Although 2020 has been perhaps the most challenging year for many in MI, there have been opportunities, especially when it comes to stay-at-home guitarists who have more time (and perhaps more money) available. With this in mind, how does the future look? We reached out to Skip Beltz, president, the Guitar & Accessories Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and Glen McCarthy, GAMA board member and executive director, Teaching Guitar Workshops (TGW), to learn more.
We started by asking about the changing landscape regarding guitar end users. Beltz responded that GAMA serves its members as best as it can with the resources it has. “Thankfully, NAMM contributes to help our GAMA cause and that is mainly our Teaching Guitar Workshops,” said Beltz. “Outside of TGW, we try to be ambassadors to the music industry by helping to connect MI people to each other through our communications and ongoing efforts to bring other great organizations that help guitar players to light and do what we can together. This recent time has been hard for all of us in the MI industry and we have tried to overcome the changes in our environments and provide solutions like the rest of the industry has.”
Looking to programs GAMA will offer in 2021, Beltz first recalled its successful programs this year. “We offered our TGW classes this year virtually, and it was a glowing success,” he said. “We plan to transition into next year with similar and improved plans in case we can’t have in- person classes next year. We are lucky to have smart, enthusiastic industry veterans on our board [of directors] that are very resourceful. We overcame this year with a great solution and like many, will continue with our eyes open to opportunities and changes that will keep us evolving.
Added McCarthy, “TGW is developing sites for the summer of 2021. Although nothing is certain, we are scheduling and plan to hold ‘live and in-person’ classes. The energy that is in a classroom cannot be replicated in a Zoom meeting. TGW found the virtual classes implemented in summer 2020 were successful and that format will continue. It is a good option for teachers that prefer to not be in a classroom. Whether live or virtual, taking a TGW gives resources for teachers to start a guitar program and/or expand an established program. Teaching Guitar Workshops (TGW) information can be found here: https://www.guitaredunet.org/about-2/.
Despite difficult times, GAMA’s main goals will not change significantly. “Our main goal is to bring together and grow the guitar community by promoting greater access to learning and playing guitar,” stated Beltz. “We want to serve the guitar community and be a resource. We also want to create a space where, for a short time, we can talk together about our main objective and that is helping guitar players.”
Without most trade shows taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult for trade groups to get the word out. However, Beltz said word-of-mouth is working, as are interviews in trade publications like the Music & Sound Retailer, as well as making sure the latest information can be found at its www.discoverguitar.com and www.guitaredunet.org websites.
We concluded by looking forward. Is GAMA optimistic for what we hope is a post-COVID 19 era? “Yes, we are,” Beltz relayed. “As with any other issue, we have to be resilient and force positive change. The MI industry recognized ways to operate in spite of this pandemic. It opened up opportunities that we may not otherwise have gotten a platform to so with such quickness. We turned to technology to help spreading music, live music online. It was already happening and it became a main way of music expression through this time. An opportunity. Make the most of it.”
To read more from the Music & Sound Retailer, click here.