Canadian Music Trade - August-September 22 - Page 18

Faces

By Michael Raine

MARTIN HERGT

If you ’ re an accordion player in western Canada , you almost certainly know Martin Hergt and his store , Tempo Trend Music , in beautiful Victoria , BC . After all , it ’ s not often you find an MI store , or meet a lifelong music retailer , who specializes in this beloved , idiosyncratic instrument . As well , with all their original competitors now closed , Tempo Trend can proudly call itself the oldest music store on Vancouver Island .

Hergt was literally raised in the MI business and to be an accordion player . His father was a watch maker by trade in his native Germany , but when he immigrated to Canada , it was cheaper to get into the music business than the jewelry business and accordions were his specialty .
Hergt began taking accordion lessons when he was six . “ My mother made sure I did my schoolwork and that I practiced before I could do anything else . I hated playing the accordion until I could play a popular song that my friends could recognize , and which wasn ’ t an old-time waltz or polka ,” he remembers . “ My first paid gig was playing Christmas carols at our local hospital – they paid me $ 100 – and when I realized I could earn money from it , I started to love it .”
In terms of where the business started , Hergt ’ s father represented Bob De Camillis of the Canadian Accordion Institute across Vancouver Island in the early ‘ 60s . “ Then , my father and a few partners went into business , starting the Vancouver Island Accordion School here in Victoria . From the ‘ 60s until the mid- ‘ 70s , he and other teachers travelled and taught accordion across Vancouver Island , from Victoria all the way to the top of our island , even going to small remote locations only accessible via logging roads ,” Hergt explains . “ In 1972 , my father took on four other partners and started Tempo Trend Music Studios . And , while still specializing in accordions , the business branched out to selling and providing instruction on other musical instruments .”
Hergt himself began working in the store as an accordion teacher when he was 15 and has been there ever since . “ One of my most proud teaching memories is that I taught a very young Glen Oerzen who went on to become a captain of the Royal Canadian Airforce Snowbirds team ,” he shares .
By 1977 he was working in the sales department and “ I quickly realized that I was having way too much fun matching instruments to musicians , and so I did not pursue my goal of becoming a chartered accountant , much to my parents ’ chagrin ,” he says . Over the next seven years , Hergt bought out the non-familial partners , becoming co-owner of Tempo Trend alongside his parents .
By the early ‘ 80s , Hergt ’ s parents opted for an early retirement , leaving him with the full responsibility of running the store and music school . “ I started to bring in more modern instruments . I was fascinated with the advancements being made in electronic instruments and secured the Roland dealership in Victoria ,” he recalls . “ At this time their price list was half a page long , and the few other music stores in town at the time were not interested . My alignment with Great West Imports and then with Roland and their president , Mr . Kakehashi , and later with Roland Canada , helped to expand the Tempo Trend footprint on the local music scene .”
As he nears his 50th anniversary in the MI retail business , Hergt looks back with fondness on the many accordion festivals in Canada and the U . S . he ’ s had the pleasure of attending — participating in parades , demonstrating accordions , and displaying his collectible accordions . He also had the unique opportunity to star as an accordion player in the movie Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber starring Jennifer Love Hewitt . But what he is most proud of is simply running a locally owned and operated music store with such a long and proud history .
But of course , he also adds , “ We really need to acknowledge our amazing teachers , sales , and repairs staff — some of whom have been with us for more than 40 years and who continue to be dedicated ambassadors who are at the heart of our Tempo Trend Team !”
But decades in this business also come with its share of challenges . “ There ’ s been business through turbulent times of high interest rates in the early ‘ 80s , creating an online presence and incorporating this into our sales model , [ and the ] greatest challenge
is competition from large platforms where the instrument is just a bar code ,” he says . Nonetheless , the challenges have been worth it , because of the “ satisfaction of helping people get the right instrument for them , and then hearing this sometimes 30 or 40 years later ! Knowing that I have helped make a positive difference in people ’ s lives .”
Away from Tempo Trend , Hergt has spent his life with his wife Caroline since they married in 1984 . “ We started our family in 1987 when our first of three musicians arrived — Quintin , Sheldon , and Gabrielle . Our first musician now has our two grandchildren , Cohen and Stella , who proudly call me oompah !” The family has travelled extensively , “ and many times with an accordion ,” Hergt notes . “ I take an accordion with on most of my travels , and have played accordion where one wouldn ’ t expect one to be played . I have played at Lake Chungará , high in the Chilean Andes , at Matchu Picchu in Peru , along sunny Caribbean shores ( and 70 ft . underneath them ). I also enjoy renovating houses , and am currently converting a Mercedes Sprinter into an RV .”
And now that COVID restrictions are lifted and music events are returning , Hergt is more eager than ever to attend his favourite accordion festivals .
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade .
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