Deerfield’s Village Music store nears five decades of musical success
Village Music Store owner Bob Gand and manager Lana Rae play a song Tuesday inside their Deerfield shop. The duo also perform together in a traveling folk music show. | Michelle LaVigne—Sun-Times Media
Address: 645 Osterman Ave., Deerfield
Phone: (847) 945-5321
Upcoming performance: Deerfield’s Winter Celebration on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:12AM
DEERFIELD — Staying in business for nearly half a century is quite easy: you simply must love what you do.
That is the business philosophy of the Village Music Store owner Bob Gand, who has been teaching music to generations of Deerfield residents since 1963. Gand’s work, which has spanned decades of sweeping music trends, has been based out if its current location, 645 Osterman Ave., since 1980. The nostalgic 1905 house it occupies helps speak to the history of his business.
“I started giving guitar classes back in 1963, and 14 students showed up to my first class,” Gand said about his beginnings in music. “The big change was eventually the 60s became the 70s and 80s, and people started wanting private lessons, so that is when we added our classrooms upstairs.”
His store manager, Lana Rae, who started working for the Village Music Store in 1968, said seeing the smiles on students’ faces as they come out of their lessons makes the job that much more enjoyable.
Lana also said that pop/rock singer Richard Marx took his first music lessons from the Village Music Store back when he was nine-years-old.
“His father used to bring him in every week for lessons when we were at our old location on Deerfield Road,” Rae said. “He was always with a smile, and performed at a lot of our events.”
Rae said Marx recently brought his children back to visit the place where he got his musical start.
“Right after he built his home in Lake Bluff, he brought his kids back here to see where he got his start,” Rae said. “It was nostalgic; he’s a really great guy.”
Gand said there are a lot of things about his store that set it apart from the others. For one, his teachers and students have access to more than 50,000 songs from which to learn.
“We have 5,000 song books here in the store, each with at least 10 songs in them,” Gand said. “No other music store has that.”
Rae said the music variety ranges from classic Broadway show tunes to hard rock music such as Korn and Slipknot.
She added that it’s also the unique variety of music instruments and lessons that makes the store much more appealing.
“We sell everything from the ukulele, the smallest stringed instrument, to the largest, which is the upright bass and folk guitars,” Rae said. “We also sell amplifiers and lessons for all these instruments.”
Rae said the shop also offers music workshops throughout the year.
As far as music teachers go, Gand and Rae said they only look for the best of the best.
“Our teachers have letters after their name,” Gand said. “M.M. for master’s of music. Except for one saxophone teacher, who has D.M. after his name. That’s because he’s the drum major for his school,” Gand added with a laugh. “He really is a great saxophone player.”
Gand’s love for marching band music still exists today. He returns to his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Champaign, every year for homecoming to perform with the alumni band during halftime.
“Me and my trumpet,” Gand said. “I’m still going back to school.”
Gand and Rae’s musical involvement also extends to events in Deerfield. Back in 2010, Gand said Mayor Harriet Rosenthal presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fourth of July festival for his involvement in community festivals and civic outreach.
“She handed it to me and I said, ‘does this mean it’s over?” Gand recalled.
He later laughed and added, “No, it’s just the next phase.”
Gand and Rae still perform their folk and jazz music throughout the North Shore, performing in groups such as The Big Band Sound of Deerfield and the Bob Gand Smooth Jazz Band.