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Lebanon Valley music man plays on

Annville Township-based Marty's Music Store has been serving the Lebanon Valley since 1946. Lee Moyer, pictured, assumed ownership in 1978. His son, David, now owns the store, but the 71-year-old remains the face of the business, performing across the area as Marty's One Man Band. Photo/Jason Scott
Annville Township-based Marty's Music Store has been serving the Lebanon Valley since 1946. Lee Moyer, pictured, assumed ownership in 1978. His son, David, now owns the store, but the 71-year-old remains the face of the business, performing across the area as Marty's One Man Band. Photo/Jason Scott

The framed photographs, random instruments and stacked CDs and cassette tapes in Lee Moyer's back office reflect memorable moments and a lifelong passion for music.

There is a Lebanon Valley College junior prom photo from 1961 featuring jazz musician Maynard Ferguson. Moyer graduated from Lebanon Valley in 1962.

There is a photo from 1969 that captures his days as a barbershop chorus director in Charlottesville, Va.

The musical collection goes from Willie Nelson to Chopin and Gershwin.

But don't think of Moyer as a music historian or someone living in the past.

The 71-year-old Lebanon County resident still is out in the community and across the region, playing his trumpet and keyboard and also singing the American classics or standards.

Moyer, who considers himself semi-retired, puts on about 20 musical programs every month. He plays to a lot of senior citizen groups and for special and seasonal events.

"It's good exposure (for the store)," Moyer said last week, prior to setting off for a senior center program in Lebanon.

The Gentleman of Jazz is the name across his keyboard. He also goes by Marty's One Man Band, a familiar title for a music man that's been a fixture at Marty's Music Store since 1970.

Marty's was started in downtown Lebanon in 1946 by local accordionist Marty Sorcsek. Moyer came on as manager and became sole owner in 1978.

"Music is just so important to the lives of people," Moyer said. "The older they get, it's the one thing they can hang on to."

Moyer is the primary marketing force behind the success at Marty's, which his son, David, has run since 1988 to give his father ample time to entertain.

"We are a name in everybody's family. We're a household name," said David. "My father made it grow."

In 2003, Marty's moved to its current location at 1245 E. Main St. (Route 422) in Annville Township. The store grew to about 12,000 square feet over two floors from about 6,000 in Lebanon. Sales also doubled with the move — about $1.6 million to $2 million annually, David said.

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The move cost about $1 million.

David also credits the store's success to reliability and strong customer service. Marty's is one of the largest guitar centers in Central Pennsylvania. Piano sales also are a key sales driver, he said.

In addition, the Lebanon Valley store offers full-service instrument repairs, rentals, lease-to-own, and it operates a popular music school. Marty's has six dedicated studio spaces that about 30 independently contracted music teachers rent for music lessons.

The store sees roughly 300 students every week, David said. Last year, Marty's logged more than 10,000 music lessons. Monthly recitals are held upstairs in a dedicated concert area of the building.

"We encourage preschool and senior citizens," he said about the music school side of the business.

For David, who doesn't play any instruments, the store has been a big part of his life. He said he hopes to continue building on its reputation.

Marty's carries Martin and Fender guitars, along with other top music labels. Video and audio equipment and installations are another big part of the business. Marty's is an exclusive Sony dealer.

The 47-year-old, who has a bachelor's degree in restaurant management, was working for Marriott in the Boston area before coming home to join his father.

"It's about the relationships we build with our customers," David said, citing regulars that have been patronizing the store for 30 and 40 years.

Sitting in his office working on a new project to honor local musicians, Lee expressed happiness about his chosen career path.

"It's fun. I enjoy connecting with the Facebook people," he said, also noting a desire to be the hub for area music events. "Every day is fun."

As a teenager, he played in a band that performed on Ron Drake's "Teen Time" television show and other local variety shows.

After graduating from Lebanon Valley College, where he majored in history and minored in music, Lee ended up as an investigator with the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Music was the side job.

He was a band director at a private school in Charlottesville before returning home to take the job at Marty's.

"I think you learn from going away," he said.

Lee has played with different local groups through the years, including the Lebanon Community Concert Band and Lebanon Big Swing Band.

He never had dreams of being famous as a recording artist, he said. He just enjoys entertaining.

"You try to bring this to them now, so they can relive their younger life," he said about playing for the older generations.

Lee said he has no plans of stopping as long as his health remains good.

"They say business people make their most significant contributions in the fifth, sixth and seventh decade of their life," he said.

Click here to hear Lee Moyer sing Dean Martin's "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."

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