RPMDA – Grateful at Christmas

Bonita Cross, Day Murray Music: Standouts from 2018 at Day Murray Music have been the very successful choral reviews we hold four or five times a year. We are grateful for quality new issue sacred choral anthems to present to our music directors. From small church choirs to large community and school ensembles, the selection this year has been remarkable!



Kevin Cranley, Willis Music: I’m most grateful for 2 things this year. First of all, our youngest daughter Colleen after a very difficulty pregnancy delivered a beautiful baby boy, Grayson. Both are doing well. Next, I continue to be thankful to work in an industry that helps people and society lead more fulfilling lives. At a party last night I sat and listened to neighbors talk about their jobs and how they can’t wait to retire or change jobs. Fortunately, I can’t relate, and I think we can all be thankful for the music we share.


Cristina D’Alessandro, Cosmo Music: 2018 has been an eventful year for me. Being pregnant and having a baby when you’re in the prime of your career can be challenging. I am so grateful to work for a Company, Cosmo Music, that has showed incredible kindness through their continued support and understanding. I believe that the music industry is unique in this way; Everyone always seems to be looking out for one another and ensuring everyones best interests are at heart.



Eric Ebel (left); Christie Smith and Brian Shepard

Eric Ebel, NAMM: This year, more than any in recent memory, has led me to a profound sense of gratitude for the parents that encouraged me, the educators that challenged me, and the colleagues that continue to elevate me. Always urging one another to step into the ‘uncomfortable space’ that is growth. And like so many that have had the privilege to learn music, embedding a lifelong yearning for that personal growth (an antidote for small mindedness), I’m grateful for the opportunity to pay that gift forward for the next generation, in my own small way, as a member of a remarkable community of spectacular music people.


Brian Shephard, MTNA: 2018 and has been a whirlwind of a year with lots of exciting new programs, products and services created and improved for music teachers. I am grateful to our many publisher, dealer and sister association partners for their work to make this the best profession in the world! Cheers to 2019! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season! I’m looking forward to San Diego!

Alan and Beth Friedman

Alan Friedman, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co.: The word “gratitude” came early this year for me, because on January 2nd 2018 I had a stent shoved in my circumflex coronary artery that was unknowingly 95% blocked. So my unending gratitude goes to my brother Bill (a radiologist, who insisted I get “one more test” that my cardiologist thought was unnecessary), my wife Beth who was by my side through the blessed event and has loved & supported me unconditionally for 40 years of marriage, and my cardiac surgeon, Dr. Glen Henry at Yale New Haven Hospital, who said to me as I was wheeled into the cath lab for my stent, “Well, you have a 1% chance of a stroke, a 1% chance of a heart attack, and a 1% chance of dying on the table….sign here”. Yes, gratitude indeed for Beth, Billy & Glen. And, of course, my favorite guitar player, Steve Lukather, because he hasn’t filed a restraining order against me yet..:>)

Johann Gouws, Alfred Music: Coincidentally, being asked to write a few thoughts on gratitude coincided with my family’s tradition of watching Love Actually during the Christmas season. The opening scene of that movie moves me every time – even more so in the current climate we live in. To quote the “Prime Minister”, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there…”. Without getting too soppy, I’ve personally seen this both personally with friends and family coming together through very difficult times, putting all differences aside, to professionally within our close-knit industry where colleagues and competitors support one another equally through fantastic times and when those emails of difficult personal news start circulating. And for this I am thankful! As we wrap up an exciting and at times, challenging, year, let’s continue to appreciate each other as we strive to help the whole world experience the joy of making music!

Betsy Henrichs, Piano Adventures: I am grateful for the opportunity to work in an industry surrounded by talented and passionate artists, composers, and performers. As marketing manager for a book publisher, one of my primary goals is to bring the printed page to life. In 2018, I’m proud to have produced a rich and dynamic video blog series featuring the pedagogy of Nancy and Randall Faber. We have been able to extend our reach and positively impact our educational message far and wide. The outpouring of love and appreciation for the method books, new releases, and variety of supplements never ceases to amaze and inspire. & Co.

David Jahnke, RPMDA’s Most-Humble President and Sr. Vice President National Sales for Hal Leonard: Hi everyone. When Christie Smith (Past RPMDA President and the leader of our Communication Committee) asked for a short few sentences on something we’re grateful for (personally or professionally), my mind drifted for a moment. We have so much to be thankful for that it’s difficult to pick-out one or two things. In last month’s newsletter I wanted to make sure that I thanked the RPMDA Board as well as imply (although it can never be overstated) how thankful I am for the opportunities that Keith, Larry and the team here at HL have given me. HL is truly a unique place filled with diverse talent that’s held together by a common passion for music. I guess I could have stopped there but as I slowly came back from my contemplative haze, one additional thought kept coming to my mind: Texting! I know, you’re probably saying: ”Really DJ? Out of all the things you could have chosen you chose Texting!?!” Yup: Texting. Some of you know that my wife (Tracy) and I are now empty nesters. Spencer is in his Junior year at UW Whitewater and Reece is a Freshman at UW Madison (and loving every minute of it). I wasn’t quite sure how the whole empty nest thing was going to work out seeing that it’s been 21 years since it was just Tracy and me. Fortunately, this is a happy story thanks in part to texting. As we said our goodbyes to the boys after helping each move into their new places back in August, I simply asked each one to text their mom every now and then. They listened and while it was slow at first they’re communicating with Tracy and me more now than they did when they lived under our roof thanks to texting. In this Season of Joy, I encourage you to reach out to an old friend and give them a call or at least, send them a text! Pictured: Reece and Spencer along with two other things I’m very thankful for!

Sigrun Jantzen (center)

Sigrun Jantzen, Henle: This year G. Henle Publishers celebrated their 70th anniversary and were happy to discover that the blue Urtext Editions are more appreciated all over the world than ever.
We are glad to be part of the wonderful RPMDA community and thank Hal Leonard sincerely for promoting and distributing our Editions. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership and to consistently improving the service for our customers and musicians in the US.
See you all again in San Diego.

Jill Jeffers, Jeffers Handbell Supply: As the song goes, “The Long and Winding Road,” it has been a year of challenges and of great highs. For us as a company, individually, we have had our ups and downs, but are seeing a wonderful future ahead of us. We are creating new ways to reach our customers and finding new products that will help make wonderful music. But one of the most significant things that I have seen is the entire music community, no matter the instruments or disciplines (or part of the world), are coming together to keep the love and joy of music as an important part of our life. We have made big steps on our National stage to keep music makers and producers making the music that we love, sharing it with our youth and future music makers. I have met with all peoples that make the music world work and keep it a living, breathing and wonderful thing. It makes me proud to be a part of such a wonderful community. We have been partnering with more music companies and individuals than ever before and the impacts have made a difference. So, to all of you out there, no matter how small a part you may play in the music world, it all matters! I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and joy and success in the new year!

Andrew King, CMT Magazine: Looking back on 2018 reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am, both personally and professionally. I love my family and every minute we get to spend together, learning and playing and creating and growing … Never a dull moment.

Professionally speaking, I love that the music industry unites so many different kinds of people from different places and different backgrounds beneath a single banner. I’ve yet to meet a more passionate group of people — and especially one so keen on sharing that passion with others. This is such a welcoming and supportive industry, and having the almost-daily opportunity to benefit from and contribute to it is a privilege for which I’m grateful each and every day.

Karl Kjos (right)

Karl Kjos, Neil A. Kjost Music Co.: 2018 has been a roller coaster ride! It seems I’ve been busier than ever at work, and with several surprise personal trips over the year, there’s not been a dull moment. Even with the fast pace of this past year, it’s these adventures and experiences with friends, family, and our partners in the industry that I’m most grateful for. Whether it’s been exploring the Twin Cities with new friends, nearly getting stuck in Bismarck during a blizzard, going to wine country with my girlfriend, or mountain biking along the Grand Canyon it’s been memorable and exciting at every turn. I hope 2018 has been a great year for all RPMDAers!


Amy Larkin, West Music:

I am grateful to have survived another year full of running farther and faster than I ever thought I could, making sure my haunted house family is ready to scare the pants off more people than we ever have, and creating stronger bonds amongst colleagues in the print music world. Here’s to bigger and better (and faster) things in 2019!


Tracy Leenman, Musical Innovations: They say, “Good things come in small packages” – our family was blessed this year with the addition of Annie Mei, our 20th granddaughter, adopted by our daughter Joy and her family this past October. Annie turned 4 in early December, has Down Syndrome, and joined Joy and Justin’s three sons (12, 11 and 7) and one other daughter (also 4).

Business-wise we are grateful for another successful year sharing our passion for music. And grateful for our publishers who continue to put out great music for us to sell. The best “small package,” of course, is the greatest Gift of all – the little baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time. We wish everyone a blessed and worshipful Christmas and holiday season!

Reiff Lorenz, Lorenz Corp.: Lorenz Corp. and Word Music had a good year in 2018. With the terrific support from our music dealer partners, and great creativity from our composers, sales grew nicely compared to last year. We’re thankful for all the wonderful people in our industry that make the music business fun, interesting, challenging, and always worthwhile.



Iris Manus, Renee Cunning, Ron Manus

Ron Manus, Alfred Music: I am so grateful to have music in my life.

Music makes everything better! Can you imagine a movie without music, a Broadway show without music, a party, a wedding, a celebration without music? Music means even more to all of us, it provides us with an income and financial support, but more than that music changes lives, it enhances and enriches the lives of all who play it.

Because of ALL of our hard work, be it retailers, manufacturers, authors, editors, sales, marketing, shipping, receiving, teachers, educators, etc., we help the world experience the joy of making music. It is a fact that kids who play music in school have higher graduation rates, higher test scores and in my experience a life that is more rewarding and rich. This is a small industry relatively speaking, without all of us doing our part, imagine all those kids who would go without music. I am grateful for you and all that you do to make more music makers. I am also grateful for the friends I have made in this business, I can’t imagine a life without my music family and of course my real family (Iris & Renee).

Marcia Stearns, Bookmark Music: Here at Bookmark Music we are all excited to be entering our 25th year of business. With help from colleagues within and outside the industry, plans are being made. Stay tuned!

I am grateful for my competent and loyal staff that enabled us to exhibit at more off-site events this year (our most successful activities), and for our loyal customers, without whom we wouldn’t have survived.


Petra Woodfull-Harris, Barenreiter: I have a ton of reasons to be very grateful right now. On the personal side, to name but a few, I look back on a year of good health. I very much enjoy our new kitchen, which we finally renovated and where I love to cook or simply relax with a cup of tea, and I am truly grateful that all of my three children are now at university AND like what they are doing. What else could you wish for?

On the business side: 2018 was a tough year at Barenreiter. Various new systems have been implemented this year accompanied by the (usual?) frustrations and a lot of extra work. But when I think about it, I am actually very grateful that I have a job which after 30 years still offers new challenges and excitement. It would be unbearably boring, if nothing ever changed. I look forward to creative new projects in 2019.

But most of all, I am grateful for the people I work with: my dear colleagues at Barenreiter and my dear customers in “remote” places of the world such as the USA. Cheers!” I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Christie, I hope you get a good break, and I wish you much love and all good things for 2019!

RPMDA Communications Committee: We want to thank all of you, for the everything you do to support the growth of music in your communities and for your many stories and sessions you have provided the RPMDA over the years.  The world needs music the healing power of music more than ever and we are downright lucky to work in a profession where we can support that.
Thank you for supporting RPMDA and Merry Christmas from your RPMDA Communications Team!
Right to Left: Christie Smith, Alfred; Cristina D’Alessandro, Cosmo Music; Tim Cose, Hal Leonard; Jenny VanPelt, Lorenz Corporation and Richard Rejino, RPMDA Executive Director.




1 thought on “RPMDA – Grateful at Christmas”

  1. Wonderful stories all. I can relate with the sentiments regarding our industry (wrong word for what we do).
    Music helps us appreciate everything else in our lives. It gets us through when things don’t always go right. And helps us celebrate when they do. A very Happy New Year to everyone from the Beacock family..Susan Gayle and Russ

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