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Carlton Music Center: Lakeland's Musical 'Superstore'

By Kelly Church

Family owned and operated by the local Carlton family, Carlton Music Center has been providing Central Florida residents with musical instruments and lessons since 1967. John and Sally Carlton opened a location in Winter Haven, with the hope of offering a "hometown superstore selection of top quality merchandise, along with a local welcoming feel of personal service." John and Sally's son, Glen Carlton now owns and operates the business with his wife Regina, keeping their family name alive.

Lakeland Store Manager Joe Gavin says Carlton Music Center's staff takes "great pride" in continuing the original Carlton dream to be the community's go-to store for musical needs. From top-of-the-line instruments, reasonable repair prices, to educational lessons, Carlton Music Center has all the necessities. The superstore sells new and used products, ranging from band and orchestral instruments, fretted instruments, percussion, keyboards, pro audio, lighting and recording equipment, accessories, and lesson books and DVDs. They even sell lesser-known instruments, such as ocarinas and didgeridoos, and specialty instruments such as limited edition Martin and Taylor guitars.

In addition to offering great products at competitive prices, Carlton Music Center offers many community events each year, which are well received and attended. These are most often clinics or demonstrations which are entertaining, interactive and informative. Their events have traditionally covered a wide range of interests, including sound reinforcement seminars, ukulele clinics, brass and woodwind clinics, drum workshops, jazz clinics and the ever popular Taylor Guitars Road Show.

Music education is a big part of Carlton Music Center's philosophy. Music lessons, covering a broad range of instruments and genres of music, are available at all three Carlton Music Center locations. "We support music education by making weekly trips to local schools, providing music directors with the supplies they need for classes, as well as making yearly donations to the local school board in support of ongoing music education," Gavin says.

As the decades go by, Carlton Music Center continues success with the foundation laid by John and Sally in the late 1960s. This formula, a mix of music education, quality products and a community-service attitude, keeps the business moving forward.

"In Serving our local music community, whether school band/orchestral students or professionals, our goal is to offer outstanding service, through our knowledgeable and personable associates," says Gavin.

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