From when Cindy Paschal was just 5 years old, there was no silence around her home.
That’s because her favorite toy was a little chord organ. And for her, there was nothing more fun than sounding out the songs she loved more than anything else. Though no one else in her family played a musical instrument, she says, with a shrug, “I just had an inborn desire to play.”
And play. And play. And play.
“Silent Night?” she laughs. “I played that song 365 days a year!”
Now, decades later, Ms. Paschal shares that love with other musicians – including students of all ages – who flock to her combination store-and-studio at 2214 Dunn Ave. There, at Music Time, the mission is to simply help make playing music fun – for everyone.
Ms. Paschal remembers well how good it felt as a child to be developing a talent she could share with others. At age 11, she began taking formal lessons in piano, voice and organ. When she was 12, her parents finally took her to the music store at Gateway Mall to buy her first real organ. And when she began testing out models, a crowd gathered round, the storeowner asked if he could give her a job. “That was my job,” she chuckles now. “Just to keep people entertained.”
When work began, the store manager would roll a big organ out onto the sidewalk, and she’d play, stopping shoppers and drawing the curious into the store.
Then when she got older, she began to teach organ and piano students. Eventually, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in piano performance from the University of North Florida.
Fifteen years ago, when the store she worked for closed, dozens of students were left with no way to continue their music education. So Cindy Paschal opened Music Time, which sells and offers lessons for most instruments and voice.
In the converted brick home, there are seven studios where students work one-on-one with instructors. In the center are two showrooms filled with anything a musician – new or seasoned – could possibly want or need.
There are guitars, metronomes, drum sets, teaching materials, how-to-books and videos, and accessories, like drum sticks, strings, straps, picks, tuners and reeds for wind instruments.
There are great racks of music holding hard-to-find items that draw customers from as far away as St. Augustine and South Georgia. There are CD’s of backup music, musical games that help build skills.
There are instruments for band and orchestra – new, used and many available to rent.
There are microphones, karaoke machines and novelty gift items to delight any music enthusiast.
There are instruments designed for preschool fun.
And the staff can even measure girls, for a just-the-right-size baton, suitable for serious twirlers.
In fact, if the Music Time staff doesn’t have what someone’s seeking, they can get it -or build it.
Assistant Manager John Bovinette, a walking encyclopedia of instrument details, often puts together custom drum sets for enthusiasts who know exactly what they want. He also makes expert repairs to guitars and brass instruments, when he’s not teaching students to play brass and drums.
Manager Kevin Perryman greets customers with a friendly, I’m-here-to-help attitude, putting them instantly at ease, if they’re not sure exactly what they need. He, too, is a seasoned instructor, sharing his wealth of knowledge with students who play drums, mallets, congas and more.
“They’re service is great,” raves Randreya Goodman, mom to Aundreya, who started piano when she was 5.
“They’re efficient. It’s a safe environment They work with you on scheduling [of making up missed lessons or changing lesson times to make them more convenient.] And they’re always pleasant – no matter when you come.
“She gets good instruction – and it’s consistent.”
And Mrs. Goodman has found that good instructors are hard to find. That’s why she’s happy to make the drive from Jacksonville’s west side.
Current students, who pay $62 per month for weekly, half-hour private lessons, range in age from about 4 to their 80s. Some come, intent on learning to play for church. Other want to participate in the voluntary recitals, or want to ready themselves for auditions. Still Others just want to play for the pure fun of it.
The 15 instructors are willing to teach any style of music – from pop to jazz, classical to country.
And if a new student doesn’t know which instrument to choose, he can take a lesson on a different instrument each week, until he decides which is right.
“Students enjoy music – that’s our focus,” Ms. Paschal smiles, as yet another wave of students enters the store in time for their lessons.
“We have a lot of older adults who’ve just always wanted to play. I hear that a lot. And the best thing is, you’re never too old to learn.”
Thank you to Ray & Nanette Holt of the North Jax Monthly