In the 50’s and 60’s in Houston, most musicians, teachers and music students gathered to practice and learn at the Wadler Kaplan’s Music Shop. The original store opened in 1943 and was purchased by Pender’s Music of Denton,Texas in 2000. Upon learning of the pending closure of the store in 2008, one of its’ former students, Richard Dowling purchased the store. Dowling wanted to give back to an industry that had given him so much enjoyment. Today, Dowling Music is owned Dowling and James Li, a New York investment banker, who also plays violin and the piano.

Including playing a sold out New York Orchestral debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Dowling has performed in Central Park, on PBS, NPR, and recitals at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. He has garnered many awards including the National Winner of the prestigious Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Competition.

Dowling holds a Doctor of musical arts degree in piano performance from the University Of Texas. Dowling also studied at Yale University and has over a dozen CDs, which include classical, chamber, ragtime jazz, and popular music.

What is sheet music?

Sheet music is the term that describes printed music for musicians and students to read, learn and perform from. Dowling Music is the largest and most comprehensive source for printed sheet music in the Houston area. We carry music of all genres: classical, pop, country, jazz, guitar, Broadway, opera, and teaching methods.

What is a typical day/week of running the business:

Searching for music can often be complicated because it requires a vast knowledge of repertoire and publishers. The majority of our customers shop with us because we provide expertise in researching what they're looking for. We field inquiries in person, over the phone, and via e-mail every day. Part of our day is also spent preparing orders for shipping via mail, UPS, or FedEx to customers from all over the United States (and frequently even abroad) who buy through the Dowling Music website ( We are both a traditional "brick and mortar" store and also an online store with hundreds of thousands of titles in our inventory.

How much teaching do you do?

I am a concert pianist and also an entrepreneur. Most performing musicians are also teachers. The nature of our profession is to wear many different hats in order to make a living. Since I run a business and perform about 70 concerts a year I just don't have time to be a teacher as well. I do give a few private lessons from time-to-time however and thoroughly enjoy it. Local teachers often bring their students to me for a special one-on-one coaching in preparation for an important upcoming competition or recital.

How does the Modern-day Dowling Music compare to the original store35792Ccrop

Dowling Music carries on the 70-year tradition of Wadler-Kaplan Music Shop, founded in 1943 by two musicians who played in the Houston Symphony. My partner James Li and I built a beautiful new store on the Southwest Freeway at Kirby Drive in 2009. In addition to the new location, we greatly expanded the repertoire to include many types of music beyond just classical, although our classical selection is vast. We also added hundreds of musical themed gifts that we personally select from dozens of suppliers and manufacturers worldwide. We love finding new items to add to our store's with some sort of connection to music...from waterglobes that play songs from "Phantom of the Opera" to puzzles that feature photographs of The Beatles to cocktail napkins imprinted with sheet music. We truly have a unique and unusual assortment of gifts.

Tell us about Recital Room at Dowling Music

The Recital Room at Dowling Music is an acoustically superb hall that seats 105. We personally designed it to be reverberant...there is no carpet on the floor nor acoustical tile on the ceiling...with the result that it is truly excellent for listening to live music. Thanks to the raised stage, everyone has a good view of the performers. Our piano is a German Steinway made at Steinway's factory in Hamburg. Most pianists consider the Hamburg Steinway to be the best piano in the world. It is a joy to play and to hear. We rent The Recital Room at very reasonable rates. Many local teachers hold their student recitals at Dowling Music and professional musicians frequently give solo and chamber music concerts. I myself also perform a handful of solo recitals each year in The Recital Room. In March I performed two More information about The Recital Room can be found on our website

Dowling Music is located 2615 Southwest Freeway (59) in the heart of the Upper Kirby District

Richard Dowling, D.M.A., pianist