A lifelong devotion to the love of music drives the success of a Rio Grande Valley business that has shared that passion for more than four decades.
“Everything we do and continue to do flows from our love and passion for music and music education,” said Matt Perez, president and chief executive officer of Valley Keyboards of McAllen. His wife, Debra, manages the education department of the company, which is a cornerstone of the business.
“I was fortunate to be able to start Valley Keyboards with lots and lots of enthusiasm and even more ignorance,” Perez said.
“They say that if things are impossible, they are easier to do if you don’t know they are impossible to do in the first place. So, you go ahead and do them.”
Hard work has paid off in building a successful business and then gaining recognition from the Yamaha Corporation of America. Yamaha, which Perez believes makes the highest quality of pianos available, awarded Valley Keyboards with its 2018 Dealer of the Year award for the south central region.
The soft-spoken Perez offers a gentle smile and acknowledges the award with humility, preferring to give the lion’s share of credit for the success of Valley Keyboards to music.
“I believe our mission as educators and music retailers is to give people something meaningful, something beautiful that they didn’t know they were missing in their lives,” said Perez.
“I have always had the belief that real service, in terms of our business, comes from giving people something that can’t be bought or measured with money.”
The Valley Keyboards showroom is filled with an impressive array of standard pianos, digital pianos and organs manufactured by Yamaha, as well as other brands like Lowrey, Roland and Pearl River.
Some models are the modern version of player pianos. The old paper rolls have given way to an internet connection to sync with videos of actual performances. The user can watch the artist as the piano itself plays the notes and melodies.
In addition to the display floor, there are two classrooms for group lessons and several private lessons rooms. Valley Keyboards has a team of eight teachers who use a widely acclaimed music curriculum for both children and adults. The lessons were developed by Debra Perez and Will Baily.
“Debra and her co-author have developed and published a remarkable piano curriculum. It will help anyone learn to play the piano quickly and easily through a fun, non-stressful class,” Perez said. “This curriculum for adults and kids is an amazing way to get people making music in a group fashion. It’s like playing in a piano band. The curriculum is being taught all over the country.”
For generations, piano lessons have been part of growing up for so many children, yet Perez said the fastest growing demographic for Valley Keyboards’ education efforts are adults.
“Dreams of making music don’t have an expiration date. With the right method, with the right coach, anyone can play. I believe to make music is our God-given birthright.”
Valley Keyboards, which also operates a sister store, The Piano Gallery in Corpus Christi, places a high value on giving back to the community by helping the Valley Symphony Orchestra and music educators throughout Deep South Texas. Just last month, the business donated a piano to the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “I live with the philosophy that you do good by being good,” Perez said. “You do something good, it’s going to come back.”
But just like with any business, Valley Keyboards has faced challenges to remain relevant and successful. Ever-increasing options in a modern technological age are competing for the time of children and adults. Perez said it becomes even more important to stress the business’ core values.
“One of the challenges that we have is educating young parents on the value of music and arts education for kids,” he said. “Also for people that have never experienced music before. If you approach that with a spirit of helpfulness, with a servant’s heart, then you are really not selling somebody something, you are helping them. And we happen to be giving music, which is goodness.”