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One of Utah’s oldest stores part of digital piano revolution

Daynes stays relevant by nurturing clients through education, innovation.

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Daynes Music’s 150 years of business acumen is spelled out in a handwritten missive that Skip’s grandpa, Royal Daynes, once posted on the store wall. It read, "What do we have to do to make a profit?"

Royal Daynes helped fund what would become the Utah Symphony, while aggressively building his music business. At one point he operated 25 stores in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada, before losing nearly everything in the Great Depression.

At a glance

Daynes Music Co./Discount Piano Warehouse

Where » 6935 S. State St., Midvale

Hours » 10 a.m to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Selling » Pianos, player-piano systems, sheet music, accessories such as metronomes, lamps, benches

Founded » 1862 in a log building just east of Main Street on 100 South in downtown Salt Lake City

Symphony patron» In 1902, company president Royal Daynes helps fund the forerunner of today’s Utah Symphony

Ballet booster » In 1963, then-owner Gerald Daynes opens store to be the first home of what became Ballet West

Opera fan » In 1982, Gerald’s son, Skip Daynes, uses store to house offices of the Utah Opera

Oldest continuously operating Utah firms

1862 » Daynes Music, Midvale

1873 » Zions Bank, Salt Lake City

1880 » Winder Farms, West Valley City

1886 » Lagoon park, Farmington

1892 » Sweet Candy Co., Salt Lake City

1896 » S.E. Needham Jewelry, Logan

1905 » Utah Woolen Mills, Salt Lake City

Source: Tribune research

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His son, Gerald, fought to keep the business viable, selling radios, Victrolas and televisions, just about everything relating to music. Hoping the arts would further his business, he opened his downtown store in the 1960s to the Utah Civic Ballet, now known as Ballet West. The top floor and basement of the store, then at 156 S. Main, were used for rehearsals, and the main floor served as the ticket office.

But those hard years convinced Gerald Daynes that none of his children should enter the challenging business. That resolve included his eldest, Skip, who was working in the Snyderville Basin about 15 miles east of Salt Lake City on a cattle spread owned by his uncle, Thomas Jeremy, known today as the Jeremy Ranch community.

Skip Daynes was a cowboy and a University of Utah graduate in business management when he decided to disregard his father’s wishes and do what he could to save his family’s music business, partly from pride that Daynes Music was among the nation’s oldest family owned stores.

Beautiful music • The business had gotten its start in 1862 as a jewelry and music store in a log building just east of Main Street on 100 South — the first of what would be 15 locations in Salt Lake City. Its founder was British watchmaker and Mormon convert John Daynes, whose hobby was music. While crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley, his 11-year-old son, Joseph, played a small accordion or concertina during the long marches. At night, the boy played a harmonium, a smaller version of a pump organ, while the Saints sang hymns around the campfires.

It was during welcoming festivities for the pioneers, near where City Hall now stands, that Mormon colonizer Brigham Young first heard the boy play the harmonium and reportedly exclaimed, "There is our organist for the Tabernacle organ."

Young sent Joseph Daynes to New York City for training while construction continued on the Tabernacle and its great pipe organ. At age 16, the young man played for the first church conference in October 1867. He would be organist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the next 33 years.

One of Joseph Dayne’s compositions, "As the Dew From Heaven Distilling," is the theme melody played at the end of the Tabernacle Choir broadcast each Sunday.

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On display at Daynes Music is the old harmonium, with a leather-strap groove its founder used to carry the instrument on his back over dangerously steep inclines during the trek west.

The concertina sits atop Skip Daynes’ desk.

The story has it that Joseph Dayne’s music provided so much comfort on the Mormon Trail that the pioneers took turns making room for the boy in their wagons, sparing him from walking.

With that family memory, Skip Daynes cringes when he sees teens wearing headphones listening to music, "when they could be making beautiful music themselves."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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