Browsing Tag

Christian music


Veterans Day 2012

November 8, 2012

Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

  • On November 11, 1918, the fighting for World War I actually stopped on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month bringing an end to what was called “The War to End All Wars.”
  • World War I, known as at the time as “The Great War,” officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
  • In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
  • On June 4, 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution.
  • Another act, approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November a legal holiday.  This was to be a day dedicated to world peace and to be known as Armistice Day.
  • As World War II and then the Korean War followed, on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars, now known as Veterans Day.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation on October 8, 1954.
  • The Uniform Holiday Bill, which was intended to give federal employees several three-day weekends, was signed on June 28, 1968, moving the observance of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.
  • On September 25, 1971, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law returning the annual observance of Veterans Day to November 11, beginning in 1978.

As the son of a World War II Army veteran, I am extremely proud of my father, and all veterans, for the sacrifices he endured.  To this day, he presents inspiring programs and musical concerts to his community, constantly stressing the importance of this day and this great country.

On behalf of the entire J.W. Pepper family, we thank all veterans for your sacrifice and dedication to this great country.  If you encounter a veteran or an individual currently serving in the military, please take a moment to thank them for everything they have done – or are currently doing – to ensure future freedoms for us all.

Read more about the history of Veterans Day, from The Department of Veteran Affairs.


Pass the Pepper, Please

October 23, 2012

Are you a music teacher or director?  If so, would you “Like” to win a $1,000 Pepper Gift Card?

Simple enough, right?  Actually, it is!

Through May 1, 2013, we are running a sweepstakes to win a $1,000 gift card.  All you need to do is visit, “Like” us, and enter our “Pass the Pepper” sweepstakes to win.  That’s it, there really is no catch… and you get information about music, music education and Pepper services as part of the deal!

Actually there is one catch, but it’s a good one.  After you register, we want you to “Pass the Pepper” by sharing this offer with other music directors or teachers in your organization so you have more chances to win!  It really is that easy, honest.  So now please enter and …

The Pepper Difference

Our National Customer Service Center

October 19, 2012

Ever wonder who’s on the other end of your phone call, email, fax, or mail order when you contact J.W. Pepper?  Ever wonder who staffs these areas for 12 ½ hours a day and 10 hours on Saturdays?  We are extremely fortunate to have many dedicated employees with a lot of experience, passion and drive to help you with your music needs.

When the department was created in the fall of 1981, most orders were placed through the mail, which was quickly enhanced by toll-free phone calls.  Now emails and web orders drive a large portion of our business.

The WATS (Wide Area Telephone Service) department years later became Service Assurance, which placed a stronger emphasis on customer service.  The current name, Customer Service Representatives (better known as CSR), handles all different types of customer orders, issues, and details.  No matter what the name, the focus has always remained the same:  to provide the best customer service experience possible.

Our staff members come into the department with solid musical education, music experience or customer service backgrounds.  With thirty-two people split between our Paoli, Pennsylvania and Grand Rapids, Michigan offices, we collectively have just shy of 300 total years’ worth of experience!  It takes eleven shifts and sixteen lunch periods to maximize their available time for customers.  At peak times of the year, employees from our national headquarters and Regional Marketing Centers provide additional support to manage the spikes in customer contact volume.

When you need us, we are available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time at 1-800-345-6296.  However, reaching us 24/7 through,, voicemail or by fax at 1-800-260-1482 are always additional options.

In addition to total customer coverage, the department handles many different tasks, all relating to customer service.  We interface with customers through phone calls, mail, fax, voicemail, emails, web orders, technical support, library orders, Wingert-Jones Publishing and our latest venture,

So the next time you contact us, we hope this gives you a better picture of the diverse demands our customer service representatives are prepared to handle, all in the interest of serving you, our customer.



A Worship Event

October 9, 2012

A Worship EventWhen you work for a cutting-edge company like J.W. Pepper, you sometimes have to find new ways to reinvent the wheel.  We found ourselves thinking of this as we were planning a sacred event called Christmas in July.  We invited three of the best composers in the country:  Joe Martin, Randy Vader and Pepper Choplin.  Their music is featured on our website, including brand-new musicals with full-length sound and scores on our New Musicals for Christmas page.  We also feature reading sessions of their latest works on YouTube, so we knew this day needed to be different – special.

As we planned for the event, we thought about the sacred clinic and what it has become over the years – clinical.  Webster’s dictionary says that “clinic” means “the diagnosis and treatment of specific problems.”  So, our goal became to take the “clinical” out of the event and make it more of a worship experience with our clinicians.

The day was hot – in the high 90s in Georgia – but inside, there was Christmas in the air.  The choir was dressed in their concert attire as the congregation opened with “Silent Night” while the flickering lights twinkled merrily on the tree.  Randy took us on a trip to Bethlehem where we journeyed with Mary and Joseph, and saw the star shining so bright.  Joe astounded us with his talents on the piano and Pepper brought down the house with laughter.  We had a wonderful meal together, sang carols in madrigal style, and listened in wonder once again to the story which never grows old, of the child who came to earth on that Christmas so long, long ago.

Instead of a “clinic” we had an event – an experience which those who attended will not soon forget.  This was not just about the music, but about what the music brings to you when it is performed.  For music is nothing more than notes on a page until it is heard – but once it is heard, it touches your heart and touches every emotion.  Like the Psalms, it brings about worship.  This is the future of the sacred reading session – a worship event!


Click for Christmas musicals by Joseph MartinRandy Vader and Pepper Choplin.


Meet Pepper: Indiana

September 21, 2012

J.W. Pepper acquired the print music division of Paige’s Music in April of 1990.  Incidentally, both companies were established in the 1870s and have been family owned throughout their history.  We were the first “satellite” Pepper location connected to an instrument dealer and are still located in the Paige’s building where customers have access to instruments, repairs and accessories as well as print music.  This is also the only Pepper location where the host dealer’s district managers deliver our product to our mutual customers.

Russ Bullis, Vice President and Regional Marketing Manager, has been in the print music business since 1980.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree and taught band in southern Illinois for six years.  He began working in the music industry in March of 1980 at Paige’s Music and became active in the Retail Print Music Dealers Association, serving as its president in 1988.  When Pepper acquired the print music division of Paige’s in 1990, Russ and his wife Betsy were hired to launch this office.  He currently coordinates many live events locally as well as nationally, such as The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Showchoir Camps of America, the National Association of  Pastoral Musicians Convention and the Conn-Selmer Institute.

Pepper Indiana Staff

The Indianapolis staff consists of four other employees.  Betsy Bullis started with Paige’s Music in 1981 and was a school choral music teacher before working in music retail.  She taught private voice and piano for 30 years while working part-time at Pepper.  Now a full-time Pepper employee, she remains active in the music community, singing in church and doing community theatre.

Debbie Gallagher has been with Pepper since June of 2001.  She is a former elementary school teacher and serves as our local credit expert.  She is a flutist and singer, currently singing with her church choir and the extension chorus, Melody Makers.

Heather Pechin holds a degree in Music Business from Indiana State University and came to Pepper through the internship program with ISU.  She loves singing karaoke and directs her church choir as well as the Indy Adult Show Choir.  Heather is our show choir expert and is actively involved in our participation in Showchoir Camps of America every summer in Illinois and Ohio.

Janice Smith didn’t have a music background when she came to us in 2000, but you would never know it.  She has learned a great deal about our product and our customers appreciate her open, friendly attitude toward customer service.

Our store provides a home for many customers to visit with us;  we occasionally host up to 100 customers on a Saturday!  We know many of them by name and they often spend hours perusing our reference center and browsing through our bins of music.  We sometimes host group meetings in our store, providing coffee, doughnuts and a place to listen to and read through new music.  Outside of the office, we attend many live events in the states of Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Visit Pepper Indiana’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.



Live Music – It’s Something Special

September 18, 2012

Whether it’s the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, club bands, a college recital or Pat Metheny, live music is special.  Unfortunately, it’s also somewhat taken for granted in an era and generation where just about everything is digital, recorded, synced, uploaded, downloaded, or streamed over various sources.  We tend to forget how important, and refreshing, music is live.

Since this spring, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have experienced live music more than the norm — as an audience member, performer, and even as a music adjudicator.  I’ve seen my fair share of live music this season!

My niece’s middle school musical was entertaining and fun, as were the several high school jazz band festivals I attended.  Seeing my daughter’s college choir concert and musical production of Chicago, along with my nephew’s Rock and Roll Camp band were both positive personal experiences.  As a percussionist, attending Drum Corps International championships and witnessing the musical pageantry of thousands of young performers was very rewarding.

I not only had the chance to listen to a wide array of music, but I spent some of my summer performing as well.  The community concert band I perform with played several concerts in parks and retirement communities.

The opportunity to adjudicate other performers provides a unique listening experience.  For me this included traveling to judge many indoor percussion events with the Drum Corps Associates summer season, including judging DCA championships.  Every time, this is always a fresh, fun and entertaining experience.

I’ve truly enjoyed the diverse areas of live music I encountered this year.  While your musical involvement is most likely different than mine, no matter what format of music you witness, the experience is always special!

If you have not seen music live in awhile, get out from behind the electronics and go see a musical performance.  You will be amazed with the performers and enriched by the experience.  By attending a concert or competition, you also support musicians and performers who play an important part in our society, our education and our culture.


Meet Pepper: Pennsylvania

August 14, 2012

Greetings from Paoli, Pennsylvania!  If you’re thinking “Where the heck is Paoli?”, we’re about 25 miles west of Philadelphia and 25 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware.  We are a Regional Marketing Center housed in the J.W. Pepper corporate headquarters.  We benefit from the added musical talents and expertise of many corporate employees with whom we exchange thoughts and ideas.

What truly makes our job rewarding is the diverse group of musicians that visit us.  Recent college graduates come to browse music alongside loyal customers who have been coming here for years.  They’re the old pros, the ones who used to shop in the original Pepper store that was located in downtown Philadelphia.  Some remember the location in Valley Forge on Trooper Road.  And others recall when we moved to our current location and installed a conveyor belt almost the entire length of the building!

It’s nice to see composers and customers come together as we host various events and workshops here in the store every so often.  Many district music departments spend their in-service days meeting, researching and shopping in our reference center.  We also offer a presentation about copyright that many groups find informative.  If it is the first time they’ve been here, we enjoy showing them our collection of antique instruments made by J.W. Pepper earlier in the company’s history. Whether it’s a group or an individual, a first-time or returning customer, we welcome anyone to visit and spend time with us.

We have a staff of five, with years of experience and diverse musical backgrounds, that will greet you in the Pennsylvania Regional Marketing Center.  Hans van Mol is newest amongst our ranks, coming to us in 2011.  Hans attended West Chester University, just down the road, as a music education major.  He plays clarinet and has sung in choirs.  In the fall he is on the staff of a high school marching band and he enjoys following politics.  Clara Thorne and Jason Nackord joined the Pepper team in 2005.  Clara studied music and holds two degrees in vocal performance.  She sings professionally and also enjoys community choirs.  Jason splits his free time between drumming and karate.  His family owns and operates a local karate school where Jason, who has studied the martial art for almost his whole life, teaches kids’ classes.  Celebrating 30 years with Pepper, George Class is the company historian and enjoys sharing memories with our customers.  George is a seasoned percussionist and plays with church and community groups.  The glue that holds  us together is our branch manager, Denise Collins.  A transplant from the Midwest, Denise has been involved in instrumental and vocal music for years both as a performing jazz musician and as a school music teacher prior to coming to work for Pepper.  During her 10 years with Pepper, she’s held positions as Operations Manager in our Chicago branch and Accounts Receivable Manager in the corporate office.  In her free time, Denise is active in her church music ministry and takes care of two Himalayan kittens.

There’s a lot of territory to cover (12 mid-Atlantic and New England states!) and many people to get to know.  The five of us work well together as we learn and try new things to better serve our customers.  Come visit us! We look forward to seeing you!

Visit Pepper Pennsylvania’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.

Pepper Live

The Benefits of Attending a Live Reading Session

August 1, 2012

All is poised for the arrival of session attendees

On July 23, 2012, J.W. Pepper hosted Summer Sing, a choral music reading session in the company’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania.  While reading sessions are a standard practice for Pepper, inviting musicians into the corporate location for such an event was a first, and as the hundred-plus attendees of the sessions will attest, a great success.

With all the on-line media options available to directors in order to preview music, some might question the value of attending a live event over simply searching and listening via the internet.  So what do attendees and organizers see as the benefits of attending a live reading session, as opposed to listening to recordings at home, church, or school?

Live Events Display a Clinician’s Perspective

Individuals who deliver the content of live reading sessions are typically composers and performers in the genre of music they are presenting, and hearing the live input of these experts in their field proves a valuable resource to session attendees.  Clinicians at the Pennsylvania Summer Sing offered attendees not only a look at a vast array of new pieces for school and church use, but also offered their suggestions on the application of the pieces they presented—whether songs would be good for graduation, advent, or competition, for example.  Lloyd Larson, who presented materials at the church choral segment, continually referenced the events on the church calendar and related the songs he presented to this ever-present definer of church repertoire.

Additionally, the clinicians at the event also gave pointers on the effective performance of the pieces in the read-through. Clinician Greg Gilpin made specific mention of what sort of expression directors might seek from their performers to increase a song’s effectiveness, or even what sort of props might make a whimsical song more fun for the group and the audience. Such tips can prove a valuable fresh perspective for directors looking for ways to enhance their programs.

In Person, Composers are Real People Too

The sacred music session with clinician Lloyd Larson

The opportunity for personal connection to the individuals behind the names printed on the front of choral octavos provides a real value point to those who attend live reading events.  Most composers of church and academic music have stood in the shoes of the everyday school or church choral director.  They understand the challenges directors face, can sympathize and even joke about those tricky scenarios, and offer a rapport between the music publishing industry and those who depend upon it for repertoire.  A clinician’s dedication to helping teachers and directors provide a quality musical experience to those under their direction resonates deeply with those who attend their sessions.  A feeling of kindred spirit goes a long way in encouraging musicians and reminding them why they do what they do, even when challenges arise.  This kind of personal connection can’t be duplicated by simply shopping alone.

Directors are Still Performers at Heart

While teaching music and seeing students or ensemble members grow and achieve is rewarding in itself, there’s nothing quite like being part of the music.  At a reading session, attendees get an additional level of perspective on the accessibility of a piece by reading and singing it themselves.  And since the attendees of reading sessions tend to be seasoned musicians themselves, directors enjoy the opportunity to sing with a strong and musically attentive ensemble.  Sometimes it’s nice to step back and remember what it’s like to simply be part of the music, rather than being the one responsible for holding it all together.  Sight-reading in a room of a hundred like-minded singers certainly beats humming along with a studio recording.

J.W. Pepper sponsors dozens of reading sessions and events all over the country throughout the year.  Directors who have never attended such a session might consider the benefits attendance could have to their organizations.  After all, music is rarely a solitary endeavor.  How better to appreciate and experience new ideas for an ensemble than in enthusiastic company?

For a full listing of Pepper’s upcoming events, visit, and click on the events calendar link, which you will also find here.  Viewers can also watch recorded sessions of Summer Sing, coming soon to J.W. Pepper’s YouTube channel.


A Legacy of Praise

June 27, 2012

So many things influence who we are.  For many of us, our spiritual lives are surrounded by music.  So much so, they often seem to be distinctly joined together, as two hands folded in prayer.  As children it’s often our first exposure to faith, singing Bible songs and reciting poems.  For composer Joseph Martin, faith and music began a legacy of praise which has become the focus of his career and life.

Foundations of faith and music were deeply planted within Joe from the beginning.  His father, a minister, and his mother, a church pianist, surrounded him with ministry and art.  This started a legacy which Joe himself would later pass on to his children.  “They established my foundations for worship and praise,” he says.

Joe’s passion for music, and love of Lord, led him to a career as a composer.  He is the director of sacred publications for Shawnee Press, a division of Hal Leonard.  In addition, he is also a lyricist, pianist and conductor, most recently taking the podium at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Recently, a beautiful article written by Mr. Martin came across my desk.  I got about halfway through and thought, I’m witnessing testimony.  Joe very eloquently puts into words what so many of us desire for our ministry.  He writes from his heart – truthful, faith-filled accounts of how God is working in his life, through the music he shepards.

We each hope to pass down a legacy in our lives, and in our ministries.  Our ability to share our gifts and give of our talents will enable God’s music to reach generations to come, continuing the legacy of praise.  As Joe says, “it’s sharing that empowers all of our ministries as we attempt to tell the old, old story in a new, new way.”

For the complete article by Joseph Martin, click here.


A Message from Dolly Parton to Church Choirs

January 6, 2012

It’s time to celebrate the wonderful contribution choirs make in churches across the country!

J.W. Pepper is happy to sponsor National Choir Appreciation Sunday and offer here a special message from Dolly Parton to all the musicians who raise their voice in praise.   Share with us on Facebook how you are celebrating this special day in your church.

Enjoy the video!