The bright sign in front of Mar-Schell’s Music says "Over 40 years in business" and offers a free lesson to anyone, no strings attached.
Does that mean I can get a free ukulele lesson? (That would make Great Aunt Sophie, who once played at the Ukrainian Labour Temple, very proud). Hmm... I might also take that six-lesson special for only $99 with free instrument and lesson-book rental...
"The answer is yes", said Mars-Schells owner Mark Galbon, who pioneered the long -time North Kildonan business after starting out as a 15-year-old as music instructor at Kolt Music School and Sales. After he bought the Kolt location in 1981, Mar-Schell’s was born. It thrived for many years at the Henderson Highway building once known for its huge guitar mural.
Mar-Schell’s recently moved to a new space nearby, at 1109 Henderson Hwy., where two floors have been transformed with a strategic layout and top-of-the-line HVAC air exchange for every room. There are nine newly built lesson rooms with discrete plastic shields and spaciously designed waiting areas (with Wi-Fi, too).
Galbon wanted to continue his vision for Mar-Schell’s - which is to foster community connections and performance opportunities for his students. Mar-Schell’s offers a variety of music lessons in any style - rock, classical, urban - including voice classes, along with instrument sales, rentals, and repair.
That meant resurrecting the performance space Mar-Schell’s has always been known for in the store’s new location. It can now be found on the lower level.
Many people have discovered their musical ambitions and explored their talents on Mar-Schell’s stage, where open mic nights featuring a variety of performance and student showcases where often held
One long time act born of Mar-Schell’s is the popular Campfire Junkies, a charitable non-profit band for hire composed of former and present students.
Just before COVID-19 hit last year, Galbon had a light-bulb moment during the magic of a jam night. The sheer talent he was seeing made him think of creating a group called The Marmalades - a slick, audition-only band created to play professionally as much as possible.
As Galbon spoke, I noticed a large framed photo of a 1930s-era orchestra, its sign proudly displaying the moniker Galbon - his great uncle’s popular dance band.
Another photo shows Galbon playing bass alongside Burton Cummings, who just happened to drop by one of Galbon’s gigs to sing a few songs.
"I have never worked a day in my life, this is just a lot of fun", said Galbon who is also looking forward to opening up to on-line sales at the store’s web page, www.marschellsmusic.com
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan where she still resides. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Correspondent — East Kildonan
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan, where she still resides. She can be reached at email@example.com