Since 1929, music lovers have congregated at Taylor’s Music Store and Studios. Twelve year old Unionville-Chadds Ford School District seventh grader Caterina Muravsky is very busy. She finds time to dance 15 hours per week, participates in the school chorus and plays the cello in the middle school orchestra. Caterina hopes to someday perform for a living. She tossed the cello for a year when unhappy with a strict instructor in another state, said her mother, Michele Muravsky. But the seventh grader didn’t give up those dreams. She discovered a new instructor at Taylor’s Music in West Chester. Caterina recently told her proud mother that the cello “speaks” to her. “She’s rejuvenated,” Michele Muravsky said. “And a year without a lesson. I don’t push my kids. She’s just driven.”
Len Doyle owns Taylor’s with his wife Julie. Established in 1929, 31 teachers instruct about 400 students at the music shop. “She’s an example of a high achiever,” he said about Caterina. Doyle then talked about student musicians. “They’re busy and probably pretty successful—the discipline.” I recently walked beneath the huge iconic West Chester piano keyboard on West Gay Street and into the 15,000 square foot facility. I never knew the shop was so large.
Doyle showed me some of more than 3,000 instruments for rent to students in the basement, and upstairs on the third floor, 21 individual practice studios and a recital hall. In between, the shop sells everything from Guitar Strings and Ukuleles to Sheet Music and Pianos. Doyle proudly said that many music shops specialize, while Taylor’s offers a little bit of everything, or what he said is, “beginning to end, a complete package.” “Keeping music alive is so important to being well-rounded,” Doyle said.
I recently sat down to talk about the value of music education for both adults and children with Doyle and longtime instructors Miriam Crivaro (Violin and Viola) and 32-year veteran Taylor’s teacher Mark Oppenlander (Guitar). Crivaro teaches students as young as 3 years old. “I get emotional when it sounds good,” Crivaro said. “They put their whole heart and soul into it.” Doyle talked about student performances. “It might be the only time they get to perform–a time that they’ll share with family–creating memories,” Doyle said. Crivero is proud when students realize, “Oh, I played that.” “I see their accomplishments,” she said. “I see the looks on their faces.” Oppenlander said Taylor’s helps to keep the arts alive. “Music in a supermarket, you don’t hear it,” he said. “Kids are cheapened by it.“ Think of the process. Do it every day. Sometimes it does not come as fast as you want it to. Some people love the process. The goal will be reached through the process. “Students usually do better when they take music. They learn to focus, learn discipline…through reading, performing and practicing.” Music is the universal language and instruction helps to develop relationships with people, music and an instructor,” Doyle said. Many students pass along a love for music, some who never thought they could become creative. “Music allows you to get outside yourself and develop,” Doyle said. “It keeps you in touch.” Crivaro said students often bloom when performing for friends and family during recitals. They often say and think, “I can create something.” Music creates memories. “It’s something that stays with them for their lives—memories they can hold onto years later,” Oppenlander said. “And music enhances other parts of your life.” And what about those young students wielding violins? Crivaro said she sometimes holds her ears, while forcing a smile. “Playing a violin is like nails on a chalk board,” she said with a smile. “I have to be able to show that it’s not nails on a chalkboard.” Still, all those sour notes, practice and lessons often combine to spark a lifelong love for music. Whether math, science or the violin, teaching is all about creating new experiences and using those lessons later in life. “They learn something and they are able to pass it along–the gift of music,” said Crivaro. “And something they thought they could never do—the creative process.” Bill Rettew Jr. is a weekly columnist and lives in Chester County. Although self-taught, he plays air guitar and a mean kazoo. He may be contacted at email@example.com. Photos by Bill Rettew Jr. and Tailor Made Media.