Wurlitzer developed a keyboard lab system to stimulate group teaching programs and promote organ sales.
The marketing of musical instruments throughout the 1950s and 1960s had two main refrains: every family needs a piano in the home and every child should be enrolled in school music. Local newspapers and the radio were the advertising media of choice, and dealer-sponsored school instrument rental programs were the mechanism for drawing children into music.
Band clinics sponsored by manufacturers also emerged as an important way to promote school music. The Olds Band Instrument Company was the first to use such a program, but others soon followed. Well-known musicians such as Rafael Mendez and Doc Severinsen were often hired by manufacturers to visit their dealers. The visiting artist gave demonstrations, talked to parents and kids, and played with the school band, inspiring thousands of children to take up a musical instrument.
Advertising was aimed at middle-class families during this period. It emphasized the importance of music to a child’s future.
A Renaissance in Music Education
Manufacturers and dealers worked together to support music in the schools during the 1950s and 1960s. As they perfected the instrument rental program, the number of beginners grew from one million a year in 1950 to three million a year by 1966.
Other branches of the industry were actively involved in music education as well. Hammond Organ Company hired keyboard educator Robert Pace to develop a method for group organ instruction. Piano manufacturers also retained Pace to interest educators in class piano instruction. They were moderately successful.
In addition, most retailers offered lessons on a wide variety of instruments. Some hired music educators to establish in-store education departments.
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