Since elementary school, I’ve been taking piano lessons at Patrick’s Music School, an independent cooperative of experienced music teachers conducting weekly lessons and classes in all styles of music. Currently located on the corner of Commonwealth and Woods Avenue, the family-owned business has been a part of the Fullerton community since it first opened its doors in 1972.
This year, they are celebrating over 50 years of music instruction. I recently had a chance to interview Ann Patrick Green, Principal of Patrick’s Music School, and Heather Patrick Orozco, Vice Principal, about their earliest musical memories, how the school has changed over the years, and how their business has given back to the community. Ann and Heather have always been interested in music. Ann remembers begging her mother to take piano lessons from the age of five. However, her mother couldn’t afford to buy her one, so she practiced on her grandmother’s piano. Eventually, her mother bought her the musical instrument that would kickstart her career in music, leading her to eventually study at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. She started Patrick’s Music School after moving from Colorado to California in 1972 with her husband, who was a robotics engineer.
“He ran the business side, and I was a pianist,” she said. “So I was in charge of the music lessons part of the business.”
She remembered that the business was originally a pilot school for the Yamaha Music Program. Patrick’s Music School was located in a Sunny Hills shopping center, a location which is now a part of St. Jude Heritage Medical Center. At the time, the business was a large establishment that included a music school, a large music print selection, pianos, organs, and band instruments supplied to local school districts, including Fullerton.
One of Heather’s earliest memories of music school was when her family bought a bright red caboose. She remembers sitting at the county fair up on a pedestal playing the Fun Machine organ to introduce people to an alternative to playing the piano.
“My parents purchased an actual caboose,” said Heather. “We would travel around town, and we went to local county fairs, schools, and other events to promote the music school. So that is a great fond memory I have of driving around in a truck towing a bright red caboose.”
“I just grew up in the music school,” she said. “So every day after school, we would go to the business and help. I did some of the worst jobs, cleaning the instruments and cleaning the rooms, but I also did some of the better jobs of customer service by learning how to handle the register and help people.”
Her family’s music company was eventually relocated because they couldn’t compete with the Internet and big business. In early 1996, the store chose to stop selling merchandise and to limit the business to music lessons only. Today, they offer lessons both in-person and virtual for a wide variety of instruments, including the piano, guitar, violin, voice, flute, ukulele, and drums.
Patrick’s Music School has not only provided lessons but has given back to the community by offering free performances at many locations, including the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Nixon Presidential Library, and Fullerton Public Library. In fact, they were one of the original locations for Night in Fullerton, an arts celebration that occurred once a year.
According to Ann, she has “been a member of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM); the National Guild for Music Teachers as a member, as an adjudicator, and as a host for yearly evaluations; the Music Teachers Association of California – Orange County as a teacher member and leading officer; the Fullerton Soroptimist organization as a member and officer; the national music fraternity called Sigma Alpha Iota as a member and leading officer.”
She has also coordinated the free Sunday Concert series at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. Heather explained that there is a lot of research that has been done in support of playing a musical instrument. “Enriching your life with music has a huge impact on emotional and social well-being,” she said. “It has also been proven scientifically over and over to exercise your brain and has a big impact on learning for both children and adults.”
“My favorite part of teaching music is sharing my joy of music, connecting with people, and sharing my knowledge and expertise,” said Ann. “I’ve discovered, through years of teaching experience, a new and innovative way to provide music instruction; I created my own method books and copyrighted them ten years later.”
Ann Patrick Green has been teaching piano for over 50 years in the City of Fullerton. She has also taught classes at both Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton. Heather Patrick Orozco has been teaching for over 35 years. Many of their students have joined bands and continued studying music at the university level. Most continue to enjoy playing music long after their lessons are over, and that is the goal of the studio, to teach the joy of music.