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You can still hear old-time band performances on summer nights on the historic square in downtown Corydon, where the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand stands in tribute to a beloved hometown band leader who inherited not only his musical talents from his father, but the family music business as well.

Nearby is the showroom of that business, founded as Conrad & Son Piano Co. by C.W. Conrad and son Claude in 1890. Headed by Hurley Conrad from 1925, the second generation of the store saw an expansion of its wares from pianos to a full line of band and orchestral instruments.

In 1960, the baton was handed to Hurley's twin sons Charlie and Paul. Incorporated as Conrad Music Service in 1960, "Kentuckiana's No. 1 Band and Orchestra School Dealer" is the 4th oldest family owned music store in the U.S.

"We've specialized in different types of musical instruments depending on the current trend," says Charlie Conrad (brother Paul retired in 1997).

While there used to be a piano in every home, digital keyboards are more prominent today. The last piano left the Conrad showroom in 1997.

"Part of our survival for so many years is trying to stay ahead of trends and developing our clientele through music advocacy," says Conrad, a former band director and trumpet player himself.

In the 1950's, the store started calling on schools, helping with musical recruitment and offering sales, rentals, and repairs. Now visiting an average of 100 schools per week in 10 counties in Indiana, and as many in Kentucky, each year the Harrison County store readies up to 3,000 instruments to send into the hands of aspiring musicians at the start of school.

With 14 full time employees, Conrad still enjoys actively relating to the students, and is proud to have played a part in inspiring over 100,000 of them to join music programs over the years.

"Music is now seen as more than an extracurricular activity, but as a valid part of education," he notes. "Research has shown that music lessons can imporve spatial reasoning, math, and academic scores."

"We believe in that. We believe music is a life-enriching activity. It's not just business."

Conrad's philosophy is a testament to his commitment to his work. "A big part of our business is recruiting kids into a better life."

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