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Musicality gives ABQ full-service music store


Michael Keith, owner of Musicality, strums on a ukulele at his new store.  (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Music lovers, meet Musicality.

The new business is a labor of love for Michael Keith, who wanted to make sure Albuquerque continued to have a full-service music store after the closure of at least four music shops during the past few years.

Keith was part of the family that ran Music Mart, the largest of the shuttered stores, and he has moved much of the sheet music inventory to his new business at 6201 Pan American Freeway, west of Interstate 25 and just south of Osuna.

The 3,100 square-foot space, which used to be a vacant office and warehouse, also offers instrument rentals and four studios for private lessons.

“It’s a business, to me, that’s dedicated to the arts in the community,” Keith said. “We’re supporting performers and growing musicians. Kids nowadays who want to play an instrument need a place to go. So it’s not just about retail.”

Keith said some of the people who were involved in the now-closed stores, such as Grandma’s Music, “shared opinions and insights” to help make his new venture a success.

It’s not easy to open a music store, considering the competition from online sources and the amount of inventory that has to be stocked to serve a wide audience. Some of what Musicality sells are “specialty items that, once acquired, you may not sell for a long period.”

Keith, who said he invested at least $75,000 in the busines, was able to undertake the effort primarily because he inherited from Music Mart the inventory of popular and classical songbooks, as well as instructional manuals for all kinds of instruments.

And while there are music books available online, copyright laws restrict the availability of scores so that you can see only a portion of a piece, he said. You also lose the ability to “just come in and browse,” he said.

“When you’re out there as a musician looking for repertoire to play … you need a selection,” he said. “We have things here that you don’t even know you need.”