Shawn Cupolo, owner of H.B. Woodsongs, with Colorado Governor Jared Polis. (Photo courtesy: H.B. Woodsongs. Note: Photo is from a previous visit in 2019).

The customers who flocked to H.B. Woodsongs in Boulder were itching to make music.

Following guidance from state health officials, the storied instrument shop reopened its doors in May after months of closure due to the COVID pandemic. With strict safety measures in place, the store on 28th Street with a nearly 50-year history of connecting the community with music welcomed customers back.

The reopening drew enthusiastic musicians of all levels, interests and backgrounds, including one high-profile parent looking to connect their daughter with a means of creative expression.

“The first day we were able to open to the public, Gov. Jared Polis came in and got a clarinet for one of his kids,” recalled Shawn Cupolo, who owns the store with his wife Sondra Blanchard. “We don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen with schools in the fall, and I would hope that school officials, teachers and parents hold on to the value of a music education in their kids’ lives. We can help them do that.”

Even amid the isolation and quarantine over the past four months, local businesses that specialize in music have found ways to keep a connection to the customers that need creative expression the most, including those young players just starting their musical journey.

Even during the most restrictive stretches of the statewide shutdown, for example, the crew at H.B. Woodsongs was hard at work building online options for their customers. The effort included creating an online inventory and delivery system so customers could access instruments, accessories and sheet music safely. They also shifted their music lesson series to an online format.

“We’ve used the slowdown as an opportunity to get an online presence going and build an online store,” Cupolo said. “We’ve had a lot of customers express gratitude that we’re here and providing the resource to make music, whether it’s offering lessons or helping people who need guitar strings,” he said, adding that connecting young players with resources holds a personal significance. “I was raised by a music teacher, and I still meet people who had him as a teacher who tell me about the impact he had on their lives.”

School of Rock specializes in teaching young students the basics of rock instrumentation but also places a premium on the value of performance. (Photo courtesy: School of Rock).

Connecting young people with the power of musical expression also holds an important place for Jennifer Moriarta, owner and general manager of the School of Rock franchise in Broomfield. The music school specializes in teaching young students the basics of rock instrumentation (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, etc.), but also places a premium on the value of performance. Before the pandemic, the Broomfield location presented regular concerts featuring bands composed of its students.

The past four months have definitely upended the school’s customary approach to instruction and performance, but Moriarta explained that students and teachers alike have found creative ways to keep making music. Lessons and performances have gone online, and students are slowly returning to the physical space as they observe strict safety measures. Plans for outdoor, socially distanced concerts are also in the works for the coming months.

“Our core group is middle and high school students. We give them a place where they can express themselves and where they can use music to work through their angsty years. It’s very powerful,” Moriarta said. “Now, after all this isolation, it’s become even more important. Everybody is going through a lot of ups and downs; to have an outlet where you can be around people and create art together is therapeutic for a lot of people.

“We have a ton of fun,” she added.

By Adam Goldstein, for Raised in the Rockies