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Farewell to Silver Spring’s Dale Music

March 11, 2014

Say “Farewell” to Silver Spring’s venerable sheet music emporium Dale Music and pick up souvenirs at sale prices.

I can’t really read music, but I do know that a thick vertical line at the end of a measure means the song has come to its end. Well, it’s almost time to draw that line on Dale Music.

“I’m going to be 70 in June, and I said to myself, ‘What should I do?’ ” said owner Carol Warden, whose parents, David and Rhoda Burchuk, opened Dale Music in 1950.

The last few years have not been easy for the store. Nearby construction made it hard for customers to park, Carol said. And many people prefer to order sheet music online — or photocopy it illegally.

“The world is changing and I’m not smart enough to run an Internet company,” Carol said. “So we’re going to close.”

Carol has sold the building. (“That’s why I’m able to retire,” she said.) Dale Music will close on June 30. Carol expects the whole block will be torn down. In its place will be something big and multi-use, another example of Silver Spring’s rebirth, but a rebirth that is not without its cost.

The store took its name from Dale Drive, a Silver Spring street Carol said her father thought was “gorgeous. He didn’t like the sound of ‘Dave’s Music.’ ”
It sells musical instruments and offers music lessons but is best known for its encyclopedic collection of sheet music, everything from pop hits to serious symphonic and choral works. Many a church choir director has thumbed through the offerings.

That’s a tactile experience the Web doesn’t offer. Carol is disgusted by shoddy sheet music, flimsy paper that tears easily, its staffs and notes barely legible from poor printing or multiple reproduction.

“Whereas if you look at a Bärenreiter or a Henle edition or a Breitkopf, it’s something you can own for 50 years,” she said of quality imprints. “The paper won’t degenerate. You can erase on it. It’s well bound. It’s a pleasure to play from.”

Carol said she can’t understand today’s shoppers. “I have to go in and look around the store and feel the fabric and try on the shoes. But people just buy online. I worry about there not being places that I want to go shop in.”

For the next few months at least, you can shop at Dale Music. “We’re having a great big sale,” Carol said, which should be music to a lot of ears.
(John Kelly, The Washington Post)

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