The Ellis Music Story

Richard Ellis

Ellis Music Company dates back to 1946, when company founder Richard (Dick) Ellis began acquiring instruments for his own students, who lived in rural communities miles from the nearest music store. The modest business that he began expanded to become the region's most trusted source for instrument rentals, sales, and repair services.

Mr. Ellis grew up in South Royalton, Vt. He started a dance band while still a student at South Royalton High School, performing regularly at local grange halls and other venues. Though he desired a career in music, the high school guidance counselor advised against it, saying that it wasn’t possible to make a living through music in Vermont. He subsequently attended the University of Vermont, taking courses in engineering. Mr. Ellis worked for a brief time as an engineer but quickly realized that his passion for music was not being satisfied.

For two years during the swing era, Mr. Ellis toured as a saxophonist with the Mal Hallett Big Band. He turned down an offer to play baritone sax in Gene Krupa’s band, choosing instead to return to Vermont and become a music teacher.

He enrolled as a brass student at the New England Conservatory, learning to play the instruments he couldn’t and taking as many courses as possible while still performing by night. Mr. Ellis was employed as the instrumental music teacher in Rochester, Bethel, Randolph, and South Royalton for many years, forming a band in each school. He also taught music lessons privately, renting instruments for $1 or $2 per week. With no music stores in the area, Mr. Ellis had to order instruments from music stores located in cities outside Vermont.

combined bands

Eventually, the music teachers in neighboring towns began asking Mr. Ellis to get instruments and supplies for them, and Ellis Music Company was started. Eventually Mr. Ellis stopped teaching in public schools so he could devote more time to his growing business enterprise.

The Ellis family residence doubled as company headquarters until 1988, when Ellis Music Company moved into its current 7,200-square-foot facility, which houses a showroom, offices, repair shop, and warehouse.

Richard and Polly Ellis

Richard Ellis retired in 1989, transferring operation of the business to three of his children. He continued to be involved with the company until his death in 2015. Today, with a staff of approximately twenty employees, Ellis Music Company continues to operate under the direction of the Ellis family, adhering to its founding principles: support music in the region with affordable, quality instruments, reliable repair work, and outstanding customer service.