Sam Beckett | Staff Writer
In musical notation, the “ghost note” is represented by an X, signifying the note is dead. Played on the snare drum, the ghost note sets the groove for the piece.
Three years ago, UNT jazz studies alumni Colby Schrek and a friend began to wonder how Denton’s burgeoning music scene was without its own drum shop.
“Locally-owned drum and percussion boutique shops have been a part of the American musical retail landscape for many years,” Schrek said. “A tradition.”
Finding inspiration from the beats of artists such as James Brown, and motivated by the possibility of not having to drive to Dallas to meet his percussion needs, Schrek opened The (Ghost) Note in August 2012. It is Denton’s only boutique drum store, specializing in new, used and “pre-loved” sets.
Denton’s Square was the natural choice for the new shop. Both the staff and the store’s vision have since been altered to meet demand, but the location has stayed the same.
“We are happy to have called the Denton Square home for the last three years,” Schrek said. “Since opening, we have expanded our private lessons program with additional teachers and content, and have expanded our repairs to include folkloric hand percussion and vintage drum set restoration.”
In music culture, especially music retail culture, atmospheres often lend themselves to competition. Musicians are always looking to show off their chops. Schrek has taken great care in keeping the competitive environment muted at the shop.
“Since we all have our own parts to play, we really do not become competitive with one another,” Schrek said. “There’s no time.”
His passion for music has only grown with his retail experience.
“Working in the retail industry has deepened my relationship with playing the drums on many levels,” Schrek said. “I am constantly learning more about drums and cymbals themselves.”
UNT’s music school provides a steady source of business for Schrek. Jazz studies sophomore Clark Barnhart enjoys visiting the local shop and likes to take his business there.
“I just recently bought some sticks there. It’s a good shop,” Barnhart said. “Most of the drummers I know like the shop. Everyone has good things to say about it.”
Some students are making bigger purchases at Ghost Note. Austin Pierce, a jazz studies sophomore with an emphasis on drums, recently purchased a new drum kit from The (Ghost) Note.
“I bought a Gretsch Marquee kit, which is good, because I’ve been playing a lot of fusion,” Pierce said. “This kit allows me to play whatever style I want.”
Pierce’s ultimate dream is to become a session musician on the East Coast. He said the kit he was able to purchase from The (Ghost) Note will stay with him for a while.
Despite the threat of more corporate music stores moving to Denton, Pierce doesn’t think the store will be in any danger of going out of business.
“I feel that they do a great job taking care of all the percussive needs,” Pierce said. “It’s a boutique shop, so they have a lot of interesting, high-quality drum sets that the bigger stores don’t keep in stock.”
Schrek said he has been surprised by the demand of private lessons in the area. He has hired three additional private lessons teachers in addition to himself.
Most of his employees are current or former UNT music students. Jose M. Aponte, a senior percussion and Jazz studies lecturer at UNT, is a seasoned percussionist and an active member of the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene. He is credited as a freelance and studio musician with groups such as Colombian jazz group Fifo & Citizens of the World.
“Each person that works in the shop has a strong set of individual skills,” Schrek said. “Talented guys and gals.”
Growing his beard long and consuming many cups of coffee, Schrek has been setting Denton’s percussion scene with his band of drummers. The (Ghost) Note remains a permanent fixture in the small business culture of the city.
Proud of his commitment to drums, Schrek said every day presents new challenges and opportunities to be a part of the Denton music scene. He likes to keep things simple and always about the music: “We do all things drum.”
Featured Image: Colby Schrek, store owner and manager of Ghost Note, has been jamming out since he opened the store August 2015. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer