NORTON, VA – JUNE 1, 2023 – While The Music School and Shop on 716 Park Avenue NW in the City of Norton provides retail musical instruments and accessories, its primary focus is educational, according to owner James Wardell. The veteran-owned small business provides centralized resources for vocal and instrumental instruction in music.

RTW Music, LLC, dba The Music School and Shop was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

“The Music School and Shop is filling the need for musical instruments and instruction,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The new business projects two full-time and 12 part-time employees within five years.”

The business maintains studio space and a cadre of highly skilled musical instructors, coordinating marketing and scheduling as well as bookkeeping services. Private lessons, group lessons, classes, intensive coaching and audition/performance preparation are offered to all ages and ability levels. Patrons include adult learners as well as younger learners.

“The Music School and Shop ensures clients have access to quality instruments, instruction and performing opportunities,” according to the application filed when the VCEDA grant was being sought. “Our mission is to support the artistic and cultural contributions of local musicians to our community by providing high quality music instruction and retail services that draw upon the rich history and continuing tradition of musicianship in the communities we serve. A core belief of The Music School is that there is value inherent in all forms of musical expressions including classical, popular, country, rock, Jazz, folk and traditional genres.”

In addition to retail and instruction, the application projected the business would be actively engaged in community outreach and tourism efforts by sponsoring and supporting local artists and events.

Wardell, a former K-12 music instructor, whose son, Ryan Tackett Wardell, is serving as general manager, noted they are committed to the educational aspect of the new business, adding at his seed capital project review interview, “we are music teachers at heart.”

The shop is open Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

Wardell worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the City of Norton Industrial Development Authority.

“Mountain Empire Community College’s SBDC has enjoyed working with this father/son duo as they brought their dream of a music shop and school to life in Norton,” said Becki-Oquinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC.

Their expertise and talent will provide old and young patrons alike the opportunity to learn new skills or improve. The VCEDA Seed Capital fund gives The Music School and Shop a boost to complete renovations so that they can offer a full array of products and services.          

The Music School and Shop may be reached by calling (276) 365-5247 and may also be found on Facebook.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. or

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.