Music store brings harmony to local family

Photo by Cathy B. KoplenFred Cleveland talks to Julia Goff on Thursday as Ruth Cleveland talks to a customer on the telephone at The Eighth Note music store in Oneonta.

Music is the international language, and for those passionate about the music that they play, The Eighth Note on South Main Street has been in downtown Oneonta serving music-lovers for 44 years.

“We do it all — you name it, and if it has to do with music, we do it,” said Eighth Note co-owner Ruth Cleveland. “That is how we have been able to stay in business all these years. My husband repairs pianos, we rent and sell instruments, and we have people who teach music in the building.”

Fred and Ruth Cleveland are Oneonta natives. They met, married, and raised a family in Oneonta. They work together with their son, Chris, in the music industry.

“We love what we do,” Ruth Cleveland said. “We have been in three locations since we opened in 1971 — all three locations you can see from here. We prefer downtown. We are bringing our son into the business, not that either of us want to retire, but — God forbid — if anything should happen to us, we really want the business to continue.”

On Thursday, Julia Goff came into The Eighth Note looking for advice on a musical instrument for her daughter. Ruth and Fred Cleveland both discussed the options for rental and purchase with Goff.

“All four of my children are into band instruments,” Goff said. “My daughter is in fourth grade, and this is when they get to choose an instrument. She wants to play flute.”

The options available at The Eighth Note included a rental agreement or a purchase plan. The music store has partnered with Music and Arts, an online music rental company that provides musical instruments for rent to students participating in school orchestras and bands.

A recent development in the services provided by The Eighth Note includes a school of music, in which classrooms are designated to private instructors who specialize in certain instruments, the space to teach.

“I am so excited about our new music school,” Ruth Cleveland said. “We knocked out a concrete wall to add these classrooms. Each room is specific to the instructor and the instruments those instructors teach. We also have voice lessons available.”

One of the instructors, David Wheatley, who gives private lessons on several different band instruments, was waiting for a pupil Thursday. In his lesson room, there were several instruments in various states of repair.

“I fix band instruments too,” Wheatley said. “I have been doing this for a long time. I can fix pretty much anything within reason. My instrument is the trombone. I have been playing for about 47 years. I was a band teacher at Medina Middle School. In 1986, we had such a good budget for band. My first year teaching my fourth graders took first place at the state competition. I have taken bands to Washington to compete in nationals, but one of the most interesting things we did when I taught band, was when Coca-Cola paid us to go down to Atlanta to sing happy birthday to Coca-Cola. Now, I teach anyone who wants to learn, from a ... beginner who has never had a lesson, to an accomplished performer.”

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