I took my first guitar lessons at Pedrini’s Music near Fourth & Main streets in the downtown. Pedrini’s has been gone for a long time now, over ten years it seems. In it’s place now is a beauty academy.
I remember going to Pedrini’s as a kid also, for school band related music necessities like saxophone reeds. My father bought my first guitar there, when I was eight years old.
I remember the many accordions and horns behind the counter… There were guitars racked on the wall at the northeast section and towards the back as you enter the walkway from Fourth street. You’d walk in through the arcade, turn right into the store, then on the left near the entrance there were music scores. They had varying music books: piano methods in Spanish, band methods, cancioneros (popular Mexican songbooks) etc. I bought two piano books there, a technique book called Una docena al día (A Dozen a Day) and some arrangements of Rachmaninov works.
Near its end, Pedrini’s stopped replenishing its supply of sheet music, unlike The Sheet Music Shoppe on Bristol & Callens Common (More on that soon). Their music books were worn, this was all due to music illiteracy.
Pedrini’s had practice rooms in its basement where one guy taught guitar and other instruments. Lessons were an hour and they started with the teacher writing out an assignment then leaving the student to practice for the remainder of the hour. Students bought their lessons ahead of time, typically on arrival, where they’d pay and get a receipt to show the teacher.
The practice rooms were rented out to music groups, most of them played música versátil, the type common in Mexican gatherings.
The Pedrini Guitar Method
Pedrini’s guitar teacher, Ramiro I think was his name, taught chords and harmonized scales used in requinto style playing (guitar soloing). He started with the key of C Major, presenting a harmonic formula, or círculo, common in many Mexican and Latin-American boleros, which typically are romantic songs for serenading etc. So the first chords were C Major, A minor, D minor and G7, and the C Major scale was harmonized in thirds. Of course, the harmonic system was in Spanish, so instruction was done using solfege: Do re mi fa sol la si, instead of the English system CDEFGA, so you’d have Do mayor, La menor, etc.
With each new lesson a new key was introduced until eventually minor keys were taught. These minor keys were accompanied by a scale, harmonized in sixths instead of thirds like the previously learned major scales (with the exception of E Major).
This is how I built a basic chord and scale vocabulary, that I put to work with a rondalla, which is a social group of guitarists and troubadours. The rondalla (or estudiantina, or tuna) is a tradition of Spain, Mexico and Latin-America. And it was alive and well in Santa Ana. We rehearsed at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at Delhi and we went around serenading…
I’m happy to say that I built a musical foundation, in part, through Pedrini’s Music in downtown Santa Ana. Not only am I happy, and proud, but I’m very lucky to have experienced this piece of Santa Ana now gone into history. Soon one music store after another closed in Santa Ana. Soon after Pedrinin’s there was Blue Note Music, which serviced the instruments of Santa Ana Unified, which was next door to where the Proof bar is now. Then The Sheet Music Shoppe closed, they too serviced SAUSD. Most recently Carvin Guitars on Main street across the Bowers Museum closed.
But not all is lost. There likely will be other stories to tell of music merchants in town. Colton Piano returned. They’re located on Main street near the School of the Arts. Their business a bit maimed, just a shadow of their former glory from when they were near the 55 freeway, and where I took my first piano lessons.
To be continued, there’s still something to say about Colton Piano, Blue Note Music and The Sheet Music Shoppe.