UXBRIDGE – Doug Williamson celebrated two occasions on February 2: his birthday and the fifth anniversary of his music instruction studio, Blackstone Valley Music.
A guitar teacher by training, Doug purchased The Gig Stop music store five years ago and changed its name and focus from instrument sales to music lessons.
Visiting with Doug on a recent Saturday morning, his enthusiasm for the students and all things musical was infectious. “It's really interesting to watch them all make progress. Some of them have real potential.”
He introduced me to Vito Caccavelli, who was playing a keyboard at the front of the store. An Uxbridge High student, Vito has had guitar lessons for six years, and also plays the bass, mandolin, and keyboard. “You'll read about him someday.”
Doug believes music lessons provide a life skill for all ages. “It doesn't matter when you start; you're never too old to learn,” he says. The studio has older, as well as younger, students. Most people take lessons for enjoyment, to have some fun, he says, not to do it for a living.“We'll take you as far as you want to go.”
“We love this place,” said Tabitha Mckeown of Holliston, who was waiting for her son Ryan to finish his voice lesson with teacher Jan Mathieu. The waiting area is decorated with original paintings by Doug's mother Lillian A. Williamson. The store is equipped with WiFi, as well as book lending shelves, for people waiting for the students.
Doug also has a sizable music collection – CDs, cassette tapes, even some vinyl – from which students may borrow. An antique Chickering piano graces the library space.
The store has a small retail section with instrument accessories and beginner guitars, all Yamahas, as “they are the best value for money.”
The studio is equipped with private rooms for individual lessons. The doors have large windows so parents “can peek in” to see how the lessons are progressing.
The studio has twelve instructors now, teaching guitar, bass, violin/fiddle, banjo, viola, cello, ukulele, clarinet, saxophone, flute, drums, piano, and voice. Piano has been especially popular recently, Doug says, and he's had to hire two new teachers to meet the demand.
“I've been very fortunate with my teachers,” he says. “They are professional musicians, excellent instructors, and personable as well.” Doug himself teaches guitar, and though he can play the piano, he lets the professionals teach it so that “things get done the right way.”
Every year Blackstone Valley Music stages a student recital. It's optional but a good number participate. This year it's scheduled for June 7 at the Congregational Church in Uxbridge.
A band camp is scheduled for February school vacation week.
Blackstone Valley Music is located at 6 Mendon Street in Uxbridge; phone 508-278-7211; website www.blackstonevalleymusic.com.
Doug Williamson plays bass with Vito Caccavelli on keyboard. Behind them is Doug's personal instrument collection.
Ryan Mckeown with voice teacher Jan Mathieu.