Beating the local drum: Needham Music Store sends out a call for unity
The sound of music has kept Richard Vaughn going for the past 35 years at Needham Music, the downtown store that sells and rents just about any musical instrument and teaches people to play them. Committed to musical education for their community, Needham Music has learned to adapt their traditional teaching methods during the pandemic.
Pre-COVID-19, half of Vaughn’s business came from the instruments students rent across Eastern Massachusetts, but remote learning has changed that formula. Needham Music has 20 music instructors who were teaching anywhere from 300 to 400 students a week, from singing to piano, woodwind and brass instruments, even the accordion, ukulele, and oboe. Now they are teaching remotely, with a few in-person lessons.
Like so many local businesses, Vaughn and his team have taken extra safety precautions like installing plexiglass, hand sanitizer stations, and things like special masks for singers. Because Needham Music is blessed with space, it can fit two pianos in the same room, separated by plexiglass shields.
“Both the student and the teacher each have a piano instead of sharing the same piano,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn is a member of the Massachusetts Retailers Association and was on the first video conference with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito when the Commonwealth was weighing the best way to reopen businesses, so he knows full well how spending locally has an upside for his music businesses.
“You just have to keep beating that drum, no pun intended,” Vaughn said dryly. “Every little bit helps.”
“My hope is next September school is opens normally. That’s my biggest hope,” said Vaughn. “Despite these tough times, I know I’m not alone. Everybody is on the same bandwagon. Everybody.”