MANCHESTER - Manchester Music Store had been located at 4732 Main Street for the past 15 months, but recently owner Mark Harding moved the store - to the basement of 4732 Main Street.

"It's a much bigger space," said Harding. "There is more room for education things... and expanding my inventory."

The store currently employs three instrument teachers - Harding teaching all styles of bass and guitar, Ken Baker teaching piano, Jake Geppert of the Bondville Boys teaching a manner of folk instruments, and Bob Vacca of Sage City teaching drums.

Moving downstairs in the building has given them more room to work with, and even add more curriculum.

"In the fall...starting about three weeks into the school year...

Mark Harding, the owner of the Manchester Music Store, features an array of instruments in his store, from guitars to brass instruments, to amplification,
Mark Harding, the owner of the Manchester Music Store, features an array of instruments in his store, from guitars to brass instruments, to amplification, in additional to providing instrument lessons. (Mary Redstone Photo)
we're going to have a Rock School," Harding said. "I will be offering evening group experience for kids about the age of 11 to 18... and the idea will be that rather than come in for a private lesson... they will come in and be tutored as a band, but not in a traditional school band sense, but as a rock band."

This is not the first time that Harding has instructed a group of students to operate as a rock band; he previously taught in high schools and instructed at summer camps.

"After a time, you can put on a concert with these kids," he said, "and they get the experience of playing within a well-structured group environment." Harding explained that with this approach they can work with students on different levels, and that all the participants thoroughly enjoy the experience.


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He has not begun the process of signups, however, but anticipates doing so in the coming weeks.

As well as having room for more instruction, Harding said that they plan to expand their inventory to include more of what they already have as well as stocking new items.

"We want to expand our used and vintage items," he said, adding that they are also looking to begin stocking vintage memorabilia, what Harding considers "vintage cool items."

He mentioned that he would be willing to take a look at any vintage items that someone would be willing to sell to him or place on consignment; however, he said that isn't looking to stock records.

"Most of what we have is new," he said, "only about 30 percent is used."

Harding is an authorized dealer of Vox amplifiers, Lag guitars, and Korg pianos.

"I got Vox amps for two reasons," Harding said. "First, I have played them and I trust them. Second is that they're coming back - that 60s sound." Harding also occasionally has unique instruments that stand out from the rest.

"I just sold a guitar signed by John Cougar Mellencamp last weekend," he said. The guitar sold for around $300, and Harding explained that the price was mostly due to the value of the autograph and not the guitar itself.

If it isn't enough that Harding teaches and sells instruments in his store, he also repairs guitars at a small workbench in the store.

"I do small repairs - restringing, small cracks, minor electric work," he said, "on either new or old instruments."

Harding's background in music extends back to when he attended Berklee College of Music in his late 20s. At the same time he was doing coursework for the college, online and during the summer, he was hired by Long Trail School.

He was then hired by Mount Saint Joseph School as a part-time, then full-time, teacher. Four years later, he left to open up Manchester Music Store. In the meantime, Harding plays music with a variety of bands, including solo acoustic guitar and duets for weddings, at a variety of locations in the area.

"If there is a venue I haven't played at, I would be surprised," he said. "I never stop playing, basically."

The store is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For lesson inquiries, and other questions, call the store at (802) 367-1067.