TROY — To Trojan City Music owner, music is more than art: it’s life.
“I’m a recovered addict, and music is one of those things that I could always take pride in, through good times and bad, and it connected me with people. I don’t know what my life would be without it,” Trojan City Music owner and manager, John Hendry said. “I was the stereotypical troubled juvenile delinquent — and music was my therapy.” At 15 or 16, a friend asked Hendry to sing in a band. After being shown some chords, Hendry borrowed the guitar and amp, playing at home, creating a space where the world ceased being an “angry, scary place.”
Poet and playwright William Congreve wrote, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” (meaning heart). Over time, the line became popularized after changing the last word to “beast.’”
Hendry is an example of how one musician’s journey through life exposed him to an amazing range of musical styles and artists’ influences that he later turned into a business.
“I have a very eclectic mix of music influences, from Neil Young to Pantera. My parents are both old hippies, and when I was five years old, they bought me Def Leopard’s “Pyromania.” I played it until the tape broke. After that, I raided my mom’s folk rock collection of Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young,” Hendry said. “I went on to be an angsty, punk rock and metal kid — and Pantera is one of my loves — playing that kind of music for a long time. These days, I’ve mellowed out into some rock and roll, grabbing my acoustic guitar and an amp, sitting down for a few hours and playing Johnny Cash.”
Then Hendry had the chance to share his love of music and the good it can do. Hendry opened Trojan City Music at 106 East Main St. in Troy in 2017 and started music lesson studios in 2018. It is now the only full-service music store in a 35-mile radius, serving customers in Sidney, Piqua, Tipp City, West Milton, Covington, Pleasant Hill, St. Paris, Christiansburg, Urbana, and Vandalia.
Due to his own experiences, getting instruments into the hands of interested young people is important to Hendry.
The store’s retail sales staff — Phil Doncaster and Caitlyn Harris, along with intern Kayla Auld — answer sales questions about purchasing a range of new instruments.
Through their affiliation with Kincaid’s is Music in Springfield, Trojan City Music provides band and orchestra instrument rentals to local school programs in Shelby, Clark, Miami, and Montgomery counties.
Many donated instruments are repaired and have gone to permanent homes with children who otherwise could not have afforded them. These included a Washburn acoustic guitar from an anonymous donor, an acoustic amp from Jeremy and Lynne Siegrist of The Typical Johnsons, a left-handed bass guitar from Julius Blair, and a Jackson Rhoads-style guitar from Chris Elliot of Omeni.
Exposing young people to live, adult music is often difficult, so the store doubles as an entertainment venue.
“All of the employees here are musicians in their own right that play in bands. The greater Dayton music scene may be one of the best-talented and most diverse across genres, of any music scene in the country,” said Hendry.
Nine staff members teach 200 students. Chris Aldridge teaches guitar, bass, and ukulele. David Brush is a vocal instructor. Dale Crockett focuses solely on guitar instruction. Tim Hobbs teaches guitar, bass, drums, and piano. Nicholas “Reece” Lincoln teaches guitar, bass, and ukulele. Tara Mar is an expert cello instructor. Leonore Palermo focuses on piano instruction. Rick Partida provides drum, band, and orchestra instrument instruction.
“A study from the University of British Columbia found that sustained musical education correlated with higher test scores in other subjects,” said Harris, a salesperson and pre-med student at Wright State. “Playing the drums might give you a leg up in math. There’s actually been a good deal of research into how learning to play music makes the brain better. In a 2005 NPR interview, a Stanford researcher, Keith Devlin, explained that musicians are able to distinguish between spoken syllables more quickly and more reliably than non-musicians.”
Hendry, though, did not need to hear the research. He has always known what music can do.
To reach Trojan City Music, call 937-335-2406 or visit them online at trojancitymusic.com.