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Music House Inc. Expanding Into West Town

By Justin Breen | October 28, 2013 7:08am
 Music House Inc., a West Rogers Park music school that has been owned by the Trumbo family since 1985, is expanding to West Town later this year.
Music House Inc.
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WEST ROGERS PARK — Richard Trumbo likes to describe music as magic.

"It's a wave that travels through the air, enters the ear of a person and changes their chemistry until they have a big smile on their face," Trumbo said.

Trumbo has been creating musical smiles since 1985, when he bought Music House Inc., a school at 2925 W. Devon Ave. that teaches people of all ages — but mostly children — how to play a variety of instruments.

On Friday, Trumbo is signing a lease that will expand the business into a 1,900-square-foot building at 1018 N. California Ave. in West Town.

"Very, very excited," said Trumbo, 57, a Foreman High School and Northeastern Illinois University graduate. "I am somewhat accustomed to taking risks, and I believe that you have to live on the edge to move forward."

 A recital led by Richard Trumbo from 1995 at Music House Inc. in West Rogers Park. The Trumbo family has owned Music House Inc. since 1985, and the business is expanding to West Town later this year.
A recital led by Richard Trumbo from 1995 at Music House Inc. in West Rogers Park. The Trumbo family has owned Music House Inc. since 1985, and the business is expanding to West Town later this year.
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Ashley Trumbo

The business will remain in the family as Trumbo's younger daughter, Ashley, 25 of Humboldt Park, will run the West Town location.

"A lot of people have dead-end jobs, and they go home and listen to music as their salvation," said Ashley, a Whitney Young Magnet High School and University of Iowa alum. "Music isn't my escape; it's my drive. I enjoy sharing what I've learned with little kids."

Trumbo's older daughter, Allison, 28 of Humboldt Park, also inherited her love of music from Richard, who wanted to teach music since attending Carlos Santana and Jethro Tull concerts at the Chicago Stadium when he was 15.

Richard can play the flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar and piano, and he's learning how to strum the ukulele and jarana jarocha. Allison has proficiency in violin, piano, ukulele and xylophone, while Ashley plays the violin, banjo and cello.

Allison works full-time designing instructional programs at an education publication company, but the Ukrainian Village resident also teaches several classes for Music House.

"The No. 1 thing is, I am teaching students how to practice something, and it's not really about music but how to dedicate time toward something, how to set goals and how to realize goals," said Allison, a Northside College Prep and University of Illinois at Chicago grad. "If you know how to practice music correctly, you can practice anything correctly."

Allison has taught Cary Nowacki, 10, to play the violin for the last three years. Cary said the lessons have given him confidence, and Allison also has made learning "fun."

"I can make sounds that don't sound nutty now," Cary said. "Music is a challenge. I feel good because I get to move onto the next songs, which are harder, and then I know I'm moving up and getting better."

Ashley and Allison are thrilled Music House, which attracts students from throughout the North and Northwest sides, is moving permanently into their neighborhoods, which they said are filled with young families.

"It's the perfect location, and it's something for our daughters," said their mother, Jeanne Trumbo, an Immaculata High School and NEIU alum, who was pregnant with Allison when the Trumbos bought the West Rogers Park business. "We're trying to grow a music community there because it's our new home."

Richard said Music House serves about 400 families and has hundreds of private students. Music House also offers scholarships and doesn't "turn away any requests ... based on hardship and income," Richard said.

The company also runs several after-school programs at CPS elementary schools. Some of those schools — Drummond Montessori, Skinner West Classical, A.N. Pritzker and Suder Montessori — are located near Music House's new locale.

"It's like we're starting the second generation of Music House," Allison said.