The instructors at Palen Music Center impart expert rhythmic and melodic education during one-on-one lessons customized to each student’s skill set and taste in music. Throughout four weekly half-hour lessons, students perfect the ideal pluck on a guitar, bass, or banjo, or learn to underscore the arrival of an ominous cable repairman with a violin, cello, or viola. Lessons are also available for piano, drums, and brass tackle, such as the trombone and trumpet, and students can learn to shred in a multitude of genres, including bluegrass, rock, and classical. Alternatively, students can transform caterwauls into croons with vocal instruction after lubing up choral tubes with free coffee in a cozy waiting lounge that neighbors the store’s stockpile of guitars, drums, pianos, and wine glasses that, when filled with a specific amount of water and massaged, cry notes.
Since 1967, Palen Music Center has been fostering the musical arts throughout Missouri with five locations stocked with instruments and staffed by musicians who offer both shopping insight and musical instruction. The center’s instrument rentals and private lessons—which are available for a variety of different instruments—give aspiring musicians a chance to explore their options before purchasing an instrument of their own. And for those ready to invest, Fender guitars, Tama drums, Roland keyboards, and a wide array of other instruments are kept stocked at each of the shop’s locations.
Sharps, flats, and naturals are everywhere within Piano Craft. The store's show room contains a mix of grand pianos, vertical pianos, and keyboards—also known as robot pianos. Piano Craft does more than sell musical instruments, however. Its team also teaches customers how to use them. During group lessons, adults can make new friends as they learn to play music.
In addition to carrying used textbooks, the Student Book Exchange prepares students for life outside of class with a variety of tools and college-branded tokens representing Missouri State University, Drury University, Webster University, and other local colleges. Patrons can don a maroon MSU basketball T-shirt ($11.99), wield a Texas Instruments BA II Plus financial calculator for speedy differential calculus ($27.99), or brandish Greek-emblazoned flare to fit in at social mixers or at a house party on Mount Olympus. Hard-studying pupils can also equip themselves for class with books from the reading lists of several nearby schools, such as Comins’ Discovering the Essential Universe ($72.95 new; $49.95 used) or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics ($10.50 new; $2.95 used).
With 3,400 square feet devoted to the fine art of mud molding, Springfield Pottery hosts the works of well-known clayshapers from across the country. Stop in and peruse a selection of tumblers ($18–$28) and pick up spoons to show babies how to fling caviar with gusto ($5–$42). Purchase a pottery mug from Justin Rothshank ($39) or stock up on wooden bowls from Brad McCullum and outfit miniature dollhouses with makeshift hot tubs ($60–$90).