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Music Authority still going strong thanks to virtual lessons

A music store in Cumming is offering online classes for piano, guitar, bass, and voice.

CUMMING, Ga. — For nearly 20 years, Music Authority has offered lessons to students in Forsyth County. The business, which was purchased by Melissa Loggins and her husband in 2004, started as a retail store.

“We had like six lesson studios and maybe 30 students. Not many to start with," she said. "When the recession hit back in 2007 and 2008, we really built on the education program. So now the lessons are probably 75 percent of our business.”

Despite many local businesses shutting down in recent weeks, Music Authority remains open. But Loggins said they’ve made a few changes.

“I did have to put most of my sales floor and administrative staff on temporary unemployment, which I hate, and I'm hoping I can reverse that soon,” she said. “We kept our one full-time administrator and then my husband and myself. We are the only ones who are payroll people. All of my teachers are contractors.”

Thanks to their ability to teach online classes, nearly all of those teachers are still employed by Music Authority.

“All but two,” Loggins said. “One was a piano instructor. He's very classically based and just refused to do it, so his students are either waiting for him to come back or taking lessons with another instructor. And I have one teacher who lives in an apartment building, and he teaches saxophone. That was just not going to be conducive to his living situation. We have 28 instructors on staff. 26 of them are all teaching virtually now.”

Credit: Melissa Loggins

She said they lost some of their students from March into April, but new students keep signing up for lessons, including half a dozen more just last week.

“I think we dropped about 17.5 percent,” Loggins said. “Of the students who are dropping, they are about 50/50 families who just don't like the online thing, or job losses.”

As for the new students, she said it’s a wide range of ages and skill sets.

“We signed up a mom who started lessons this weekend on the mandolin because she's had a mandolin forever and said ‘I never had time.’ And we were like ‘now is the time,’ so she started lessons this weekend,” Loggins said. “That's the main thing. ‘I'm at home, and I have nothing else to do. Even if I'm working from home, I get done early.’ So those are the people who are signing up.”

She said the retail aspect of Music Authority has slowed drastically, but there are still some people making appointments and coming in to make a purchase.

“We’ve had a couple of our customers come in and buy very nice guitars from us, because they're like ‘we know you need it, and I've been thinking about this guitar for so long, I'm going to do it.’ I'm so grateful for those customers,” Loggins said. “I'll be honest, I cry on a daily basis when somebody says ‘hey, I need to buy a guitar.’”

Times are tough, she said, but she’s thankful to be part of an industry that people can’t live without.

“Music heals the soul, and music it’s sort of the great equalizer,” Loggins said. “We all love music in some form or fashion. Knowing that we are a necessity without being a necessity, we're an essential business without actually being an essential business, is wonderful.”

She went on to say the music industry as a whole seems to be coming together, despite the global pandemic affecting all of us.

“I have a weekly conversation with stores in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, Alabama, and we're like ‘what's working for you right now? What can we do better?’ So its learning best practices,” Loggins said. “Even stores that would be my competitors here in Atlanta, I take phone calls from them and they're like ‘okay, how was your week? Are you doing okay?’ It's really created a tighter sense of community within the musical community, and it gives me hope.”

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