Community – a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

by Marcia Stearns, Bookmark Music

Are you active in your community?   Your business community?   Your music community?   Your community of music teachers?  How about schools or churches?  Locally?  Statewide?  Why should you be?  In what capacity?  Only you can answer these as they relate to your music store.

Here are some things we do.

Bookmark Music is involved locally in a number of things.  We do the usual ads in the performance programs for our local schools, community bands, orchestras and choruses.  We donate gift cards to music adjudicators and recital performers (the best idea from a past year).  But we also donate silent auction merchandise for funding drives for art groups, educational groups and other service-oriented non-profits.  Gift cards also go to youth involved in community service.  Our name and contact info is attached to each donation, so people that aren’t necessarily music teachers or music students are seeing our name and logo in varied places.  This gives us a larger, varied presence on a local level without costly advertising for the repetition necessary to get the same exposure.

But wait, there’s more.  Since we exhibit at two state conventions, we donate merchandise to their efforts as well.   One has a “passport” program, where exhibitors are provided stickers for the attendees’ passports (with our contact information on them).  In true RPMDA fashion, we don’t just give out stickers.  We have a meaningful conversation with each attendee, even if it’s only about their school or the weather.  In other words, we make them stop and remember us. The completed passport owners’ names are entered in a drawing for donated prizes held the day before the event ends.  We always get warm personal thanks the next morning – and an opportunity for another contact.  Or someone that didn’t win wants to buy the same item.  Another sale.  These are the fun times.  They’re small, easy things to do.  But what about the other side of community?  When things go wrong; when real help is needed?

We’ve had a number of natural disasters all over the USA this year.  Here in California, we had some of the worst wildfires in our history:

Total acreage burned: The three largest fires in the Wine Country—the Tubbs, Atlas and Nuns—have burned more than 182,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties.

Total number of houses and businesses destroyed: estimated more than 5,700 buildings destroyed or damaged


The Journey’s End mobile home park in Santa Rosa, California, is a scene of devastation, Monday morning Oct. 9, 2017. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)










Thanks to a spark of an idea at a piano clinic, the presenter (Gail Lew), suggested attendees purchase a piece of music for a donation box to help teachers in the Northern California area that had lost everything – their pianos, their music libraries, their entire homes.  This music was delivered to the current president of the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC), who happens to live in northern California and whose home wasn’t destroyed.

Bookmark took this one step further.  Be in their shoes.  What do they need?  With state curriculum testing imminent, we contacted publishers whose materials were used most within MTAC’s syllabus, and put together a suggestion list of materials we thought would be most needed and welcome. We delivered a number of boxes of repertoire to the MTAC president at a benefit concert, while other materials were drop shipped.  She wanted to know who the angel was that anticipated those needs.

I told her:

Alfred Cares Program

David Jahnke, Hal Leonard Corporation

Elaine Rusk, The Royal Conservatory of Music, an imprint Frederick Harris Music

Karl Kjos, Neil A Kjos Music Co

Kyle Hackinson, FJH music Co.

Thank you for assisting one community that needed our help.

That community was not local, but shared common attitudes, interests, and goals with us all.