By Alaina Sullivan
GuitarWorks has been a staple in the Center Grove community since 1986. To the outside eye, one would assume that GuitarWorks is just a store, but for owner and founder Kevin Franklin, it is so much more.
One of the things that makes the store so unique is that each employee has his or her hand into every aspect of the business. “It takes a bizarre set of qualifications to do what we do,” said Franklin. “Everybody does everything. We are not pigeonholed. It is one end of the spectrum to the next.”
Yes, they sell guitars, but it does not stop there. Once you step inside the door, you hear the sound of music of all varieties coming from the left where they hold music lessons. A large portion of the building is dedicated to music lessons. The store offers a large variety of lessons, anywhere from guitar, bass, drums, banjo, brass, woodwinds to even ukulele. “It is pretty comprehensive,” said Alderman who plays the drums. The store employs 27-29 teachers.
The back of the store contains a large room with a stage and full set open for performances. The actual GuitarWorks building is over 19 years old. When they began to plan the construction, they always envisioned a multipurpose room being a huge focus in the store. The hope was for the store to be used as a music clinic and performing space for local and nationally known artists.
The store is well known for its Band Builders program, a workshop created six years ago designed to teach aspiring musicians how to come together as a successful band. Band Builders is no “School of Rock.” Franklin observed that similar programs designed in that fashion did not teach how to work as a band and produce quality music.
“I didn’t see any music coming out of it, no competent music or people working together as a band, making the most of productive practice time,” said Franklin. The average age of participant in the program is 13-17 years old with at least one adult band.
In total, the bands spend five hours practicing together before giving a public performance. The program is a six-week session costing $175, including five one-hour sessions with the program ending in a concert.
Bands must find venues for concerts, while GuitarWorks assists them in finding opportunities. “If you want to play, you have to do the leg work too,” said Franklin. They offer help, but the bands need to find the opportunities, including Freedom Festival, WAMMfest and the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.
Franklin gives back to the community through annual charitable concerts, benefiting non-profits and causes in the area, the most recent being the Ronald McDonald House.
GuitarWorks is more than just a business. They run the store with a great deal of heart and passion, 19 years and running. “Music is a lifetime pursuit or avocation,” Franklin. “Mastering it is a whole other lifetime pursuit.”
Alaina Sullivan is an attorney and freelance writer in Indiana. She focuses her legal work on providing free legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney and is passionate in writing about legal issues and news in the non-profit industry.