SMITHVILLE — Tim Sublette, owner of Smithville Music Studio, said that the name of his business confuses some because it’s an older term.
“Some people think of it as a recording studio,” Sublette said. “It’s not. It’s a teaching studio. It’s kind of an older term. There used to be lots of teaching studios. It’s a term not used as often anymore, but the ‘studio’ is referring to a teaching studio.”
The walls of Sublette’s studio are lined with instrument accessories. There is a display case with amps and a rotating display of envelopes filled with strings. To complete the musician’s décor, a guitar with its back panel removed was painted and harnessed to the wall displaying albums, on what may have been the back brace, like a shelf.
What exactly does your business do?
“Private music instruction. We do guitar, piano, bass, banjo, ukulele and woodwinds. I also have retail music,” Sublette said.
He also repairs stringed instruments and has instruments for sale.
“Mostly stringed instruments, guitars ... and accessories,” he said.
How many employees do you have?
“It’s just me,” Sublette said, adding that two other instructors give lessonsthrough his business, but they aren’t employees of the store. A married couple, Sheila and Mike Everman of Smithville, teach piano and woodwinds, respectively, while Sublette teaches stringed instruments.
How did you get started in this field?
“I became a full-time teacher in 1974 and worked my way through college teaching on the East Coast. Then I came back, played professionally for a number of years and just decided to open my own place for teaching. My own studio.
“Guitar is my principle instrument,” he added.
As a professional musician, Sublette said he mostly performed in band situations sticking predominately to country and Top 40 rock bands.
“Just working guys,” he said.
What makes this business challenging?
“Challenging is working around people’s schedules and my schedule,” Sublette said. “Challenging and also rewarding is just dealing with different personalities and different age groups, and trying to find the way that you can help them the most to achieve their goals musically.”
Who do you go to for business advice?
“Recently I just went to the Small Business Bootcamp at the Woodneath library, I thought that was a great place to get some information. I’ll probably seek out the group SCORE,” Sublette said.
SCORE is a group he described as experienced and retired businessmen who volunteer their time to provide business advice.
“I had some exposure to them before,” he added. He said he just kind of forgot they were there, and then they popped up at the business bootcamp.
What makes this business rewarding?
“I run about 50/50 adult to youth,” Sublette said. “Both of them have really rewarding things. It’s neat to take someone who maybe has never played before. I’ve had students clear up to where they were 90 years old and they are still learning and trying to play and instrument. For me, trying to give that to a person that doesn’t have a lot of new challenges or things they can take and they are taking on something new in their life. To me that is very rewarding.”
He continued, “I feel like I’m really giving something to someone when I do that.”
Working with children is rewarding for him because he’s been in business long enough now to teach his previous students’ children. He said it makes him feel a little old, but the enjoyment he gets creating a lineage of musicians dominates.
What surprises people most about your business?
“That I’m here, in Smithville, Missouri, doing what I do,” Sublette said. “The quality teaching, not just myself but the piano teacher and the woodwind teacher, the quality of the teachers and their educational background is astounding. I’ve taught on the East Coast. I’ve taught down in south Missouri. You don’t come across the quality of teachers we have here other places. Everyone here has degrees in music and background in education, and it’s pretty amazing they are all right here in Smithville.
“I’m always in awe of their ability.”
What is your most popular product or service?
“The lessons, definitely. We do a lot of lessons, probably over 100 lessons a week.”
What’s next for your business?
“That’s a good question because it’s one I have been asking myself recently,” Sublette said. “We may try to expand. I’d kind of like to add another teacher or two. Definitely some remodeling is in the works right now. So those are a couple of things on horizon … not necessarily sizewise, but remodeling things where I can accommodate a couple more teachers.”
Sublette writes and records music frequently. He has one solo album out and several singles. He and some colleagues have been working on finishing up an album that is slated to come in the near future.
“I don’t always do bluegrass stuff,” Sublette said. “I really like it all.”