Story and photos by Joey Crandall
There are still remnants. All the way around the room, remnants of the old store in the Haas Center where music made a home for so many years.
The old pump organ. Guitars. Amplifiers. Sheet music. Vinyl albums. A picture on top of the piano here. Another picture under the mandolin there.
It is Wayne’s Family Music, the life’s work of master musician and teacher Chuck Wayne, encapsulated in his family’s open-raftered Ranchos living room.
Small “Touches of Chuck” exist in seemingly every corner of the home — Reminders of more than 20 years of teaching the Valley to sing, drum, play and strum.
When Chuck passed away suddenly in January 2012, many assumed the music store, long since moved from Main Street into the family home, was also gone.
But, as they say, the beat goes on.
Chuck’s oldest son, Matt, 32, has picked up teaching the lessons, repairing the instruments, transposing the sheet music – the whole bit.
“I grew up with it,” Matt Wayne said. “I grew up seeing bands play with my dad. I learned everything from him.
“I started to learn other instruments just from watching customers come into the store. They’d come in and jam and I was always asking ‘Hey, how do you play that?’ I never played baseball or other sports. I was at the music store all the time. It’s memories I’d never trade.”
It was with that in mind that Matt decided to pick up the family trade.
“It took me about a year to figure out what I really wanted to do,” he said. “This was something I just grew up with and didn’t want to see it end. I left a full-time job with benefits to teach lessons. I believe in this, because my dad believed in it.”
For Karen Wayne – Matt’s mother and Chuck’s wife of 35 years – it’s a welcome continuation.
“I’m just happy to see his work being carried on,” Karen said. “It’s something that was his passion since he was 5 years old. So, 51 years. It’s good to see that it will continue.
“Dad’s grandfather started the band at Knott’s Berry Farm. I guess that’s where it all started. It became Dad’s love. I like to think he was still playing when he died. We’d be sitting here and he’d fall asleep – His hands would still be playing the piano, just tapping some song out on my arm.
“That’s how much he loved music. He played in his sleep. It was his passion, and we ended up with three kids who all love and play music.”
Matt’s younger siblings – Michelle Harmon lives in Kentucky with her husband and four children and Justin Wayne lives in Carson City with his family – have continued in music.
But Matt is trying to keep the business afloat in the Valley.
“It’s funny, my dad’s dad helped us get the store open at the Haas Center,” he said. “Now I’m trying to keep that work going.
“My dad just did everything. It’s big shoes to fill. I’m not very strong on piano, but I’m offering private lessons for guitar, bass and drums. I can do saxophone and trumpet lessons too, things like that, but my focus is on guitar, bass and drums.”
Wayne said he has piano teachers he’s connected with to help with private lessons. He can also tune pianos, and move them with the proper notice.
“Just as a kid, I’d go with my dad and tune pianos with him,” he said. “I know how to do it, I’m a bit slower than he was, but the more practice I get, the faster I will get. I can do repairs on almost any instrument, because that is what we did at the store, all the time. Band instruments, string instruments, some piano repairs. If you have a problem, I can try to tackle it.
“My dad had a quote that was on all our advertisements: ‘Our focus is on enjoyment while learning the basics to play every style.’ That’s my main goal, is to continue that focus.”
Matt is also in the process of renewing partnerships with distributors and sales licenses in order to — become a full-service vendor for instruments again.
Wayne’s Family Music is linked up with the new NV Rock School on Toler Avenue in Gardnerville. Wayne will have a mini-store front set up there and teach lessons from there once the school year starts.
“In the meantime, if someone is looking for an electric guitar or something, I can find them a really good deal,” Wayne said. “We can’t compete to a certain point with the online retailers. You can get a $99 guitar, but you are getting a $99 guitar. Those end up needing work. I’m here to help with that.
“The biggest thing we want people to know is that we are still here, providing services. I can essentially do anything that has anything to do with the music industry. If I can’t do it, I know people who can.
“If someone has a piano in need of a good home, I can tune it up and move it. I can transfer cassettes and things like that to digital.
“I want to help promote other people’s talents and services in the area too, instead of having to send people to Reno or something like that. I know people here that can do a lot of stuff. I hope to help keep people in the community for these services.”
Wayne has kept the same phone number from the old store, 775-782-7739. He can be reached over e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or found on Facebook. He’ll also be available through the NV Rock School at 1287 Toler Ave. in Gardnerville.