December 28, 2011

Store aims to help others be better musicians

Steve Shook has a tough time imagining what his life would have been like without playing music.

Steve Shook has a tough time imagining what his life would have been like without playing music.

"I wouldn’t have been in a band. I wouldn’t have met my wife," he said. "It had a big bearing on my path."

Now it has led Shook and his wife, Dianna, to open their own music store, with the goal of helping others become better musicians. The couple opened Music Scene in Andover, where they live, last summer.

Steve Shook said it’s the only music store in Butler County, as well as Wichita east of Rock Road.

"We always thought there needed to be a music store on the east side of (Wichita)," Shook said. "There hasn’t been for the last 15 or 20 years."

Music Scene sells a full range of musical instruments and also puts a big emphasis on lessons, employing a dozen instructors in addition to the Shooks. The instructors teach "everything but bagpipes," Shook said, and collectively have more than 250 years of playing experience.

Shook said his own history convinced him of the importance of private lessons.

When his family moved from New Mexico to Dallas, he suddenly found himself stuck in last chair in the trombone section. His parents enrolled him in private lessons, "and things started clicking from there," he said. "It worked for me. It can quickly change your abilities."

Moving to Wichita after college to work at Boeing, he met the piano-playing Dianna while both were part of a band called Tuxedo Junction. Today he works as chief financial officer for Vermillion Inc. and plays in a band called Cool Blue, while Dianna is a part-time accountant and occasional member of the group.

Shook said he and his wife had been thinking about opening the store for nearly a decade but didn’t have time when their children – now 18, 16 and 11 – were younger. He said he talked to area school band directors, who agreed there was a need for a store in the area.

"I think the schools are doing a great job, but there are so many students per director," Shook said.

Individual lessons cost $80 for four 30-minute lessons per month. The cost is $60 per person for small group lessons.

Shook said the store’s students range in age from 5 to nearly 70. Guitar is the most popular instrument studied, followed by piano and saxophone.

Shook said his own father, still playing the trumpet in church at the age of 79, is a good example of how music "can become a lifelong endeavor."

As for the Shooks’ children, their 18-year-old son plays the trombone and their 11-year-old daughter sings and plays the flute and guitar.

"I think she’s the one that got a good dose of the music genes," Shook said. "We’ll see."

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