The Alimond Show

Scott Kinney Owner of Shamrock Music

December 12, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Scott Kinney Owner of Shamrock Music
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how a unique shopping experience can completely change your approach to music? We're taking you behind the scenes of an extraordinary music store - Shamrock Music Shoppe. We chat with the owner about the store's inception, its unique design, and its mission to provide a one-stop-shop for musical instruments, lessons, and more, creating an unparalleled experience for music enthusiasts.

We then shift gears to discuss the significance of a holistic approach to music education. We share personal stories and insights about the importance of fostering skills, not just degrees, and the necessity of dedicated practice time and space. Tune in as we navigate the complex journey of learning music, comparing it to the process of climbing Mount Everest - gradual, challenging, but utterly transformative. 

We wrap up this enlightening episode with the fascinating journey of musician turned music store owner, Scott Kinney and his brother Jeff Kinney, author and illustrator of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Hear how their distinct paths intertwine in unexpected ways, leading to a delightful treat for fans. We also share heartwarming narratives of students who have found joy and passion in music, emphasizing the importance of understanding and embracing one's motivations and interests. This episode is a heartening reminder of the power of music and the joy it brings. Don't miss out!

Speaker 1:

This is our third location technically.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

So we started out on 21st Street, yep, and where Be a Kitchen is now. Yeah, that was us for the first five years, 2010 to 2015. And you know, I wanted to have a shop. That was kind of like a one stop shop, because the music stores that I grew up around we're either like all lessons but no retail. We're all retail but no lessons.

Speaker 1:

And it was like we should have both. Right, we're in a couple other things like repair, but the building was beautiful and initially I thought we'd have like a couple lesson rooms that I'd bring my dogs to work, and the lessons took off like a rocket and like Perseville, especially being, like a small town, family oriented. You know, our first. We had two lesson rooms to start and in less than two years we'd outgrown the space like we kept adding lesson rooms and we had, like I think, seven total, and so it was like 2012,. The space around the corner on Main Street became available like an upstairs unit and I think that added five lesson rooms. Nice. So all the way up to 2015,. Somehow we made it work with two locations, you know, a block apart, but, oh my God, the lessons just took off.

Speaker 2:

I'm trying to imagine how do you have lessons, music lessons, right next door? Does it interrupt like like little kid over here banging on the drums? Does it mess with the one playing guitar?

Speaker 1:

Oh, I see I'm glad you asked that question. So a lot of how Shamrock is is a result of my experiences growing up in the Maryland, dc, virginia area music stores and a lot of experiences weren't that great and one of them was when I was third grade, 1975, I took lessons at Oxon Hill Music and I don't think the teacher ever knew my name. Was just like the four o'clock kid right, but the walls were almost paper thin. So the tuba player next door to our drum lessons might as well just said come on in, because there was no sound abatement in their construction. I had no idea at eight years old what that even was. But at Shamrock we built out with a lot of care pretty much sound abated rooms. So if you're playing drums in this room, the room next door, they're not bothered by it. You know, when you walk the halls you'll hear like ambient invigorating sound, but not not noise.

Speaker 2:

Ambient invigorating. I like that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was. It was a really important component and it's funny like the whole thing, like Shamrock, when you walk in it's got a real cool living room kind of vibe to it and that's on purpose too. And we've had retail experts come and tell us like, oh, when you walk in you know you've got these chairs in this couch and this table and that should be like high dollar retail items for sale. I thought they really don't understand Shamrock, because that's where the parents who are paying for the lessons hang out and we want that to be a comfortable experience for them too. And to your question you know, like when I okay the way I can describe music stores in general.

Speaker 1:

First, somebody like me, who's who's attracted to like shiny things, things that move, you know that personality type. We you'd see a carnival off the highway at night, right, you see all the spinning lights and everything. You're like, wow, I want to go see that, I want to go do that. And the closer you get, the more you start going. I don't know if I like this. Like the Ferris wheel is being like shimmed by two, by fours. I don't think I want to get on that and for me, growing up, that's what music stores were like.

Speaker 1:

You walk in, it's just sensory overload, you know. But you'd walk in there and it's like Times Square inside. You know just beeping and somebody's over there playing Eddie Van Halen real loud and somebody else is smashing a symbol to test it out, like 50 times in a row and before you know it I'm just like get me out of here. You know too much sensory overload. So with Shamrock, when you walk in, we have all those instruments and we have rooms that you can go test out that perfect guitar, but it's not bothering the people in the waiting area. So that's all by design and because the parents, most of the time they're the ones driving and paying, paying and driving. So we want them to enjoy it. But yeah, with the, with the construction, we were fortunate. Our landlord is a builder and he really took the time and care with us to make sure that the rooms function, function well and are sound abated. So the experience, you know, people in the drum room sounds like they're at a rock concert, but next door sounds like they're at a guitar concert.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Without intermingling noise yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's got a really cool vibe and really cool buzz when you walk in there. That's what we're after. That's when we always try to deliver.

Speaker 2:

So you told me a little bit about how you wanted it to be different because of when you're growing up and you're over the four o'clock.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Why did you decide to even open a music store?

Speaker 1:

That's a great question.

Speaker 2:

It's my wife's idea.

Speaker 1:

I'll tell you what I mean. So my wife is an educator. She's a fourth grade teacher, rosalie Carter. We lived in Maryland before Virginia but, and we lived in what was called the Agricultural Reserve and it was supposed to be just farmland and you know, we had the 12 foot treehouse. They used to deliver pizza too. It was so big. So when our kids were little, it was the perfect place for them to grow up in the country. But there all of the sprawl was, was nipping at our heels and finally, boom, they overdeveloped Clarksburg, maryland, and it was time for us to go.

Speaker 1:

And I'd heard about Percival and my wife went with the kids and my mother a lot of check it out. And I used to work at Xerox many, many, many years ago, and my boss lived in Percival, but I didn't know anything about it other than there was a company party that we had at a gazebo with a fireplace, which turned out to be Farman's Field, and so really they came to visit while I was working my job at the time. For 10 years I was an offshoot of the container store in Rockville, maryland, so you know people would come in, I'd get their house organized, but I did what they weren't doing, which is go to your house and design and build everything for you. So for 10 years I had a company called Time and Space and I was really good at it. You know, I could.

Speaker 1:

I could organize your whole life in 10 minutes Sounds like a wonderful idea it was great, but you know there's a lot of tools and a lot of heavy lifting and I was kind of beat up for it, so anyway. So my wife came to Percival, almost to like check it off the list, but she says, scott, you got to come check this out. Like well, we hadn't seen when I was working for Xerox was 21st Street, which is the town's original Main Street. Okay, so here you had Magnolia's at the mill tons of people, destination location, you know and Nichols Hardware 100 year old plus store, hardware store and then there are all these empty storefronts or like little antique shops that weren't open even though their hours said they were open.

Speaker 1:

So one day my wife and I were standing in front of this empty storefront and looking at it like wow, there's some magic to this, you know. And there was there used to be a toy store which is like something out of the movies, you know, like giant stuffed giraffes and things like that and stuff you wouldn't really ever buy, but but still really cool. So we're standing in front of this store, across from Nichols, and the sun was starting to dip over what used to be a bike shop, but it looked like something out of Vale, colorado, sorry Vale. And my wife said, scott, you should open a music store just like that. So she's half Irish, half German, and when the German comes out, that's the truth.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And she's always right, you know. So you know, we took a look at this empty storefront, like wow. I was like I don't know if I ever would have thought of that, because I played in bands in the 80s and 90s and back then, before, before, recording was affordable, with digital recording, before the internet, if you're going to like make it as a band, you had to get signed and tour and, and you know, to make it there you had to go play clubs until like three in the morning and then the next day or your living room was full of all your band equipment. So I had tried that, I had done that and I had never thought that making it in music could be or would be like a music store, like a place. And so my wife said, look, besides that, there isn't one here. Scott, think about all those experiences you had growing up like Oxen Hill music and the teacher really never bothered to even know your name. You know, if you had a music store, you wouldn't treat your students like that and the people that you would hire See in music, sometimes in an education, sometimes people feel like you know that they're, they're here and you're there and really what it is is somebody is coming to you seeking knowledge, you know, and maybe they've been hiding under the bed for ten years, afraid to go seeking the knowledge.

Speaker 1:

But I Was always one like that. I asked that question and then feel stupid for having asked that question. And anyway, she was right. I was like you know, yeah, I would hire people. I don't care how many degrees they have. Maybe they don't have a master's degree, but are they a nurturing person? When somebody says what's a pentatonic skill, they don't say you've never heard of a pentatonic skill. You show them. Yeah, show them, because they're asking you're paying you for that knowledge. We have the knowledge anyway. So our slogan here Shemrock music shop. Up here. It says in your heart the song, and that's a very important key to what we did.

Speaker 1:

We do because, even if it's somebody who just like sings in the shower, they might not think that they're worthy or able to learn and and and play music, but they can. Maybe they just haven't been taught correctly. And we get a lot of people who come to us that had, like a really bad experience with piano and when I had the lessons, electronic drums didn't exist, so we had practice pad drum sets and we did what are called rudiments, which are the the basic building blocks for for beats, you know, and we only use the one pad in front of you, which is it would be the snare drum, the red attack, that sounding drum. But then they have these pads for, like the Tom Tom's in the bass drum and then the cymbals, just pads. It sounded like you're hitting wet cardboard, but I never got to hit the other pads. Yeah, and at eight years old, you know, kiss was my first concert when I was 10, in fifth grade. Ac DC was the opening act and nobody had ever heard of them because that was their first time in the United States and I wanted to do that. I thought that was cool. I thought kiss was cool, peter Chris was cool and AC DC was cool.

Speaker 1:

And the thing is the, the most simple beat, the single stroke roll that you do with your hands right, left, right, left. Well, that same beat you can do with your bass drum snare. Drum bass, drum snare. It's the same beat. But what was never taught to me is the why. Right so the why is oh, because you like AC DC. Well, you start playing that beat. That's. Every AC DC song has that kind of a beat in it, right so the the building blocks. It's like tools in your tool chest. You know you got the rudiments for your hands. With the guitar you have chord shapes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and you have scales to play your solos. But you have these things. Those are like the tools in your toolbox because you want to build this cool thing over here like a, like a tree house so big that you get pizza delivery to it. Well, the tree house can be a song, all right, so that AC DC, you should be all night long. That's your tree house that you want to build, and your building blocks are the rudiments and the chords and and these things. So that that's a big thing about shamrock is when we show somebody and we yes, we do know their names. It's very important that we know the parents names too. That the reason we want you to go home and practice this thing for 15, 20 minutes, a little bit, every day, so we can build that really cool thing over here that you really like. That's where, in your heart, a song comes from.

Speaker 2:

I love that how old our kids when they get started in these lessons like.

Speaker 1:

Kids of all ages. We have kids as young as four. Oh well and as young as in their 80s, if you know what I mean.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, beginners of all ages.

Speaker 2:

I love that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and there are some teachers or some places that have like a certain age and that's the cutoff and they won't teach anybody younger than that. Well, I think they deserve a chance to see so what we do. It'll be very easy to just say here, fill out this application and then we'll plug you into this. We don't do that. We give everybody a lessons tour. Even if you have simultaneously I mean a biological twins, there's still different people, and when we do a lessons tour, we show everybody the family, the prospective student around shamrock.

Speaker 1:

During a busy time like the prime time for us is like three day o'clock, you know. So we want we want them to see it and visualize themselves being here, having a really cool experience, so that when we get back to the shamrock table, which is out in the waiting area, we make a deal with them, which is okay, we're gonna give you a great experience, you're gonna learn a lot. Your parents are gonna enjoy this experience too. But we're not we're not at your house to make sure that you're defining the practice time in the practice space two very important things and we help them Figure that out at the table, so that way we know that the practice time is gonna be every day after they finished dinner, you know, like 6 30 to 6 45, and the practice space it's gonna be in the bedroom or the rec room, but we help them define that so it's not a mystery when they get home. And it's a non-negotiable thing too, so that the parents don't have to negotiate every day.

Speaker 1:

Right because that's what happened with me, you know, in third grade. My sister was the organized one and I was more the creative one. I didn't have those natural Skills born into me, so I had to learn it. But when you were just playing a practice path over and over For a whole week yeah it was it was hard to stay motivated, so I Think I tended to look at. The next lesson is Mount Everest. You know, and nobody can go from the bottom of Mount Everest to the top in one climb. You have to go up a little bit to base camp and then the first camp one and back down a base. You know what I mean. So we try to teach them the things that were taught to me, which is you can't, can't, eat an elephant all at the same time.

Speaker 2:

You have to eat, such a gross metaphor, I know put that in there cut.

Speaker 1:

But you have to take baby steps. Yeah you know so, and that's what we try to show them, so that at the end of the tour, yeah.

Speaker 1:

We just had a four-year-old this past week and we made the deal before any papers were signed as okay. But what we're gonna do right now is make sure that we're all in this and and you're gonna shake hands with mom and dad and you're agreeing that you're gonna practice a little bit every day without being reminded, and when they do that, it's the first time they've ever made a big boy or big girl agreement. It's really cool because we don't have to treat them like children. We can treat them like an adults, and I think the parents are impressed that. Wow, he just referred to my son by his first name and, wow, he just shook hands with my son.

Speaker 2:

It's a formal agreement here.

Speaker 1:

It's not for agreement, which is in college, university of Maryland, I studied English, music and psychology, and psychology really fascinated me because I think that's the key to people you know. And so we do that agreement with everybody that comes through shamrock and that way so much is Already understood. And and then from there we use what's called a roadmap approach and I could provide the graphic for that later. But it's not a sprint, it's not a starting line at finish line, it's more like a journey and it's an illustrated map and along that journey you have different milestones happen, small and big. You know, like your first.

Speaker 1:

Your first roadmap goal with stickers that's how we reward them is you know your first song. You know, maybe in the first month you learn the chords to play your first song, so that that gets rewarded. And then maybe down the road is one of our showcases which happened twice a year. Those are a blast. It's an opportunity for people to get up there and show off what they learned, even if it's not perfect yet. Yeah, so we we use stickers and kind of footsteps Towards these goals, so it's always very visual and tangible and I'm excited just listening to this process.

Speaker 2:

I have three kids that I need to sign up for oh my gosh.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, frame in, let's do a tour.

Speaker 2:

Seriously, that seriously so amazing because you are approaching this in a holistic way of Getting the kids on board. Yeah, making it a good experience for the parents, making sure that the kids are are Fully on board at home as well, not?

Speaker 1:

right you know showing up for the absolutely, and you know there's an expression it's okay for it to fail at the table or fail. Fail on paper, yeah, then then in practice, fail in reality, it's not really failure. One of the questions I ask, and I'm not sure I'll give you an example of when it wasn't right with Parents brought in their, their child, probably about five, okay, and he, he just was not interested, you know. So, before we even took the tour, I asked him Okay, so Billy, on a scale of one to ten, tend to be really excited about piano, one to be not excited about piano. What number are you? And he said three, without even hesitating. Yeah, okay. I said okay, well, let's go on a tour, right, and then I'm gonna show them around and Show him some of the, the things that are really exciting. I'll explain in a minute.

Speaker 1:

There's a connection to some celebrity in our, in our family, and at the end of the Tour, where I thought I got him really excited, I said okay, where are you now? What number are you? Now he goes three and a half and he started like pulling. He started pulling the shirt over his head and I said you know, that's okay, because I know the parents wanted so badly for him to to do this, and I said you know what I think? I think maybe he needs to go home, maybe talk about this at the dinner table and see if there's more interest there.

Speaker 1:

But right now he's just not that interested, and Sometimes we'll try to find another instrument that maybe they're more interested in. But he wasn't doing it. And what was really cool was the mom said something like you would be better off just putting money towards Base lessons for the dad. And I said, oh well, let's talk about that, yeah. And all of a sudden it comes out that the dad, who just retired from whatever job he had Wow, now he's got time on his hands and it turned out to be like a latent desire, like he's always wanted to learn bass.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and and he just, for whatever reason, never did or never could. I Said, well, let's focus on you, let's get you learning bass right away. And and then for Billy, okay, you can watch dad enjoy enjoying his experience, and maybe when you're four, you know we're five or whatever. You can come back and talk about that, but that was, that was really cool experience that was only uncovered from I call it peeling back the onion to find the truth or find the, the heart of what's going on here, and so that adult comes in every week and I love seeing him come in because it's like, wow, this was something that you never got to do, you know, and now we're in a position to help you. That's really cool.

Speaker 2:

I love that. Yeah, that's a great, that's a great story to you. Yeah, I mean, I'm now interested to know in two or three years If little Billy ends up right.

Speaker 1:

I want to do that now, yeah well, one thing I said there's a little bit of celebrity connection going on here and it's also this connection is the key to when I decided I'm gonna open Chemrock music shop. So when I was researching the store Once, my wife suggested and I thought, wow. She said, okay, scott, right now You're driving all over the earth doing these estimates and designs for the closet and garage organizer stuff. But she said, um, what if you had a place? You know we're Take the dogs to work and like, how many guitars do you have to sell to pay the rent, like what? It would be nice when they just came to you. And that's exactly what happened.

Speaker 1:

We ended up moving to the into the middle of town and I was able to walk to work, you know. But I was still like 70% confident that I know what kind of people I'd hire. You know, hire people that care and share and all that. But I still never spent the things that I didn't know as well, like, let's say, oboes. You know I didn't know much about oboes, but I do. Well, I mean we need to learn about them so I can learn to rent them and be knowledgeable about that. Well, you can learn a lot of things off Google these days quickly. And on top of that, I would go to the band directors and say, hey, I want open the music store. What would you like to see? What wouldn't you like to see? Help me, help you, that kind of thing, right, yeah, and anyway. So we moved to Perseville in 2009 and that year it was snowing a lot and I was researching the store by going to. Actually, there was a small business development center in in Loudoun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and I took an entrepreneurs course where you would write a business plan and then somebody else who was going into a different type of business would critique it and then you'd, you know, finesse it, which I did. But I Really wanted to know, like, who Perseville was. So, like, if I saw kids with long hair I'd say, hey, what do you think about a music store, right? Or I could talk to those band directors, well anyway. So I remember it was really snowy that that year and I was still researching the store. Now my brother his name is Jeff Kenny and he's my younger brother and he's the author and illustrator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which is worldwide huge, it's, it's.

Speaker 2:

I read that on your social media.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, now that we think about it. So Jeff was always like the quiet one and the doodler and the cartoonist and I was always in bands, you know, trying to like make it in bands and stuff like that. But Jeff, jeff became the star. Like his books are Translated into like 54 different languages and they're on their third Macy's they parade balloon, you know he's made it to pop culture, but anyway.

Speaker 1:

So as he was becoming more and more popular, hollywood came knocking wanting to make movies out of his book and they didn't really realize what they were dealing with with Jeff. Like Jeff really wanted to protect his, his creation, and not have it ruined Like that can happen, you know, if a director kind of takes it in the wrong direction. So Jeff planted his heels and said okay, hollywood, if you want to make a movie, I have to final say over script, character treatment and animated sequences. And they gave it to him. Most of the time they don't do that. They want to write a check and get the author out of the way. But Jeff said I don't, I don't need to make movies Unless it's done with those conditions. So they actually made him executive producer, which is really cool. And so Jeff called me up one day, and At that point, while I was trying to figure out what we were doing, next, five of us in our family, including my mom, we were Jeff's PR operation. Because when, when his book became popular overnight, it was A 45 weeks number one on your time's best seller list. Yeah, he would get a thousand letters a day, you know, in boxes, and Jeff didn't want to trust, like interns, to something as sensitive as that, because he knew that for every 500 letters that were saying what colors your next book cover gonna be, one of those letters would be some kid who's terminally ill. Yeah, and Jeff would actually want to know who that was and go meet them and spend time with them. That's, that's how he is.

Speaker 1:

And so Jeff contacted me. He said alright, scott, they're making, they're gonna make a movie. They've agreed to my conditions and I don't have control over the music in it. However, jeff said you know, hey, when you and Patrick Patrick was my youngest brother when you were in those bands, I thought you had really great songs that you wrote and I'd like you to write some songs that I can pitch to the director and the producers to see if I can get you in. And he said I can't make them do it, but I can get you heard. And I was like, wow, that's all I need. So he said, ok, so the Roderick character. Apparently I inspired the Roderick character a little bit, but, and I could love with that.

Speaker 1:

But so Roderick was in this band called Loaded Diaper and he said in the opening scene, in the opening 20 minutes of the first movie, his Loaded Diaper van is going to come whipping around the corner and crashing into the trash cans and like what is Loaded Diaper listening to inside that van? That's what I want you to write. So I'm like, all right, cool. So I started writing songs and this was just in my basement guest room, you know, in the middle of Perseville, and the first song I wrote sounded like if Nirvana and the police formed a band and they were playing like something from the peanuts, you know, like really catchy but really rock and write. That was my song and so I pitched it. He was the go-between. I pitched it to Jeff and then he presented it to the Hollywood people and the first thing he said was oh, man that rocks, but it's not crappy enough.

Speaker 1:

It's got to be sludgier because it's a little diaper, right, they're like, ok. So I did another song and this time it was more like something Motley Crue would do, you know, and but anyway. So I ended up like sending 10 songs in total and I felt like, ok, I did it. But Jeff said, hey, on that first song, what if he added a guitar line? That was kind of sludgier, and I did, and it actually made a better song. Like he gave it this. It was like an earworm, like once you hear it you can't unhear it, you know, but anyway. So I didn't know what was going to happen.

Speaker 1:

But Jeff and I are known for pranking each other. In fact, the opening scene of the first movie is a prank that I pulled on Jeff, although I didn't trick him into thinking he missed the first day of school. I tricked him into thinking he missed summer vacation and he missed Disney World. He actually fell for it. Sorry, jeff, but anyhow. So Jeff calls me up and he said all right, here's the deal, scott, they're wrapping up the movie. They heard all of your songs. They liked some of them. They didn't go with any of them, but at least I'm going to try to get you some feedback from these Hollywood people. And I said, oh, that's cool, I can live with that, because if I hadn't tried then I would regret it. And so, shortly after we hung up the phone, he calls me back like 10 or 15 minutes later he goes all right, you're not going to believe this and I swear to God, I'm not pranking you, but they did pick one of your songs. And they picked the first song, the one that Jeff thought was too good for the scene or something anyway. But he said and they need it right now, you need to sign off with legal forms and they need the master files of the song. I'll tell you the long story. You can edit it out if you need to. But he goes and I suggest that you don't play hardball, that I'm your brother and the writer and all that. I said, jeff, I just want to see my name spelled right on the credits and hear my song.

Speaker 1:

And so, anyway, I hang up the phone with Jeff and I get a call from the Blue Ridge Middle School pediatrician or the nurse saying, oh, your daughter's fingertips turn blue. You have to take her to the pediatrician. And I'm like, oh, my god, I'll be right over. So I take Paige down to the doctor and her fingertips are blue and it wasn't the first time this has happened, and so the nurse was kind of stumped. She was like, well, are your fingertips numb? And she said no, and then the doctor was a little bit puzzled by it too. And finally the receptionist came in and said, sweetie, are those new blue jeans? And she said yes, and she goes. I sit on my hands when I'm cold. I'm like oh my god, so like a $50 copay.

Speaker 1:

And 90 minutes later I took my daughter back to the school and I get back and I check my email and I didn't realize when Jeff said Fox Legal Department is going to be contacting you. Like there are tons of emails and from the music department needing the master files and signing off on this thing. And it was like 4.30 my time and he said they have to wrap it up today. So like song files aren't something you can just send on Hotmail, you have to sign up for a whole different service. So I'm scrambling to get all these things filled out and the files. And I made it by the skin on my teeth but they plugged it in and when you see the van come whipping around the corner. It's like 16 seconds and it's like the best part of the song. And they don't pay a lot but for the rest of my life, every quarter I get enough money to treat my wife to Magnolia's.

Speaker 1:

But that was the moment. That was the moment where I realized, hey, I recorded, I wrote, recorded this song 100%, all my own thing, in a spare bedroom where I had sheets and towels stapled to the walls. But every time I listened to it it rocks, it really rocks, and it fit the scene. And Jeff said the music supervisor, julia Michaels, who now at this point has Grammy and Oscar awards under her belt, and he said it had to be a good song, it had to fit the scene and she had to like working with you for that to happen.

Speaker 1:

It wasn't just all Jeff influencing. So why am I telling you this? Because that was the moment when I realized my 70% meter of confidence to open a music store. Now it's like, ok, I'm going to do it, because if I hadn't given it a shot with the Wimpy Kid movies and music, I'd be kicking myself forever and I'm like the stuff that I don't know I'll learn and the people that I need to hire so that I can be a better service to my community. I'll hire. But that was the moment. That was the Wimpy Kid connection and that's what inspired me to go for it.

Speaker 2:

I love that story. What an amazing fun story.

Speaker 1:

And then Jeff turns around and where he lives in Plainville, massachusetts, which makes Old Town Perseville look like New York City. That's how old the Crepe in his town was Plainville yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think he likes it. Yeah, you know. So anyway, he would come down to Perseville and he would see the stuff that was going on, like the empty storefront. I told you about that. That turned out to be Relovate Consignment, and so Michael and Kim and myself, after we ended up on 21st Street, we got things going and more businesses started happening and coming to 21st Street. So Michael, kim and me, we were the co-founders of the Halloween Block Party, which is still, I think like 13 or 14 years in existence. It's pretty cool.

Speaker 1:

But Jeff saw what was happening on 21st Street, like this Renaissance and this community building thing where community comes and community gathers, and that's what he wanted to have happen. So his building, which would have been like Nick Nichols' hardware if it had been in ruins for 30 years, was called Falks Market and it was like this old general store from 1850. And it was completely in ruins, like you couldn't salvage it or renovate it. So he and his wife realized that town doesn't have much money or any vision and maybe we have the good fortune where it's our duty, to do something about that. So they turned it in this thing called an unlikely story, which is a masterpiece and they had to bulldoze the original building, but they built this three-story building.

Speaker 2:

Where's the side? It's in Plainville.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, an unlikely story.

Speaker 1:

The name for it is because when Jeff was writing his book, like all these people in the publishing industry turn them down and said, oh, this is lousy, nobody's ever going to read this, especially no boys are ever going to write a diary about boys. Well, they missed the point and it turns out like kids worldwide can identify with the Greg Heffley character. Being an imperfect kid, you know, making mistakes and not always making it right either, you know. But so he built this gorgeous bookstore, the cafe, and on the second story it's like author events and he said, oh my God, he's had, like Matthew McConaughey and Hillary Clinton, he's had a lot of big names and the top story is the Wimpy Kid Studios. So it's a destination and people are starting to visit it from all around. But he was inspired by what he saw happening in Old Town, perseville, and he wanted to make something like that happen there. And now he is. And now there's other cool, you know, businesses starting up around and unlikely stories. So, yeah, the Wimpy Kid Shamrock connection is pretty tight.

Speaker 2:

Looks like your family has a good dynamic, where you guys are always inspiring each other, whether it's with stories, with pranks, with yeah, absolutely yeah, we're an interesting bunch of wing nuts. No, that's great. Okay, so today, shamrock, you guys sell instruments as well. Yes, you got the lessons. How are you currently marketing?

Speaker 1:

Mostly marketing through social media. We use Facebook extensively. It will create posts that will also populate on Instagram, other platforms. But, yeah, print advertising is harder to do, it's expensive, but social media is easier and cheaper and it tends to get people that share your message. So, yeah, a lot of it at this point is word of mouth, where it's really cool that people that will show up for lessons to her like, oh, I know you, or it turns out like the community is there. So, yeah, I think the word is out, now that we're 13 and a half years old, that we're doing good stuff.

Speaker 2:

Congratulations, thank you. Now, in terms of just to kind of wrap it up, are there any other stories or messages or specials or anything that you kind of want to share with the world?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, actually, I remember in your notes to me about what we would talk about. You mentioned success stories. We've had a number of those, some that would make you cry, but I'll tell you one of them, and one of them was in our very first year in business. We had a gentleman come to us for banjo lessons. He really didn't want to learn the banjo per se, but his wife had passed away years before and he had a new girlfriend and she really liked the song tequila. So his mission was he wanted to learn he didn't want to learn the banjo how to play lots of stuff, just how to play tequila on the banjo. And that was it.

Speaker 1:

It was funny because he took a lesson early in the day and if the teacher wavered from tequila or started playing something else, he'd hear him go no tequila, because he wanted to serenade his new girlfriend. And so, anyway, he stayed with us for several months, learned how to play it, and then that was it. You're like, we always want our students to stay longer, but he had a mission and once he achieved his goal he was ready to serenade her. So I hadn't seen him in a while, and one day I was walking down 21st Street and I hung a left to go on to Main Street and there he is walking right towards me holding hands with, I guess, his girlfriend. And so I looked at him and he looked at me and I said, tequila, he goes tequila. And I'm like, oh man, that is so great, but that was a fun thing.

Speaker 1:

Early on, that made me realize, you know, like everybody is different. Some people come to lessons and it's a life changer for them. It becomes part of their quality of life. You know, they've been with us for years and years. Their whole family's been with us for years and years. But every now and then you get one like that, where they have one goal and in this case he achieved it and there he is walking out the street with his girlfriend.

Speaker 2:

That's funny. I'm glad you said tequila, not. Is this the girl that you?

Speaker 1:

just in case it wasn't Well that would have been a blunder, you'd be like?

Speaker 2:

no worries, come see me and we can continue to the next one.

Speaker 1:

That one. I think it all worked out the way it had been planned. Yeah, stuff like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's great. And one last question too is so when people come in for lessons, if they don't have the instrument, do they normally buy it? Or do they because they've got a practice at home?

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Or how does that work?

Speaker 1:

So part of what we offer is that one-stop shop, as I mentioned, is, yes, we do sell instruments, we rent instruments, we do the lessons. Of course, we also do minor repairs and then we have outsourced companies that do more extensive repairs on instruments. But, yeah, if you come to Shamrock, we have something for everybody, whether they buy it or rent it. So that's part of what we do is, when somebody comes to Shamrock for lessons, we want to try them out on some instruments that we've had a lot of success with, so that they don't have to go anywhere else, and they certainly we don't want them to go on the internet and buy things there. Bricks and mortar is very important to communities and we want to make sure that people are being served all the things that they need as much as we can, you know.

Speaker 2:

And what a great holiday gift idea.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. There's somebody that I like that wants to like learn an instrument, or yeah we do a lot of gift cards for people that might sign up for one month of lessons or six months of lessons, you know. But yeah, we have that too.

Speaker 2:

That's great. Anything else you'd like to share? You sound like you have so many great stories that you could probably share.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I could go on for hours. There's one more story I'll share, and this was also early on. My daughter she's in her 20s now. She lives in California now.

Speaker 1:

But when my daughter was young and when we first started, she was in elementary school still and she had taken lots and lots of dance lessons growing up, and of all the dance styles that she took lessons for, the one style she never had was like the Celtic style of dancing and I always really wanted her to do that, or try it at least. But we had somebody coming to us with a daughter who had taken violin somewhere else with some other instructor and for various reasons that didn't go well or it became more of a task than a joy, and unfortunately that happens now and then. Maybe their personalities didn't match, I don't know. But the mother said I want to sign her up for violin with you, but I'm not sure it's going to work. I'm not. She said, well, she's very good at it, she practices as much as she's supposed to. But with the instructor it just felt like there was no joy there and it was kind of sad, like you know. I don't know what happened exactly, but I said, okay, well, let's do a tour and let me see what I can do, and part of what I do on a tour I talked about peeling back the onion to find the truth is, I'm trying to find something that I can zero in on and get the eyes to light up, because when that happens then you know that's the thing, right? So we did the tour and my daughter used to come over to Shamrock. They set up a special bus stop for her, just for her, on 21st Street, so my daughter would come to Shamrock after school and do her homework.

Speaker 1:

So the girl that came in with her mother to do the tour was wearing one of those Celtic dance outfits, like you know, in Riverdance, and so you know I saw this. My daughter made introductions and they seemed like about the same age and for a second I thought, hey, would you mind showing my daughter a quick dance step. So she does. And my daughter's eyes lit up and you know it was like cool. Yeah, I finally got her excited about it because I think she was like hesitant to try something new that she didn't know. She was kind of like that.

Speaker 1:

But that's when the light bulb went on in my head and we had one of our violin instructors, or fiddle, however you want to call it. You know, fiddle is when you're doing more like bluegrass and Americana style, but it's still the same instrument, right? So I said, oh, I have an idea. So you were classically trained playing classical things on the violin. What about Irish music, like you're dancing to? Do you like that kind of music, like reels and jigs? And she said, yeah, I love it. I said, well, why don't we try that?

Speaker 1:

And my teacher, who was warming up for his student, had a little time to kill and I asked him. I said would you mind showing this young lady something either Celtic or bluegrass reel, something like that, and let's just see where it goes? And so we gave her a violin to use for that, that trial lesson, so to speak. And we could see I have double glass doors, we could see like the whole body language and the eyes. Everything just lit up like wow, we cracked the code and that was it.

Speaker 1:

So she was with us for many years and it was just a matter of twisting something or tweaking something and it was OK. She has a passion for this type of music. Let's run in that direction, because there's no wrong music, it's just she's done this and she did well at it, but we want something where she has joy, and this was it, and that cracked the code. So that made me very proud and it was another building block for Shamrock. And taking the time to scratch a little harder to find what is the real motivation, the spark, and once you find that, then there's no stopping you.

Speaker 2:

I love these stories that you have and I love that you apply it to your whole practice and business overall as well, thank you. That's been great. Thank you so much for being on the show and so excited to I'm going to go take a tour with my three kids.

Speaker 1:

You should. Let's sign up right now, let's do it.

Speaker 2:

OK, awesome, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

Open Unique Concept Music Store
The Importance of a Holistic Approach
Moving to Perseville and Making Movies
Inspiration and Pursuing a Dream
Banjo Lessons and Instrument Sales
Discovering Passion for Music