A message from John Keal
When I was growing up, I played the trombone. Some of my best memories are of my buddies in the band and the trouble we used to get into. Nothing serious, just good clean fun---trombone players are always up to something! Pranks notwithstanding, my years in the band gave me an appreciation of the importance of music in the lives of people of all ages, but especially in the lives of children. That’s what prompted me to direct John Keal Music Company toward the school music business back in the 1960’s. Since then, we’ ve worked with the area’s best educators to tailor our services to meet the needs of young musicians, their parents, and their teachers. Even today, one of the things I enjoy most about my job is teaching a new student how to hold the trumpet, or showing a parent what features to look for in a good violin. And it is especially gratifying to watch a student progress from a beginner instrument to a state of the art professional horn.
I know that parents and teachers have an increasingly difficult job. My wife Pat and I have raised five children ourselves and the task has not gotten any easier. Activities like band and orchestra are important ingredients in a healthy childhood, and are often the beginning of a lifelong enjoyment of music. Some of our most loyal customers are now retired and playing in community bands all over the country !
Being in business since 1930, we have seen many changes take place. However, at John Keal Music Company, we know that nothing takes the place of knowledgeable, friendly service. When a new customer comes to our store, I often will take them on what I call " the tour." They have a chance to meet our staff and see our facility, from the showroom and the repair department, to the sales office where Pat has worked with me for over 20 years. Occasionally, we’ll even venture down into the "graveyard;" the final resting place for our inventory that’s past it’s prime (although old instruments never really die; sometimes they turn into lamps and weathervanes !). I hope you’ll enjoy that same "tour" on the following pages. And if you ever find yourself in our neighborhood, stop in to say "hello."
80 years of service
The year was 1930, Herbert Hoover was president, movie goers heard Greta Garbo's deep voice for the first time, ten years of Prohibition had spawned an increase in bootlegging and a young John Keal opened his first music store at 315 Central Ave in Albany N.Y. As a 24 year old musician, my father's beginning ambition was only to teach saxophone in a small, private studio. However, he soon became a source of reeds and other accessories for his fellow musicians. Eventually, this led him to establish contacts with the instrument manufacturers of the day and he became a supplier of band and orchestral instruments as well. Almost accidentally, my father had discovered a local music market, and the increasing demand soon prompted him to put aside his teaching and concentrate his efforts solely on the business of music.
The following years brought rapid growth and a succession of re-locations to accommodate an increasing inventory. In the early 1940's, when the public was dancing to the sounds of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, my father added 78rpm records to his shelves. This proved to be a wise decision a few years later, when our country's involvement in the second World War prompted a halt on instrument production so the metal could go to the war effort. It was during these years that my dad dealt exclusively in the record business. In fact, John Keal Music Co. (then known as John Keal's Modern Music Store), did not return to the instrument business until the 1960's. It was then that I joined the business and my father and I began specializing in school music programs.
It was a time of increasing student enrollment for many local schools and music departments were in dire need of a company that could keep pace with their expanding programs. By offering a reputable package of sales and service, we earned a name as a leader in the area of educational music. In 1976 our name changed to "John Keal Music co., Inc" and nine years later, in 1985, we moved to our present location at 819 Livingston Ave. in Albany N.Y. Although my father has since retired, our staff has increased to meet the demands of a growing business, and my wife Pat and I still work together, encouraging musicians of all ages.
Another important component of our continued professional development is our affiliation with a number of national music organizations. Our participation in the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD), and the Harlu Music Group (HMG), allow us to remain up-to-date on happenings in the music education field.
As our business has grown, we at John Keal Music are proud to have also increased our sponsorship of the capital district's music activities. We provide materials and / or service to the Colonial Council, the Suburban Council, the Empire State Youth Orchestra, and the Colonie Friends of Music. We can be found at many area NYSSMA solo festivals, with one of our repair technicians on hand for free emergency repair work. And during the course of the school year we also host several field trips, providing elementary students with a tour of our facility and a demonstration on instrument care.
We hope to continue with these and other musical endeavors. John Keal Music Co. aspires to remain a family-oriented business, encouraging musical excellence in our schools and doing our best to support the communities that have generously supported us through the decades.