The Alton School District has partnered with Halpin Music to repair instruments

ALTON — Parents and guardians may think they know what they need to know when it comes to the Alton School District, but sometimes there’s a deeper level of “informed,” as most parents and guardians of the district’s band members understand .

This is certainly true when it comes to keeping orchestras in which students play in good condition and ready to go.

“It’s less common here, but it’s always a cool thing to do repairs and coordinate with multiple school districts,” said Philip Waits, who works in sales and is an apprentice instrument repairer at Halpin Music Co., which offers a full service, Alton Institution.

“We serve a number of schools,” said Waits, who worked at the store about 10 years ago and recently returned.

“We go to a lot of schools every week, do repairs, help with rentals, which is a big part of what we do, so kids can try out an instrument and see if they like it, play it and do it long enough to eventually buy it.”

Halpin’s rental program is extremely popular, including with the Alton Marching 100.

“I was just talking to a technician recently, and a student came in with a clarinet that they got off the Internet and it wasn’t the right size,” Waits recalls, “and no matter what he did with that clarinet, he would never hit the right note.”

Affordable technicians

Waits credits the air and attitude of the technicians at Halpin Music for the success of keeping and maintaining many of the Marching 100 instruments. Technicians Tim Whitesell, who has worked for Halpin for 51 years, and Ben Davis complement each other, Waits noted.

Nowadays, Whitesell works a few days a week, while Davis works more full-time.

“Everybody has their own taste and kind of specialty,” Waites said.

Whitesell worked in Halpin’s former longtime office, Homer Adams, and moved with the business.

The music institution moved to its current location six years ago. Halpin Music offers retail, instrument rental and repair, and lessons.

“Halpin Music Company is very excited about our new home,” Halpin Music co-owner Mark Landon said at the time. He owns the business with Brock Hermens.

The couple has owned Halpin Music, the former building built and opened by the Halpin family in 1977, since 1995. The business is moving to 88 North Port Drive, off US Highway 67 in the North Port Commercial Development in Alton.

“This place is great; it’s like a family,” Waits said. “The things they do with the community and the schools is a big thing that drew me back, the camaraderie.”

All about making music

Halpin Music sells guitars as well as amplifiers, digital pianos and portable keyboards.

“This was my first job as a young student at SIUE,” said Landon, of Alton. “I ended up staying here. I just wanted to make some money during college and took the job.”

Landon plays the tuba he’s been playing since high school and the bass guitar he picked up while working at Halpin. He has been playing in a school band since the fifth grade.

“Education is very important,” Landon said.

Halpin Music has spacious lesson rooms, a service area, a ‘commons’ area for school music and a showroom/recital hall/professional sound demo room.

Halpin Music has an intense focus on school music, which is a major focus of what the business offers. Its service to school music programs in Alton and surrounding communities provides products and services that music educators need.

“We have education representatives who go out and visit our music teacher clients every week. It’s something we’ve always done,” Landon said.

“This is very valuable to our customers because they have a big enough job. Our job is to bring our store to them, which makes it logistically easier than them coming to us. It’s certainly grown in the sense that school music is a much bigger part of our business for sure.”

Landon said Halpin will continue to be a destination for parents who want to get everything they need for their school musician in one place.

For more information, call Halpin Music at 618-462-0666, visit or follow its Facebook page. Halpin Music also has a location in Centralia at 139 Locust Street and that phone number is 618-532-8512.

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