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South Texas Music Mart tuned in to area schools

South Texas Music Mart General Manager Larry Germain on the showroom floor at 5253 S. Staples St. in Corpus Christi. Germain began working in the store two weeks after he and his wife, Cesarea, were married. That was 37 years ago. Photo by Carrie Robertson Meyer/Third Coast Photo

Friday night lights means more than football in the Coastal Bend. It also means halftime, when the blaring horns and rattling snares of high school bands drum up team spirit in the stands. What fans might not know about the movements on local gridirons is from where most of those instruments come. South Texas Music Mart, 5253 S. Staples St. in Corpus Christi, has kept music education in South Texas humming along for 44 years.

“We work with all the schools in the area, from Three Rivers to the north and Riviera to the south, west to Freer and everything in between,” said Larry Germain, the store’s general manager. “We have three full-time people who travel to schools on a weekly basis. We pick up and repair and bring supplies for all these school districts.”

The prelude to the busiest time of year for this group of former band directors (and current music professionals) begins in August, building to a crescendo in September and October. That’s when parents waltz in looking for the student/instrument match in tune with their budgets.

“One of the main things we do is supply beginner students with quality instruments that will work to their advantage,” Germain said. “There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s not very good, not repairable. We educate the public as to what is good.”

The staff at South Texas Music Mart fits students to instruments with resonance. From beginner to professional-line equipment, South Texas Music Mart’s supply and service cannot be beat.

MUSICAL NOTES

Music nurtures your brain, Germain said, keeping skills such as math sharp.

“You have to learn a new language, a new concept, and interpret what you’re seeing on the paper and play it or sing it,” he said. “It feeds your brain. Statistics show that people involved in music — no matter what branch — are more intelligent people. They have the best test scores because they are using both sides of their brains.”

Musical students reprise euphonious skills throughout their lives by playing for fun or singing in church and community choirs.

“It becomes part of you,” he said. “There’s a big enjoyment factor.”

Germain knows this from experience. He played in the band in middle and high schools and studied to become a band instructor. Both he and his wife of 37 years, Cesarea, sing in their church choir. Germain’s instrument of choice for his lifelong encore is the trumpet.

“I still play it, but it plays me more,” he said with a chuckle. “Like a bad fiddle, if you know what I mean.”

South Texas Music Mart’s ability to make music meaningful for students has orchestrated the company’s growth over the years. What started as three former band directors selling instruments, struck a chord when they learned to focus on the educational needs of local school music programs. A perfect harmony between the business and the schools led to success for both.

“A lot of our schools compete on the state level,” Germain said. “Every year, in the UIL competitions, we have some of our schools in the top five or ten. That’s saying a lot. I like to think we have something to do with that.”

Football is another important mix in the medley.

“Football is king,” he said. “Without football, we wouldn’t have bands. Even on the college level, they work hand in hand with the athletic departments to develop good solid music programs for students and fans.”

Major maestros include parents and teachers who understand the nurturing needed in a child’s musical progression. Germain recommends piano lessons early on as the best way to set a youngster’s tempo.

“With piano, you get a general appreciation of music and how to read music,” he said. “When you have those basics down, you can move into a wind or string or just your natural instrument — your voice. The sky’s the limit.”

South Texas Music Mart is located at 5253 S. Staples St. in Corpus Christi. Call (361) 993-7866 or visit southtexasmusicmart.com for more information.

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