New shop hopes to create a community for musicians
Ron Charlesworth will have the official opening of his Healdsburg music store on Thursday, but what he really wants to create is a community.
The bassist, drummer and teacher said he hopes the new Speed of Sound on Healdsburg Avenue will be a place for professional and amateur musicians to hang out, learn and play music together.
“I do want it to be a gathering place of sorts,” says Charlesworth, 44. “I saw a need in this area for a store that caters to people who play and want to learn to play music or just get better at their craft.”
Speed of Sound opened unofficially in November, offering lessons to all levels of musicians on instruments that include guitar, drums, bass, piano and voice. Charlesworth also will sell some instruments, equipment, accessories such as guitar strings and, eventually, reeds for wood instruments.
Early in his career, Charlesworth worked as a drummer, including a stint with RCA Records artist Ty England, appearing with his band in concert and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He has also worked a variety of “support” jobs in the music industry, including a long stint as a bus driver for bands on tour, including Joe Strummer and John Hiatt.
“I was always one of those musicians who was never afraid to work at other jobs when I wasn’t playing,” he says. “The years I worked driving the tour bus were a lot of fun.”
Charlesworth also teaches adults with disabilities in a special program in Novato twice a week, and says he will slowly be adding to the services at his store. He now offers four programs: for young music students 5-9, for intermediate to advanced students who want to improve their skills, for the casual player who wants to rediscover an old instrument or take up a new one, and for musicians who want an intense introduction to playing music.
The programs vary in price from $130 to $240 a month and include several monthly lessons and one or two chances a month to sit in on what Charlesworth calls “collective sessions,” in which musicians with similar skill levels get together and jam. He says these group sessions most excite him about his new shop.
“You can take what we teach you and go home and work on it on your own, and that’s one thing,” he says. “But you really don’t understand it all until you play with other musicians. It’s like learning a new language, and that’s the experience we want people to have.”