Music Teachers & Schools
Today, it is rare for a musician to make a living by only playing music. This was also true 100 years ago. Even those who led some of the most popular bands of the day had to supplement their incomes. In 1890, there were nine private music teachers listed in the Elmira directory. By 1910, that number had grown to 58. Individuals offered piano, violin, and band instrument lessons. Teaching music allowed widows or unmarried women to earn a respectable income. Businesses like the Knapp School of Music offered music instruction along with instrument sales.
Georgianna Palmer was just 15 years old when she started teaching piano lessons. In 1906, she became a member of the faculty of the Corning Conservatory of Music. As her list of students increased, she opened a studio in Elmira where she taught piano to hundreds of students for more than 50 years.
Frederick Knapp & Knapp School of Music
In 1903, Frederick Knapp began teaching private violin, cello, mandolin, and guitar lessons. He opened the Knapp School of Music on College Avenue in Elmira in 1915, offering music lessons to lower-income students. He also led a student orchestra that played at events throughout the region. His wife, Anna Knapp, took over the school after his death in 1935. She also began selling musical instruments, radios, and phonographs. The school and music store changed hands several more times in its history, and is still located at 104 College Avenue.
Knapp’s Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra, 1904
Frederick Knapp is seated in the center.
M. Doyle Marks
By the time Martin Doyle Marks was 15 years old, he had taught enough music lessons at 25 cents per lesson to purchase his own piano. After working as a traveling piano salesman for five years, he opened his first music store in Elmira in 1898. He sold musical instruments, as well as accessories and sheet music. In 1904, he introduced a line of Doylemarx pianos built to his specifications. His son joined the business in 1925, and kept it running until 1961.