As school bands tune up, Music & Arts opens in Greenwich
The gentleman strode with purpose last month into the new Music & Arts store near the top of Greenwich Avenue, announcing his intent to purchase a new Steinway piano.
It was tongue-in-cheek all along — it was a harmonica he was after, and he knew full well about the new Steinway & Sons showroom a few blocks away around the corner — but he might have been able to walk out with a Steinway instrument nevertheless, if not one requiring a moving truck.
As school orchestras and bands limber up for the new academic year, Music & Arts is the newest entrant to the Greenwich scene. It is a familiar name nationally as the largest instrument sales, rental and service chain in the United States as a subsidiary of Guitar Center.
Opening last April at 22 W. Putnam Ave., Music & Arts has no shortage of school band and orchestral instruments in stock, from Steinway sister company Conn-Selmer to any number more from manufacturers like Bach, Giardinelli, P. Mauriat and Yamaha.
The first Music & Arts store was established in 1952 in Bethesda, Maryland, and the company today is a subsidiary of Guitar Center, which has locations in Danbury and Orange. It is the second Music & Arts outlet in southwestern Connecticut, with the company having another location in Fairfield among seven statewide of nearly 200 in all.
“We are a small store with a big backbone,” said Vito Calamito, a Music & Arts educational representative covering Connecticut. “We have shuttles coming from our hubs twice a week — if we don’t have it in-store, we’ll get it for you.”
Music & Arts also carries guitars, drum kits and other instruments more closely associated with Guitar Center. But school instruments are largely its stock in trade, particularly with respect to renting instruments for kids trying out band for the first time who may stick with it for a lifetime — or move on to other interests.
For store associate Charise Turner, the best part of the job is talking with kids about those musical aspirations, whether first-timers, those who on a path toward the first seat in the band or orchestra; or those who are pursuing a career in music.
“A year from now they’ll be coming in and saying, ‘Look what I can do,’” said Charise Turner, manager in the Music & Arts store. “That’s the joy that I get being here every day.”
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman