• S Carolina doc helps instruments keep making music

    By: JOHN MACK, T&D Staff Writer

    ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Some doctors make you feel better when you're sick, some teach and some use the title in more unique ways.

    Johnny Murdaugh Sr. is the music doctor.

    For almost 14 years, since 2004, Murdaugh has been solving some of Orangeburg musicians' most difficult problems.

    From flutes to tubas, reeds to drum sticks and sheet music to live music, the music doctor has been able to prescribe exactly what his patients need.

    Every morning, he enters his shop full of tools and old instrument parts to begin repairs.

    He lines up the instruments almost like patients, starting with the ones he can fix first.

    Murdaugh said, "I've been doing it long enough that I can predict approximately how long it would take me to repair that instrument."

    Although he has almost every part he needs, Murdaugh said sometimes parts have to be specially made for instruments that may be too old and have parts that are no longer available.

    The music doctor began fostering his love for music around the sixth grade when he picked up the alto saxophone.

    As he moved into high school, Murdaugh said it became the students' responsibility to look after their instruments.

    "When I was in high school, we had nobody coming around to repair, so our band director taught us basically what to do and how to do it," he said. "You had to maintain your own instrument as much as you could."

    It sparked an interest in tinkering with the inner workings of instruments that was enhanced when he went off to college.

    The Hampton native left his hometown to come to Orangeburg to attend Claflin University.

    "I came here for music," Murdaugh said. "They told me Claflin was the best school to go to for music."

    Upon graduation in 1969, he was recruited directly out of Claflin to become the band director at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School.

    "That was the first year of total integration," Murdaugh said. "They told me directly they needed somebody black to go over and be the band director at the predominantly white school."

    He said out of 75 to 80 students, just 10 percent of the students were black.

    "It was really a challenge," he said.

    Later, Murdaugh began teaching at what was once Brewer High School in Greenwood and simultaneously at Northside Junior High.

    "It was challenging but really enjoyable," he said. "When I got there, I got really good support from the community."

    In 1978, Murdaugh left the classroom to become a teacher in a different environment.

    He started working as an employment counselor with the Department of Corrections.

    "Our main thing was trying 'choose, find, get, keep' a job," Murdaugh said. "That was challenging because you have to prepare an inmate to go out into the public and get a job with his record."

    He found a long career with the Department of Corrections. He became a principal with the department in 1980.

    Murdaugh also served on the state training council.

    He was also chairman of several institutions and became president of the South Carolina Corrections Educational Association.

    In 1997, Murdaugh retired from his career in the Department of Corrections.

    The entire time, he had an itch to keep his hands moving. Murdaugh said throughout his time with the Department of Corrections, he was also a licensed residential contractor and built cabinets.

    His brother built houses and he would be alongside him, making the cabinets inside.

    After retiring, Murdaugh returned to music in Allendale as a middle school band director.

    He left after two years saying the "band was doing a fine job" and felt they no longer needed his assistance.

    Murdaugh stayed out of the game for a short while after falling ill, but it didn't take long for him to receive calls to return.

    Edisto called for him to come to their middle school and he agreed to do one year with them, but he started to feel he wasn't interested in doing band anymore.

    This was when he began considering what was next.

    "I've always asked myself, 'What can I do?'" Murdaugh said. "I didn't want to do sales or anything."

    At his church, he had been working with the youth and doing various repair jobs here and there. He was given a key to the church.

    Murdaugh said one day he went into the church around noon and at the altar he asked, "What is it that I can do?"

    It came to him to open up his own store: The Music Doctor.

    "Everybody thought I was crazy," Murdaugh said. "They told me I didn't have enough money."

    For a little while, it seemed that maybe the venture would be fruitless.

    "What really got us going were the band directors of Orangeburg 5," Murdaugh said. "Those ones that were in Orangeburg 5 were the ones that really gave us the opportunity to do their repairs."

    Since then, The Music Doctor has been certified by The National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, Inc. and continues to attend annual workshops across the country on instrument repair.

    In 2010, The Music Doctor's main shop moved to a building on Russell Street, with the previous Amelia Street location used solely as a repair shop.

    Through the years, Murdaugh has been able to return the help he received at the beginning.

    He was able to donate keyboards to Clark Middle School, which allowed it to start its own piano lab.

    This past year, Murdaugh donated 20 brass and woodwind instruments to St. Paul Elementary School.

    "These 14 years, we do appreciate the help from Orangeburg," Murdaugh said.

    He said a bit of life advice he lived by has been Galatians chapter 6, verse 9.

    "Don't get tired of helping others, you will be rewarded when the time is right if you don't give up," Murdaugh said.


    Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com

    Next Up:

  • Headline Goes Here

    S Carolina doc helps instruments keep making music

  • Headline Goes Here

    Officers in every South Carolina school would cost millions

  • Headline Goes Here

    'N Sync to reunite to receive star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • Headline Goes Here

    State-owned utility rates going up after failed reactors

  • Headline Goes Here

    Bad weather forces Justin Timberlake to postpone NYC concert