The Very Talented Patty Story

Patty Story is a busy, busy lady - she plays in the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, teaches orchestra at St. Mary’s and owns Symphony Supply which was recently given an Outstanding Customer Service award by the National Association of Musician Merchants. She loves to cook, but rarely has the time to do so. Keep reading and you will understand why. iMeet this gifted and talented music professional!

Welcome to iList, Patty Story! Tell us about yourself...

I was born and raised in St. Matthews, which is part of Louisville. I have one sister and spent a lot of time with my elders and cousins, but music and my teachers had important influence in my life as I grew up. I started lessons on piano and then on viola in a program called Catholic Youth Orchestra. I played in school orchestras, Louisville Youth Orchestra (which took me on trips to parts of the US and Europe), college orchestras and camp orchestras. I was so fortunate to have teachers who were passionate about music, teaching and their students.

During college, I won the audition to play in Louisville Orchestra and I played with them for the next ten years. I have taught strings in interesting places. I started my teaching career at The School for the Blind in Louisville. What a phenomenal experience and such great kids!

My teacher, Virginia Schneider, was one of the first American teachers to bring Suzuki Violin Method to America after being with Dr. Suzuki herself, so I was in the initial groups in America to learn and teach that method. I taught in several Suzuki (Talent Education) summer camps and had quite a talented private studio at U of L.

When I moved to Paducah, I took over the principal violist chair in the Paducah Symphony. I figure I have played in a symphony every year for 51 years now. YIKES!

Tell us about your family, Patty…

This month will mark the 39th year of marriage to Bob Story, who is with Story Electric. Bob and I met in Sewanee music camp in 1978 and have been together ever since. We moved to Paducah from Louisville so Bob, who is a native Paducahan, could help with the family business, and we would raise our family.

We have two sons, Ted, (married to Sarah Canella Story) and Aaron who both work with Bob in the family business. At the present we have two kitties who are treated like queens.

Tell us about Symphony Supply…

Symphony Supply is this region’s only violin shop. We sell and rent bowed string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass and fiddle). We rent to school and individuals in our region from Memphis to Columbia, Missouri and beyond. Everyone on staff teaches, performs and is knowledgeable about what you need to play a string instrument.

Symphony Supply started as a source for violin, viola, cello and bass strings and accessories. Local music stores at the time were selling old brands at very high prices. They didn’t have string specialists on their sales team and weren’t keeping up with the new string technologies. We decided to offer more up to date supplies for a more reasonable price and sold from our basement.

Within a month of starting the business, a friend who started a violin program in Paris, Tennessee called needing excellent quality instruments to rent, so like that, we added the rental part of our business.

At the same time, string classes were being cut from the curricula from schools in our area. Our mission was to do our part to promote more string education and aid in building programs in the region by providing less expensive but high quality instruments and accessories and our expertise. And it’s working!

Today, a little over 20 years later, string classes are back in the schools, there are regional youth orchestras as well as adult string groups and there are so many individual students, young and old, who are playing violin, viola, cello, bass and fiddle!

We repair instruments at Symphony Supply and we offer lessons at the store. We sell string and piano sheet music, strings and accessories, musical gifts and occasionally ukuleles and mandolins.

I heard that Symphony Supply was recently recognized as a "Top 100 Music Store"...tell us more about the award...

We have been a member of NAMM since we started business. NAMM (National Association of Musician Merchants). From NAMM: The Top 100 Dealer Awards is an “annual awards show which recognizes the industry’s outstanding music retailers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to their stores, neighborhoods and customers, and share in a vision of creating a more musical world through their local communities.” And after we filled out various questionnaires “an independent panel of judges numerically rated the Top 100 Dealers across several categories including customer service, music advocacy, store design and promotions. Each submission was scored to determine the Top 100 list, the category awards and the overall Dealer of the Year award.”

Our award is for Outstanding Customer Service. Along with the best prices, we strive to make the rental/purchase process of a string instrument as comfortable as possible. Most people who come in for the first time have never played an instrument so they are worried they will ask the wrong questions or not know what to do. We try to make the process easy and fun for parents and the students. We connect students with teachers and programs as well as provide a one-stop shopping experience.

And you teach at St. Mary's too...

I have taught at St. Mary since 2001, and as director of Orchestras since 2007. The string program there starting in the 6th grade with the beginning strings class; the middle school and an advanced orchestra in the program follow. I honestly teach some of the best kids you’ll find in this area-  talented with a real zeal for learning but also with hearts for service. We perform regular concerts as well as small groups playing for different functions, and one of our missions is to provide the best worship music at system masses as a service to community.

And you are active in the PSO…what's your favorite piece to play?

Both Bob and I started in the Paducah Symphony in its early years. I play viola, which is played like a violin but sounds deeper. Bob plays cello. We came here in 1985 and started in the PSO. I have played nearly every concert since. Bob left the symphony when our boys were teenagers.

We have both played in the Paducah Symphony Quartet since we moved here. I also manage Serenade Strings, a trio or quartet which plays weddings, receptions, parties and special events. For many years, I was on the board of directors of the symphony as a musician liaison.

I have also conducted the Sinfonia, which was the younger group of the Youth Orchestra. It’s really difficult to say what my favorite piece to play would be. I think my favorite piece is the one I am playing at any given time. I love Rachmaninoff for the sensuous, passionate lines he writes, but part of experience of being an orchestra player is that you get to play lots of people’s works.

Any big Fourth of July plans?

My sister and her son were both born on the 4th of July. That being said, I will lay low here in town. I still write my name with sparklers. I’m fairly easy-going.

It's 10 pm on a Friday night...what would we find you doing? 

If it’s a concert weekend, I am leaving rehearsal and going to my store with some orchestra friends to hang out a bit. Otherwise, I’m a home body - I’m home.

Do you cook? What's your favorite dish to cook? Want to share the recipe with our readers?

I am a good cook and better baker, but I can’t tell you the last time I cooked. So my favorite recipe would look like directions to a favorite place to eat.

What's the best part about your job? What's the hardest?

The best part about my job is that I everything I do involves music and for the most part, it’s on my terms. The hardest part is getting up super early to be at St. Mary to teach a 6:45 am class. But as I tell those students, what is a better way to start your day than playing music?

Wow, Patty Story…you are one interesting and busy musical person. Thanks for being on iMeet and we look forward to the Paducah Symphony’s new season and hearing you play.