Silver Spring mecca of music to close on June 30 -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. on June 18, 2014.

There comes a time when the music must turn off. For Dale Music, store in Silver Spring, the farewell will be June 30.

Owner Carol Warden is selling everything: sheet music for Mozart, Broadway selections, wedding collections, top 40 artists and anything else on display — even the empty file cabinets.

The store is best known for its collection of sheet music, but also sells or rent musical instruments.

“One of the things that makes us so unusual in this store is the vast quantity of sheet music that we’ve carried. ... The other thing is the museum collection of musical instruments that is in the store,” Warden said.

Her parents, David and Rhoda Burchuk, opened Dale Music in 1950. David was a music educator, conductor and musicologist who moved to Maryland from Philadelphia.

Warden recalled: “My mother one day said, ‘Why don’t you start your music store?’ Kind of as a joke. And six months later, he said, ‘Were you serious about starting a music store?’”

Diamondback Investors LLC, a Bethesda company, bought the property from Warden for $1.7 million.

Warden hopes to be out by the end of July. Until then, all sheet music is 50 percent off and all choral and organ music is 60 percent off. There also are discounts on instruments. The store will be open the next two Sundays — June 22 and 29 — from noon until 5 p.m. for special sales.

The Internet changed everything. Warden has tried to hire people to help her, but an attempt at becoming an Internet music store hasn’t worked.

Warden said there are few stores like Dale Music left in the country.

She said most people want to buy their music over the Internet.

“I don’t think there will ever be another Dale Music. People don’t shop like that anymore,” she said.

Stepping into the store is like being immersed in a library or museum. There are cabinets filled with sheet music of all kinds — country, folk, classic, pop.

In the back, customers navigate through other sheet-music departments — such as band and orchestra, choral and organ — or visit the private lesson studios upstairs.

Behind a glass door, in one of the store’s cabinets, sits a collection of clarinets. Some date to the 1800s. Warden said they are not “playable,” but could be great for a collection.

Across from the clarinets is a wall filled with African, Australian, Chinese and European instruments.

Warden hopes to sell everything.

She said the store has 12 employees, including some who work part-time. In the past, there has been as many as 24.

Until the closing date, Ed Hardy, 73, is still working at the front of the store, helping people find what they are looking for — even if all they can do is hum the melody.

“It is the ear,” said Hardy, who has been working in the store for 41 years.

Most of all, he and his colleagues will miss the people who walk in every day.

“They are a lot of fun coming in and trying to figure out what they want. They never know what they want,” Hardy said.

When he is retired, he won’t stay home and lounge. “I have to do something,” he said.

Some customers were visiting the store for the final time this week.

“This is my last trip,” said Cora Bruner, a pianist who came to buy sheet music for a friend.

“I just like the ambience, the people, getting what you need, finding things,” she said.

Warden is looking forward to retirement.

During an interview, a few people walked in the store and asked what she’s planning to do next. Warden enthusiastically spoke about the places she hoped to visit, such as Antarctica, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, China and Japan.

“And that’s just the beginning,” she said.