ShamRock School of Music opened its doors in October of 2008 with one teacher and one student. And since then, we have built the school literally one student at a time. We have become a vibrant member of our community where musicians of all ages and experience can learn their instrument. The ShamRock Lounge has become somewhat of a “Town Square” where parents, students, teachers and our staff discuss everything from local happenings to who is the greatest rock band of all time.
As many of us know all too well, the Fall of 2008 was not the best time to start up a new business. But we forged ahead with our vision and the people embraced the idea. Maybe we all needed some music in our lives a little more during these difficult economic times, or maybe it was the fact that ShamRock brought true family values to the core of its instruction. Either way, we surpassed 20,000 lessons given in early 2013 and we have hosted a thousand or so live student performances. In addition we have rented thousands of school band and string instruments. But how did we get here? It took decades of experience to bring ShamRock to the community.
Laura and Randy Shamber, owners of ShamRock, had a vision for bringing first class musical instruction to their own community. Laura was raised in Wayne, NJ and graduated from Penn State University. Randy grew up in Connecticut where he learned to play guitar at the local music store that was walking distance from his home. He attended Central Connecticut State University where he spent 4 years as a broadcaster and promotions director for WFCS, the college radio station. Programming his own shows, Randy made sure that rock continued to rule the airwaves.
The Shamber’s have lived in Pompton Plains since 1999 and have raised their 2 children here. Both have always been involved with the community. Randy was a coach for the Pequannock Little League for 8 years. ShamRock sponsored a 12u softball team which included their daughter Claire that won the championship in 2011. Laura has been the Youth Minister at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church since 2006. She runs the Antioch Retreat where up to 100 teens attend a 3 day weekend away from home to celebrate their Faith. They wanted to bring their love of music and interest in helping young people together in a business.
Their music industry experience began when they were both hired by Zeta Music of Oakland, CA, a manufacturer of electric and MIDI string instruments. In 1993, Zeta entered into a partnership with Gibson Guitar. They needed business professionals to move Zeta from a cottage business to a multi-million dollar world-wide brand. Laura moved up the ranks quickly from office manager to general manager. In fact, Laura became the very first female GM in the 100 year history of Gibson guitar. She broke through the glass ceiling and attended all of the GM meetings with the movers and shakers of the guitar icon. Randy was in charge of sales and marketing at Zeta. This is where both of them learned all about how the music industry revolves. Their favorite part was getting to work with all of the great artists that used their product including Charlie Daniels, Jean-Luc Ponty and Boyd Tinsely of the Dave Mathews Band. They hung back stage with every major touring act in country music in the 90’s (they all had a fiddle player) and got to meet some really cool icons of the business from Tony Bennett to Jimmy Page to Bob Weir.
They decided to move back east in 1999 when Randy took a position as the northeast sales manager for Washburn Guitars. On his very first sales call he met ShamRock’s head guitar teacher and director of instruction, Vince Genella, who not only taught dozens of students every week, but was the manager of the retail store. Vince has been teaching guitar for over 20 years and has given tens of thousands of private lessons during that time.
Vince not only sold Parker Guitars and Randall Amps at the store, as a working musician, he used these products himself. Soon, the two of them were doing “clinic tours” by visiting and demonstrating the products at other music stores around the northeast. These clinics were events that they put on, and they seem to have a knack for that kind of thing!
As Randy travelled around to the hundreds of music stores in his territory, he began to take notice of the stores that had successful music lesson programs. These stores were always his favorite to visit as there always seems to be an extra level of energy at the store, with young people coming in and out every day. Although most music stores had some level of music lessons, only a very few seemed to do it properly. Randy saw kids taking lessons literally in broom closets, dingy basements or behind a row of milk crates to make up the “lesson rooms.” Those that had dedicated rooms were often messy, small and not well lit. All while this was happening, mom was waiting out in the car because the store never thought to give her a chair!
In 2007, a student of Vince’s, Michael Coppola, ended up contracting a rare form of leukemia as he entered high school. The Shamber’s and Vince wanted to help Michael and his family cope with the medical expenses that they had built up during his illness and they helped organize a fundraising concert. The event was a success yet it certainly was not enough to help cure the disease and Michael unfortunately passed in January of 2009.
But it was that event and that day where they hatched a plan to create their own music school where teachers, students and parents can all be respected and that the school can become an important member of the community by holding fundraising concerts with their students. Thank you Michael for your inspiration that day! ShamRock hosted its “Music For Mike” concert in November of 2012 to help raise funds for scholarships at Pequannock Township High School in Michael’s honor.
On October 28, 2008, a 7 year old boy named Brian Laumbach was ushered through the door of ShamRock by his mom and dad for his 4pm lesson. They were introduced to Vince and he entered the room we call “Purple Haze” and the parents sat down in our lounge. We talked school, church and music. At 4:30, Brian came out of his lesson with a huge smile on his face, and as they say, the rest is history.