REPAIR SHOP SAVES HORNS, CELLOS FROM SILENT DEATH

- SPOKESMAN REVIEW -
by Mike Prager

Robin Amend knows how hard children can be on musical instruments. He makes a living fixing crushed trumpets, bent trombone slides, broken cello bridges and cracked clarinets.

Amend has been repairing musical instruments for 18 (now 26) years including the past twelve (now 20) at his shop at 1305 W. 14th.

He describes his craft as a cross between being a plumber, a jeweler, and an auto body repairman.

"I like everything about it," he said of his job. "You get to do something different every day."

Over the years, he's pulled stuffed animals from the innards of horns and occasionally retrieved a pair of underwear from larger instruments. He remembers fixing a trumpet that was run over while inside its case by three cars. With all the challenges, Amend said he's had only two or three instruments that were damaged beyond repair.

The AMEND MUSIC CENTER is one of the largest repair shops for musical instruments in the region. Amend does work for schools as far away as Montana. During the summer his shop repairs 800 to 1,000 instruments.

"We do work for tons of schools," he said.

His reapair shop is in a 1905 brick building that has housed different neighborhood businesses over the years.

" The first time I saw this building I thought it was the coolest thing in the world," he said. He and his wife, Debbie, own the building.

The walls of the shop are decorated with tarnished horn instruments and a row of old high school band uniforms.

Amend traces his passion for music to his grandfather, who once performed in a vaudeville orchestra.

Photos of his grandfather are displayed in an old oak case.

Debbie Amend handles the sales counter, takes repair orders and keeps the books. Amend employs another repairman to help him keep up with the work orders.

Most of his business is generated by word-of-mouth through the schools. He doesn't need to advertise.

A graduate of Central Valley High School, Amend, 43, (we won't say now) learned his craft at Spokane Falls Community College in a program the colleges have since discontinued.

When he was younger, Amend performed in various bands. He still sings in the choir at First Presbyterian Church.

He said he met his wife through their musical pursuits. She also sings in the church choir.

For students starting out in band classes, Amend's shop offers rentals and rent-to-own instruments.

Private lessons are available at the shop. The Spokane Youth Symphony has its music library in the basement of the building.

Amend enjoys the neighborhood setting.

"We stay busy enough that we can be a neighborhood business," he said. "I like being able to look out my window and watch the kids going home from school."