According to a Harvard-based research team, music education “promotes the development and maintenance of a key set of mental skills.” These executive functions “enable us to manage our time and attention, organize our thoughts, and regulate our behavior – abilities that are crucial to success in school, as well as later life.”
Zeswitz Music has long understood that music education matters.
William Zeswitz Sr., a master luthier and maker of world-class violins, created the company to serve the Reading Symphony Orchestra and local musicians. Over 90 years later, their work continues as they support music educators across Eastern PA, NJ, and MD. Their mission, however, has not been without bumps.
This July 28th marks the two-year anniversary of the company’s independence from its former corporate owners. Randy Shayler, who grew up working in his family’s small business in upstate New York, acquired Zeswitz to return it to its roots. “Zeswitz began as an independently-owned, family business. When the owners retired they sold the business to a corporation, then yet another corporation bought it. During those years, the company lost touch with some of its core values. Now, our team has refocused Zeswitz on doing the job our founder set out to accomplish.” Shayler also returned the company’s headquarters to Reading in Exeter Township.
Says owner Shayler, “Earlier this summer, the U.S. Senate recognized music as a core subject in the nation’s school curriculum. At Zeswitz, we’re dedicated to making music educators more successful in their classrooms.”
Zeswitz Music’s School Services and Rental Department was one of the first of its kind in the nation. What began with accordion and organ rentals expanded to include band and orchestral instruments of all types. “When students in our schools come of age musically, we help their teachers by co-hosting a kind of petting zoo. We bring in the instruments, and the kids (and their parents) get to see, touch, and test them. It’s exciting to watch their reactions and see the teachers encourage artistic opportunities.”
Zeswitz supports students across socio-economic barriers through several initiatives, including their sponsorship of the Reading Musical Foundation’s Operation Replay program, which provides used instruments to financially disadvantaged students who would like to participate in a music program. Additionally, in districts with which they are closely associated, the Zeswitz Scholarship Instruments program provides students who can’t afford the rental cost with instruments. Says Shayler, “We want all young people to have access to music, regardless of their economic circumstances.”
Zeswitz’s dedication to music educators expanded this year with their first annual Summer Symposium held in mid June, the traditional end of the public school year. Presented in conjunction with the Conn-Selmer Institute, the seminar boasted sessions led by local and national experts on topics such as Music Program Advocacy and Music Education Technology. Weekly, their services to schools include high quality rentals, accessories, and a repair guarantee of two weeks. According to Shayler, “93% of our repairs are returned within one week. Fast, professional repairs are critical to the teachers and their students. We pick up and deliver right to the schools.”
So far this year, Zeswitz’s retail sales have increased by over 40% versus 2014, and overall revenue is up 12% for the second quarter. “I think this means we’re rapidly regaining our status as the provider of choice for the products that school systems and their students need.”
"The Methacton School District Orchestra program has been working with Zeswitz since 1995. Over the past two years, the quality of service and products provided by Zeswitz has become exceptional. Our sales representative provides outstanding service, our instrument repairs are completed in a timely manner, with excellent craftsmanship, and the instruments that Zeswitz is supplying to my students are good quality. I would highly recommend Zeswitz to any educational entity that is looking to establish a relationship with a full-service instrumental music company,” says Susan E. Basalik, Elementary Orchestra Director for the Methacton School District.