Jason Bower knew his business had come full circle when University of Colorado, Denver graduate Dylan Kobar joined Castle Rock Music as an instructor.
Kobar started learning guitar at the music store when he was just a tween.
“Now he teaches in the same studio that he took lessons in,” said Bower, the store owner.
In addition to selling and repairing instruments, which accounts for about half the business, Castle Rock Music teaches piano, violin, drums, brass, woodwinds and singing to children and adults.
In fact, the number of adults they teach has increased. They’re having “smell the roses” moments — and using music to step out of the busyness of their lives and do something for themselves, Bower said.
Bower estimates adults make up 35% of their students these days.
A lesson at the shop runs between $30 and $35 and Castle Rock Music does not have registration fees, contracts or memberships.
“We really want people to have the opportunity to try an instrument and if it’s not for them — easy in, easy out,” Bower said.
Shaping the environment in which you work is one of the perks of running a small business, said Bower, citing the store’s loose, laid-back vibe.
“You can make the culture what you want with it,” Bower said. “So we have a lot of fun with our customers here in the shop.”
After nearly three decades in the music world, the 42-year-old has seen a few changes come about.
While the store’s recording studio still gets use from folks making college audition tapes, it’s not as busy as it was 20 years ago. Improvements in computers and other technology make recording at home less expensive and easier than it used to be, Bower said.
Technology also makes the sale of sheet music in the store a bit superfluous as well since it can easily be found and downloaded from the internet. However, Castle Rock Music maintains a free sheet music library for those who want to thumb through pages and enjoy the nostalgia.
Of course, technology’s not all bad. The internet makes it easier for potential customers to find Castle Rock Music. Social media gives the business an opportunity to show people “what’s going on inside the walls” of the shop on Wilcox Street as well as another avenue to communicate with people, Bower said.
However, he would never trade a brick-and-mortar store for an internet business, even though the day-to-day of running a shop can be trying at times.
“I want to know people,” Bower said. “I want to be able to talk. That was what was so hard about COVID.”
That desire to connect in person with community — whether with students, professional musicians or other businesses in the area — is driving Bower’s search for more spring and summer performance opportunities for his students and instructors.
Recitals, concerts and festivals are where Castle Rock Music, and the community, gets to see the results of everyone’s efforts.
“It makes all the hard work and all the frustrations worth it,” Bower said.