Browsing Tag

Pepper 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.

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.



Meet Pepper: Northern California

October 16, 2012
Hi from the San Francisco Bay Area!  The J.W. Pepper Northern California store is located in sunny Dublin, California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco.  We moved to this spot in the spring of 2008 from our original Fremont location which opened in 2001.
  Pepper Northern California regional marketing center

Our staff has fun working together and that energy translates into a relaxed and happy store environment.  We’ve worked hard to make our store into a valuable resource for the music community, and in the process we’ve made good friends along the way.

Ryan Blauvelt, Regional Marketing Manager, has been with Pepper since 2007.  He has a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance from Long Beach State University.  Ryan loves playing live music gigs, sports, backpacking absurdly long distances, and exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes of San Francisco.

Ashli Montgomery, diehard San Francisco 49ers fan and lover of the outdoors, has a business management degree from San Francisco State and has worked for Pepper for 3½ years.  Recently engaged, she is looking forward to planning a wedding in the upcoming year!

Katie Waters has a degree in applied mathematics from Sacramento State and plays tenor sax in a Dixieland jazz group called the Jelly Jam Jazz Band.  She’s also a counselor at the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Youth Camp where she teaches kids about Dixieland music. 

David Song is our resident choral music expert and has a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Cal State Hayward.  He’s also our graphic design genius, creating impressive signs, postcards and posters for our events.  David’s dog Melo often comes to work and is considered the “office dog.”  


Pepper Northern California staff

Hosting live events, both inside and outside our store, is a large part our fun at work.  We hosted famed composer Frank Ticheli in February 2011 and Dr. Peter Boonshaft in August later that year.  On October 20 we will host Beth Peterson, author of The Music Teacher’s First Year, in a clinic targeted to college music students and new music teachers.  We also host an annual customer appreciation party. This year our outdoor courtyard provided excellent acoustics for our featured entertainment:  a jazz band made up of local high school students!

Working at “the Dublin branch” is a special experience.  Each of us brings unique qualities to the store and this combination of personalities makes a visit efficient and memorable!  We enjoy working on new projects that will result in bringing musicians together to exchange ideas and knowledge.  We are very proud of our store and would love for you to visit!

Visit Pepper NorCal’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.


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.



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.


Music Education? There’s an App For That

February 10, 2012

Pepper customers tend to be pretty tech savvy.  Not a single clinic or convention goes by where we’re not introduced to some new amazing app that a teacher or director is using to make what they do a little bit easier, or at least more fun.  I thought it might be nice to share some of the apps we at Pepper have seen in use in hopes that others will discover something that they, too, can utilize. 

Music Quotes (Brighthouse Labs)  –  Why not begin each rehearsal with some insight and inspiration?  This app comes with a large number of quotes from musicians and authors from all over the world. 

Attendance (David Reed)  –  While not specifically designed for music educators, this incredibly powerful app allows you to track attendance for each day and each class/group.  It is customizable, so in addition to present, tardy, or absent, you can also keep track of when they forget their music or instrument.  Data can also be exported to a CSV file for use in Excel.

Cleartune (bitcount)  –  How about an endorsement from Roseanne Cash?  “My most indispensable app is my guitar tuner, Cleartune.  None of the old visual or analog tuners are as precise.  I’ve even taken it on stage with me!”  This powerful chromatic tuner displays a note wheel and a fine-tuning meter, both of which let you find the right pitch and tune for just about any instrument you can think of. 

Music Dictionary (Hurryforward Ltd.)  –  This app has over 4,000 definitions of terms used, from the four primary languages used in classical music notation:  Italian, Latin, German, and English.  Easy-to-use search option, with the ability to e-mail definitions to students, friends and colleagues.

Instruments in Reach Basic (John Ferland)  –  Perfect for young band and orchestra students, this was created by former band director Daniel Ferland.  Offering a fingering chart for every instrument, this app is great for those moments when you need to verify a fingering or position.

Metron (Sintra Works)  –  A favorite amongst studio teachers, Metron goes beyond the usual single and multiple beat ticks of digital metronomes by offering detailed control over rhythm patterns, tempo settings and time signatures (including complex and compound signatures).

Of course there are scores of other applications available and we’d love to hear which ones you’re using to enhance your curriculum.  Let us know!


Talk for more options

May 10, 2010
Customer Service

Customer Service

We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of being placed into an automated phone system for several minutes before actually reaching a live person.  You often enter a button-pushing maze designed to have the phone system figure out what your issue is, when all you want to do is simply talk to another human.  It’s way too common with businesses these days.  At Pepper, we look at calls a little differently.  We know we all have busy lives, and by no means should contacting your music store be a complicated experience.  We try to answer your call quickly, find the answers to your questions and get your order placed so you can get on with your day.  You don’t have to “listen for more options” unless you want to talk to us about other musical options available to you.  

Just last week, I was talking to a customer where we were trying to make good on a mistake we had made.  (It’s rare, but they do happen.)  It turns out the customer lived nearby our store, so I was able to meet them in person to exchange the music they needed.   I’m not telling you this out of personal pride, but because it indicates the kind of company culture we have here at Pepper.   We have a real passion for customer service, and we really do want to talk to you.  The only number you have to push “for more information” is 1-800-345-6296.


Where music teachers gather

April 5, 2010

Times of crisis have benefits that, although unnoticed at the time, show their value long after things return to “normal.”  As economic suppport of school music programs faces challenges, it is absolutely incredible how music teachers face the future boldy.  I recently attended the Idaho Music Educator Association Conference held in Nampa.  Despite budget problems, music teachers from all over Idaho came together for three days of clinics, sessions and concerts, and a chance to network with colleagues, thought leaders and supporters from the music industry such as Pepper.

For those of you who haven’t attended a music education conference in a while, allow me to share a snapshot of what happens there.   I’ll start with the floor of the convention hall.  While this might look like a self-serving storefront for most companies, it’s so much more than that.  The convention floor is where teachers and industry people connect directly, without barriers.  It’s where teachers have a direct voice in saying what kind of support they need in music publishing, manufacturing, fundraising and many types of music support industries.  In return, vendors have a chance to show what they’ve developed to meet educational needs.  Both parties listen and learn much at this gathering spot, and this interaction shapes future resources being developed to support music education.

We take great pride in the look and design of our convention booth.  It needs to be a conversation-starter, a portable piazza.  My Pepper booth was an indispensable way station where people would stop after attending clinics.  There were brightly colored Teaching Music through Performance books sharing table space with Peter Boonshaft’s famous tomes.  New concert band music occupied the corner and rounding out the display were fingering charts, how-to manuals, and various other books written for and by music teachers.  I particularly liked I Know Sousa, Not Sopranos, a Russell Robinson book that young band directors might need when looking for their first music teacher gig. 

The conference sessions were informative and highly entertaining, with band, choral, and orchestral topics as well as practical offerings for teachers of elementary through high school music.  Henry Leck from Butler University gave two dynamic sessions based on his book and his DVD, Creating Artistry Through Choral Excellence and Creating Artistry Through Movement, respectively.   I was happy to hear positive reviews of  An Orff Ensemble with Caribbean Steel Drums, hosted by Anita Edwards.  It wouldn’t be a music conference without a diverse range of musical flavors!  

The venerable Dr. Peter Boonshaft dropped by on Friday after a day of honor band rehearsals to say hello and sign a few of his books, namely, Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music With Promise.  Peter is a renaissance musical thinker to whom I’d rather just listen and not say a word in response.  He’s the conductor everybody wishes they had as a music major.  His abilities as a storyteller are astounding… it’s no wonder that he is so busy attending conferences around the country!

As the conference wrapped up on Saturday and I was anxious to head home, I couldn’t help but feel tremendous pride for being involved with this event.  Not only did I feel we brought value to the event, but I learned much from the teachers there, and was touched by those who expressed personally their thanks for our company’s support of them.  This IMEA Conference happens once every two years, and I am already looking forward to the next one!

The Pepper Difference

Who is Pepper, really?

February 11, 2010

If there’s one drawback for a company whose customers span the globe, it’s in getting folks to really know you.  After all, what does an elementary class in San Jose know about our hard-working people?  Do they know our classroom music editor in Bismark spends countless hours finding good resources for their teacher, or do they know how accuracy-driven our warehouse workers are with filling their teacher’s order? Probably not.  We hope this post helps you get to know the people at J.W. Pepper just a bit better. 

Pepper is an old company, 134 years old at the time of this post.  While that doesn’t tell the whole story, it does tell a part of it.  If you work here, it’s the kind of company you want to stay with.  You’ll find lots of good people working hard to support musicians everywhere.  We get musicians.  We love musicians.  Many of us are musicians. 

You’d expect to have highly schooled musicians with PhD’s, master’s and undergraduate degrees here so we can understand nuances between one edition and another, and sure, we have lots of people schooled in music. Many in our ranks have hands-on experience as well. Pepper is a small army of school teachers, music directors, church musicians, studio teachers, gigging musicians, singers, and players of all kinds —  all plugged into the world of music.

Every bit as important are our people who just plain love music as a fan or music parent.  As every musician knows, having an audience is very important.

In short, Pepper is made up of folks that conduct the groups, hold the folders and sit behind the music stands. We are also the folks clapping in the audience, singing in the pew, and cheering wildly from the bleachers. 

Those kids in San Jose may never know how much the Pepper crew wants them to love music; a love kindled by interesting music and a great teacher. But, when we see those kids participating in the arts, we know we’ve done our job. We are so very happy to contribute in a small way to passing music on to new generations. That’s what Pepper does. That’s who we are.