For Jake Rendell and Carrie Suriano, co-owners of Case’s Music at 636 Queen St. E., the personal touch makes all the difference.
Case’s, Carrie told SooToday, is more than a great place to buy a musical instrument and for people of all ages to take music lessons.
“To me, it’s like family,” Carrie smiled.
“I get invited to birthday parties and graduations, because I treat the kids who come here for lessons like they’re my own kids, and adult students have become my friends and they’ll invite me to their camps and say ‘bring your guitar, we’ll have a campfire.’”
Case’s is also a place for the musically inclined to de-stress.
Acoustic guitar and ukelele sales have “skyrocketed in the last five years,” Jake said, due to the style of music being played by some of today’s bands, such as Walk Off The Earth, The Lumineers, and Cage The Elephant.
“They’re not going the electric route anymore... there are more banjo students than electric guitar students right now. Now you’re seeing it come back to campfire songs. Meditation and self care is what’s important to a lot of people right now with everything that’s going on in this world,” Carrie said.
“People need to take a minute to sit down and de-stress and a lot of our students, especially adults and shift workers, come here and do that.”
Carrie has been a co-owner at Case’s (the subject of this week’s Midweek Mugging) since 2010, and Jake, owner of Algoma Instrument Repair, which he has operated since 2012, decided to incorporate in 2017 since both businesses were operating under the same roof on Queen Street.
“It just made more sense for everything to be ‘one',” Carrie said.
“We offer a little bit of everything. Our big one is music education (apart from instrument sales and repair),” said Jake, a musician and professionally-trained schoolteacher.
“We have 10 teachers on staff that each do private lessons in voice, piano, guitar, ukelele, drums, mandolin, banjo, violin...pretty much everything.”
“We try to be the one-stop shop,” said Carrie, who comes from a musical and business management background.
“You come in the door, you purchase or rent your instrument, then you move to the lounge (a spacious, pleasant waiting area with comfortable couches and a TV, its walls lined with eye-catching paintings) where you sit and wait for your teacher to come and get you, then you go down the hall and get into one of the teaching rooms.”
Beyond that space, there is a band room, and Carrie said she anticipates a recording studio behind the band room will be used once again, if there is need.
The building is spacious enough for all these facilities.
“It’s a huge building, and we’re rapidly expanding. Our school is booming right now and we are constantly hiring more teachers because we have more students, and it’s almost to the point where we need more teaching rooms,” Carrie said enthusiastically.
The number of students at Case’s, Carrie said, fluctuates between 250 to 320.
Students are already signed up for music lessons for next year.
That’s for all ages too.
“We literally are zero to infinity (in terms of ages of students), until you literally can’t come here anymore, then we’ll even come to you,” Carrie laughed.
As well as private lessons, Case’s also offers a program called Music for Mommy and Me.
“It’s for newborns to four years old. We’ve had kids who started here at 11 days old and now they are in their own private lessons at four years old,” Carrie said.
Case’s also offers hand drumming, ukelele and guitar groups for adults, for beginners to advanced.
“The other big thing we do is our summer camps,” Carrie said.
One group is for four to six-year-olds, the other for children from seven to 11.
Summer camps will run at Case’s from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for children four to six years old from July 9 to 13, and for children seven to 11 from July 16 to 20.
The camps are based at Case’s, but the young students get to venture out every day for trips.
“They go to the Bushplane Museum for a couple of hours, and then we go to the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, where they’re awesome! They’ll go on a scavenger hunt for musical things...the Sault Ste. Marie Museum is a great place to go, they’re awesome with our kids. Then we take the city bus and we go to the John Rhodes Centre one day in the week to go swimming, we’ll go to Clergue Park, there’s exercise every day,” Carrie said.
Musically, the children will have private and group lessons and, at the end of the week, they’ll put on a concert.
Spaces in the summer camps are filling up rapidly, Carrie said.
Jake has studied voice and plays guitar, drums and mandolin.
Carrie has played piano, guitar and saxophone, the mandolin her current favourite instrument, and has also studied voice.
“I’ve been a musician for a long time. There are a lot of different career paths in music, including being an instrument repair technician,” Jake said, encouraging young people to get involved in music as a pastime or career.
“It’s important to me to be connected with our music community in Sault Ste. Marie, and grow that community, and we’re trying to keep it going,” Jake said.
With that in mind, Carrie said it’s also important to note Case’s, if unable to meet a customer’s immediate need, will refer that customer to one of the other music stores in the Sault to keep it local.
“Music, and this business, is important to me because I get to watch these kids come in who have never played an instrument before in their lives, and in a few short months I get to watch them on stage in a concert and play an entire song, or sing a song, and that is the greatest joy you can get from watching these children, and the adults,” Carrie said.
“I also love that I get to employ 13 people (three full time staff and 10 music teachers) in Sault Ste. Marie, in the downtown, doing what they want to do. Not everybody gets to do that.”
“Music can change your mood in a heartbeat. If you’re having a terrible day you can put on a great, fun, upbeat song and in an instant your mood has changed,” Carrie said.
As far as musical tastes go, Jake describes himself, primarily, as a fan of “straight up 90s pop rock, but there are so many different types of music I love for so many different reasons.”
“My guilty pleasure is hardcore punk music, and I like 90s grunge...but I also grew up listening to big bands and swing music, like Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller,” Carrie smiled.
“It’s been interesting to watch Case’s evolve, since we moved from Spring Street to here in 2012. We love what we do,” Carrie said.
More information on Case’s Music, its products and programs, may be found on Facebook, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (705) 256 7388.