Ellis Music Company dates back to 1946, when company founder Richard Ellis began acquiring instruments for his own students, who lived in rural communities miles from the nearest music store.
Mr. Ellis grew up in South Royalton, Vt. He started a dance band while still a student at South Royalton High School, performing regularly at local grange halls and other venues. Though he desired a career in music, the high school guidance counselor advised against it, saying that it wasnít possible to make a living through music in Vermont. He subsequently attended the University of Vermont, taking courses in engineering. Mr. Ellis worked for a brief time as an engineer but quickly realized that his passion for music was not being satisfied.
For two years during the swing era, Mr. Ellis toured as a saxophonist with the Mal Hallett Big Band. He turned down an offer to play baritone sax in Gene Krupaís band, choosing instead to return to Vermont and become a music teacher.
He enrolled as a brass student at the New England Conservatory, learning to play the instruments he couldnít and taking as many courses as possible while still performing by night. Mr. Ellis was employed as the instrumental music teacher in Rochester, Bethel, Randolph, and South Royalton for many years, forming a band in each school. He also taught music lessons privately, renting instruments for $1 or $2 per week.
Soon neighboring music teachers were asking Mr. Ellis for instruments, reeds, and other supplies for their students. From the beginning, it was a family business, with Richardís wife, Polly, keeping the books. As the business grew and the four Ellis children left home, each of their bedrooms was converted into storage for more instruments. Eventually the demand for instruments and supplies grew to the point that Mr. Ellis decided to stop teaching so he could devote his full attention to the business.
The Ellis family residence doubled as company headquarters until 1988, when Ellis Music Company moved into its current 7,200-square-foot facility, which houses a showroom, offices, repair shop, and warehouse.
Richard Ellis retired in 1989, transferring operation of the business to three of his children. Today, Ellis Music Company continues to operate under the direction of the Ellis family, adhering to its founding principles: support music in the region with affordable, quality instruments, reliable repair work, and outstanding customer service.