Oral History -

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Jimmy Mays performed rock and country music for over 30 years. Along the way he kept his day job, working at Bill Higgins Music from nearly the beginning. Some 40 years later Jimmy stands next to the owners, Nancy and Bill Higgins, to serve their customers, each and every day. As Jimmy put it “This is the best business for me.

Gil Marschner had several key positions in the music products industry beginning in the 1950s and into the 1980s. Best known as G.

Martha Markowitz married her knight-in-shining-armor right after World War II. She soon helped him run the small organ company he started before the war. The Allen Organ Company has been a pioneering business in church organs and in digital technology for many decades. Although Jerome has passed away in 1991, the legacy of his innovations remain.

Harvey Levy is the bow-tie wearing spokesman and brother of the founder of Levy – the world’s leading maker of guitar straps. Harvey has become synonymous with creating and designing products, and he has also been a long time supporter of music and music advocacy. Mr.

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.