As one can easily deduce from walking down Main Street on a late-summer night, there’s no question that music is a big part of the New Paltz scene. There seems to be live music coming from every corner. Anyone with an instrument can sign up for an open mic session, and starting this week just about anyone will be able to get their hands on an affordable musical instrument. That’s because the New Paltz Instrument Library will be opening on September 15.
The musical instrument library is the brainchild of Tyler Beatrice, owner of Root Note Music Shop, which has occupied one of the front windows at 58 Main Street since October 2011.
“I’d heard of a library loaning ukuleles,” he explained. Something similar could fulfill a need he saw in New Paltz, the ability to try out an instrument without having to invest in buying one. With an annual fee of $50 – “less than the cost of Netflix” – library members will be able to check out any instrument from his inventory that is tagged for borrowing, plus any that are donated by community members especially for that purpose. The price is not yet fixed, but he currently thinks $50 is the price point to be affordable but not an outright losing proposition.
Instruments can be expensive, and thus there are rules. Members must be at least 18 years old, agree to pay for repairs needed beyond normal wear and tear, and leave a valid credit card on file in case that situation arises. Beatrice will take care of regular maintenance such as changing strings, he said. Instruments will be available for periods of a week or two, depending upon popularity and rarity. For starters, he plans to make available a selection of guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, drums and violins. He also is considering adding a sitar to the mix.
In time, Beatrice would like to see his brainchild grow into a community-supported program. He’ll take instrument donations so long as they’re usable, and said he’d particularly like to see trumpets and saxophones.
“I don’t look at this as a business venture,” he said. He sees band members borrowing a mandolin to lay down a track for their next album, students borrowing something unfamiliar to decide if they want to learn to play it, and some needy soul popping in to grab a drum for the circle forming up around the corner. This part of lower Main Street is a hub, he thinks, and the library would just be adding to that New Paltz scene. “It’s kind of a social experiment.” He’d also like to add microphones and stands to the selection.
Beatrice already refers those interested in learning a new instrument to the Hudson Valley Music Collection, a group of local musicians who conduct classes at all levels and facilitate jam sessions. The launching of the instrument library could sweep away one barrier to entry into the vibrant musical soundscape of life in New Paltz. The instrument library will keep the same hours as Root Note: noon to six, Tuesday through Saturday.