Band teachers show love for Lunsford’s as business sets to close

Anne BrockWest Knoxville

Lunsford’s Music is winding down and plans to close by mid-July. If your family or music program could benefit from its reduced pricing on instruments, accessories or even shelving and miscellaneous supplies, now is the time to visit at 3606 Western Ave.

All rental instruments are going up for sale. Plans are in the works for ownership of the building to change later this summer.

“We are gonna miss you!!” posted Julya to the store’s Facebook page. “This is my daughter with her first flute (mine passed down that y’all fixed up for her) when she was in sixth grade. Y’all are the best!”

Todd Roberts wrote: “Wouldn’t have my saxophone without Lunsford’s. You guys helped me get started. I’ll miss you terribly!”

It’s been an emotional time for owner Sonja Lunsford Rogers, who was band director at Scott High School when she met business founder Daniel Lunsford, and they married in 1985. The late Mr. Lunsford had started the music business out of his basement in 1981. The couple worked together for many years out of the Lunsford’s Music store in Knoxville. After 40 years, Sonja is ready to retire.

She said, “What a tremendous response of support we’ve had from the community. Thank you.”

Any band directors or boosters who are seeking quantities of certain items are encouraged to inquire soon, before supplies run out. These even include music books, shelving and office furniture.

Several schools in outlying counties have depended on visits from Lunsford’s Music to keep them stocked up on supplies and maintain their instruments.

“When a child shows interest in learning an instrument, reading music and just being part of a band, good things start to happen. I hope these students continue their appreciation of music for a lifetime,” said Sonja.

Don Hendricks, 40-year Campbell County band director now serving as teaching assistant, remembers the early days. “He was just starting out,” said Don about Daniel Lunsford when he would arrive at the school with a car full of reeds, valve oil and other band supplies to see what an instructor might need. Don and Sonja had both studied music at Cumberland College, and he suggested that maybe Daniel should go visit the band director at Scott High School. Little did he know that Sonja – that Scott High School band director – would soon become a Lunsford herself.

Don said the couple seemed to work very well together as their business grew.

Cole Hunt remembers meeting the Lunsford’s Music family when he was a young musician involved in the All-East Tennessee Band in Gatlinburg. “My band director, Kayla Avery, told me, ‘If you need anything, go to the Lunsford’s table.’ Sonja and the Lunsford’s crew were a fixture at this event.”

Don said he admired that the couple always kept the focus on helping as many students as they could with early music education. “There are several of my students that they have provided instruments to who couldn’t afford it, just so the kids could stay in band. It’s going to be a major void when Sonja retires, because she and Lunford’s have served thousands of young musicians with a sense of service – and there’s not really anybody stepping up to take her place.”

“Sonja was there for me when literally no one else was,” remembered the former band director of North Greene High School. Jessica Gass said, “My first teaching job was in a very rural area, far away from any type of music store or repair shop. I was literally starting a high school band that had never existed before. When everyone else told me that we were too far away and didn’t have enough students to service, Sonja was the one who didn’t even blink an eye to help my students and myself. Lunsford’s music visited me once a week, just like they would at any other school.

“That little band … started with 12 members, and when I left, was up to 78 members. This would not have been possible without the help and faith of community stakeholders and people like Sonja Lunsford.” Jessica currently leads music K-5 and band at Mt. Horeb Elementary School in Jefferson County.

Cole now shares his talents as band director of Burchfield School in Scott County. He is very sad to see the doors closing on this locally owned store.

“Lunsford’s has stood by their motto of putting kids first. I can’t tell you the number of times that they have saved the day with a last-minute repair before a concert, or finding a way to get something to you … Sonja has been a great music education advocate for our area, and she has personally encouraged my students to pursue music beyond middle school.”

“To say that I will miss Sonja is an understatement,” said Farragut High School assistant band director Rodney Brown. “I cannot imagine being a band director in Knoxville knowing that Lunsford’s is no longer a phone call away. From band camp deliveries, instrument repairs, senior clinic snacks, to anything else that you could have ever needed, Sonja provided it and did so with a beautiful smile and infectious optimism. I have never seen her in a bad mood, or heard her say a negative word about anyone. Sonja is a music education icon in East Tennessee and the legacy that she leaves cannot be eclipsed.”

Rodney previously held band positions at Union County and West High School.

If you currently rent from Lunford’s Music, you are asked to either return or take the option to purchase your instrument by June 16, 2023. You can get detailed information on the value pricing by reaching or calling 865-523-0276.

As rentals are returned this summer, the store will continue selling all of its inventory. The repair shop has closed for outside repairs. Like and follow Lunsford’s Music on Facebook for announcements about final summer sales. The Lunford’s Music family truly appreciates your loyal support over more than four decades!

Anne Brock is marketing coordinator for Solar Alliance. She can be reached at: 865-221-8349 or 


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