On the surface, Ted Brown Music looks like any other music store. Instruments of all kinds hang from the wall, amps are stacked on top of each other, a man sits in the corner playing an acoustic guitar, and an incoherent song echoes in the air from someone trying out an electric piano. There’s a sort of happy chaos to it all that anyone who has a pair of working ears can appreciate. However, it isn’t the selling of instruments that has kept this 86-year-old, six-location, family-operated business going. It is something much more intangible.
“Our advantage is that we care more about the long-standing relationship with musicians,” says Marketing Manager David Guzman. “We’re not just here to sell stuff. It’s not about the transaction. Music is an experience, and we want to share that with as many people as possible.”
For Ted Brown Music, this music experience begins with children. They have distinguished themselves as being the music store that works with school districts across the state and help build local school music programs. “We currently have eight full-time educational services representatives,” says Guzman. “Their primary job is to go out to schools, help with the school music programs, and forge relationships with the band directors and administrations. And we make it easy for families to rent an instrument through us.”
The folks at Ted Brown Music also believe that music isn’t just some extracurricular activity. “Studies show that if your child is enrolled in a school music program,” says Guzman, “then they’re more likely to have better test scores. Their IQs tend to be a little bit higher. Their language development is much improved. It helps with social skills, it helps you learn how to work together, and how to see something to completion.”
Aside from working with schools directly, Ted Brown Music brought music awareness to new levels. They have created their own non-profit organization, Ted Brown Music Outreach, which has given away over 700 instruments to children unable to cover the cost of instrument rentals.
Ted Brown Music also offers programs during the summer to keep kids interested in music. There is the Instrument Exploration Camp, which allows children to explore what each instrument has to offer, prior to picking one out at school. The week-long Take 5 Jazz Improv Camp teaches kids the art of jazz improvisation with the help of local veteran jazz musicians.
There is also an eight-week Live it OutLoud Rock Music Camp, which brings kids 12-18 together to form their own rock bands, teach them how to play and allow them to perform at venues such as Tacoma’s Rialto Theater. “A lot of these kids that were alumni from the program years ago are forming bands here in Tacoma,” says Guzman. “And they’re going out and playing gigs. So I feel like we’re in some small way responsible for a part of the scene here in town.”
Ted Brown Music’s willingness to share experiences with music is not just limited to children. Music lessons for all ages are offered in all six locations from certified musicians. Whether you’re just learning how to pick out chords on a guitar, barely able to eke out “Heart and Soul” on the piano or just want to sing a little better for the church choir, these teachers have you covered on just about any instrument you want to learn. Stop in to your nearest Ted Brown Music for more options or fill out a very simple form online to look into your music lesson options.
For the older generation, Ted Brown Music offers seniors an opportunity to play in an ensemble setting in a band called “The New Horizons Band,” a group that meets every Thursday in the Tacoma store. “Playing a musical instrument is great for seniors because it stimulates motor function,” Guzman explains. “It’s a good means for them to have something to devote themselves to. And The New Horizons Band is great because now they get a chance to get out of the house, they can meet new people. It’s a great excuse for seniors to dust off their old instrument and get back in the game. Plus, it’s great for mental and physical health.”
This is still just the tip of the iceberg for what Ted Brown Music has to offer. There are weekly drum classes, clinics and performances from professionals throughout the year. Be sure to check the calendar so you can find your own personal music experience.
“We think that anybody can have music in their lives,” adds Guzman. “And the reason why we think that’s important is because music has a lot of benefits, and it’s great to see that there’s more research coming out that supports that.”
Ted Brown Music is located at 6228 Tacoma Mall Boulevard in Tacoma. For more information, visit their website or give them a call at 253-272-3211.