-by streets would soon be covered with competitors, a fact Greg, who took over as president of the store in the 1970s, found to be healthy for business. Greg branched out into sound systems and installations in the 1990s.

Harold Winkler was raised in the music publishing industry.  His father, Max Winkler, worked his way up from stock boy at Carl Fischer to be president of famed Belwin Music Publishing Company in New York.  As a strong supporter of the emerging school music market following World War II, Harold became a founder of NASMD National Association of School Music Dealers.  In 1951 Winkler and his wife, Luverne, formed Harlu Music, a specialized school music retailer that would later venture out into school music publishing.

Don Wilson always enjoyed being around music, as a player, teacher, retailer, and as an award-winning baton twirler. He opened his music store in 1956 with the dream of running his business, raising his family, and staying close to the music he loved. In 2006, he reflected that his dreams did come true.

Greg Way has had a long and successful career in the Canadian music retail industry and has been a strong advocate for music and music making throughout his career. As an owner of St. John’s Music, Greg developed many programs for his customers and played a key role in the company’s store expansion. His understanding of the changing market and the business practices for both Canada and the United States has served the industry well.

Art Van Damme became one of the biggest stars of the 1950s with a 15-minute radio and TV program, a noted role in the NBC orchestra, and many miscellaneous recordings, all-centering on his talents as an accordionist. The accordion seemed an unlikely instrument for producing a star, however during the 1950s, there were more accordion students than piano students.