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Business 101 – Don’t clean your tuba in the kiddie pool!

Parker in his workshop where he enjoys teaching apprentices the art of musical instrument repair.

Article and photo by Joe Gschwendtner

In only six years, Castle Rock’s Colorado Institute of Musical Instrument Technology (CIOMIT) has become legendary. Tucked away on Topeka Way, Dan Parker’s school trains students to become apprentices of musical instrument repair. Courses can be taken in person or via the Internet. Demand for skilled technicians is so great that 99 percent of CIOMIT’s graduates find a position promptly after full certification. Six figure incomes are not unheard of.

The story begins in 1972 when Parker’s dad left a comfortable executive position to buy a music store in Los Angeles. While Mr. Parker sought a change for himself, he knew that his son was keeping bad company and also needed a diversion to avoid trouble. During four years in the store Parker became both technician and artist, learning how to repair, tune, clean, and even manufacture percussion, brasswind, and stringed instruments.

Parker also matured into an entrepreneur and started his own store in San Diego. Ten years later he became an executive of a retail chain in Fayetteville, NC. Despite quintupling store sales over a decade, a leveraged buyout hollowed out the company and Parker’s income quickly dwindled. To support his family of six, he found odd jobs outside the store. He reached a low point when he used the backyard kiddie pool to clean a client’s tuba. Then a life-changing voice inside him told him to move on.

On an employment search, Parker happened through Castle Rock, a place son-in-law Aaron had identified as an ideal place in the United States to live. Parker himself was uncertain until one summer night he experienced a sublime moment he could not ignore.

CIOMIT’s success is evident. Citations, kudos, and letters of thanks grace Parker’s walls, proof of excellence and giving back everywhere. His staff is tremendously loyal, and students are at the top of their trade. Parker has traveled the globe, teaching instrument repairs to natives in impoverished countries. His “Crystal Bell Cashel” trumpets are legendary in Hollywood and elite musical circles. No doubt, he’s having a world of fun. Asked the secret of his success, Parker answers that his faith and wife Dawn have made all the difference.

Next visit to your basement, dust off the old French horn or violin and bring it to Parker for evaluation. Let’s just say that his people are guaranteed to strike a high note for you.



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