GLORY ST . GERMAIN WITH LONG & MCQUADE ’ S BOB KOHL
first thing Sherry said to them was , “ What are you listening to ? Let me see your iPod — let me listen to what you ’ re listening to .” I kind of looked at her and I thought , “ Why are you asking that question ?” She said to me , “ Well , if you ’ re not in tune with what the students want to learn , then you are not going to have that student for very long .” That was a real aha moment for me .
I share this with my educators to say we need to listen to the students — what are they interested in learning ? I think we also need to challenge them , and we need to support them . The biggest thing I see in the industry when teaching teachers is , sometimes , we miss the teacher-student-parent triad . So , when I ’ m registering students for music lessons , I am really registering a triad . It ’ s about communicating with the parents . When parents want to register their child for music , I ask them , “ Why do you want to register your child for music classes ?” The answer is sometimes , “ Well , I quit my music lessons and I wish I wouldn ’ t have .” Then I sometimes hear , “ my music teacher always made me play classical stuff and I didn ’ t like it ,” or “ it was boring ” or “ there was never any fun .”
Going back to the Global Music Teachers Summit , one of the teachers shared with me that when she was in music lessons , the word “ fun ” was never part of a conversation , ever . She said it wasn ’ t until later when she realized that it ’ s okay to say you can have fun . I think it ’ s important to give students the well-rounded music program too , so it ’ s not just about the fun pieces . It ’ s about having fun while learning all the genres of music . If you even look at singers out there , even my daughter , for example , she was in the Gifted Youth Program at the University of Manitoba where she studied classical , she became a jazz pianist , and now she writes for various artists and for film and TV . And so , you ’ ve got to have a big palette of colours when you come into the musician ’ s world .
I think what ’ s important is having conversations and knowing why [ both the student and parent ] want to register . For my students , it ’ s also about a good attitude . If you ’ re going to sign up with me , you ’ re going to be here until you get married and have kids . That ’ s my rule … at least that ’ s my plan !
CMT : In your role as an independent music publisher , what is that ideal relationship you have with print music retailers ? And how can small publishers and dealers support each other ’ s businesses ?
St . Germain : I think the ideal relationship with them is to get to know the print music buyer . For myself , when I became a publisher many years ago , I just decided I would have to be brave ; I would have to pick up the phone and develop relationships with the print buyer . You need to know what is their number-one seller , and who is their customer base ? What is the most popular product that they sell ? That really was the key for me .
I ’ ve got to give a shoutout to [ chief print buyer ] Bob Kohl at Long & McQuade because I learned a lot from him . I think the important thing for publishers is to listen to dealers and ask questions . When I published my first books , I met with Bob Kohl – I ’ ll never forget this – and he said , “ Glory , if your books are half as good as the excitement that you exude , you ’ re going to be a big star ,” and we ’ ve become very , very dear friends for many years .
But one thing Bob said to me was , “ Glory , you need to move the title on the cover of your books .” I didn ’ t know anything , and the title was at the bottom of the book [ cover ] because I just thought it looked good . He said , “ Your book will be lost [ on the display ], so you need to put the title of the book at the top of the page .” He taught me a lot about being a publisher , and I think there ’ s a lot of independents out there that don ’ t realize how important a book cover is , or things like the placement of the barcode and all those little details that make it easy for dealers . If you provide them with everything that they need to easily purchase , ship , and put it on their shelves … they ’ re going to love you . It ’ s when you just say , “ Well , here ’ s my book ,” but you don ’ t give them easy access to how to order and all of that . Those are kind of the barriers . It ’ s also making sure that you ’ re giving them promo material and deals and say , “ Well listen , let ’ s just try it and let ’ s see how this goes .” I think that really is the key factor .
And to answer the second part about how small publishers and dealers can better support each other , one of the things that I love to do are workshops for dealers . It ’ s a win-win . Number one , because I am drawing buyers into the retail store for them , because I ’ m the author and I ’ ve got a great presentation . Educators that come to the event are going to learn more about how to become a successful music theory teacher , and they ’ re going to buy books . So , I think it ’ s important to do that . Another thing that I ’ ve done is that , since we couldn ’ t do live events , is presenting live online webinars . I ’ ve sent the link to retailers , and they ’ ve said , “ Oh , thank you , we ’ re going to send this out and it ’ s going to support teachers .”
I ’ m providing professional development education for my dealers ’ clients , while encouraging teachers to buy from the retailers . So , we ’ re not in competition , we ’ re working in unison , and I think that ’ s an important thing as well .
CMT : Many music products stores operate lessons programs and there is a natural synergy there between the retail and lessons side of the business . But are there ways stores can do a better job of supporting their teachers ? And ways that teachers should better support the store ?
St . Germain : Yes , absolutely . I think music stores and music teachers must remember that they ’ re on the same team – one is there to serve , and one is there to educate . I think the most important aspect in supporting each other is having this open communication and taking time to listen to the message , not just listen to reply …
It ’ s not only between music stores and teachers , but I think the other thing is that there should be a standard set . If you want to run a lesson department , there should be a standard that you aspire to , to build your reputation on . If your teachers are coming
26 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE