Made in Vermont: Stork Custom Mouthpieces

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:43 PM EST
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PLAINFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - At just 10 years old, John Stork picked up a trumpet for the first time. Little did he know where it would take him.

A stint in the Air Force, a move to Manhattan, and eventually, when rent was due, a job in a music shop making instrument mouthpieces. But this music shop was owned by the esteemed Robert Giardinelli.

“I didn’t burn to make custom mouthpieces or to make mouthpieces at all. I just wanted a job,” John laughed.

He started at the bottom of the food chain before working his way up the ranks, eventually taking over the custom mouthpiece department. His time in that shop changed his life in more ways than one.

“I met Phyllis when she came into Giardinelli Band Instrument Company and wanted some mouthpiece work done. She wasn’t happy with the work that I did, so she brought back her teacher as well to complain,” John recounted.

“I had an audition for ‘West Side Story.’ And I played the audition and I had this big white line on my lip because the bite was so sharp,” Phyllis said.

“I fell in love with her instantly,” John said.

The duet opened up their first shop in New York City and called it Stork Custom Mouthpieces. For years, they were the go-to for big names in the music industry.

“Bobby Myers,” listed John. “Tony Fazio-- he was a Broadway play player.”

The walls of the shop are covered in testimonials from players in the industry who have come to the Storks for custom mouthpieces for decades. Even after they moved to Plainfield, Vermont, to raise their children, people come from all over to have this pair do their work.

John has the technical expertise to make the pieces, and Phyllis studied trumpet at Julliard, learning under esteemed trumpeter William Vacchiano.

“Put the two together? Magic,” Phyllis said.

She prides herself on knowing how to help customers find the perfect mouthpiece fit.

While custom work is their specialty, they do offer stock mouthpieces as well. No matter what customers are purchasing, the Storks say they come back time and time again. The dynamic duo caters to customers across the world, offering video consultations from Vermont, to Japan, South Korea, Poland and beyond.

“A brain surgeon does a lot better than a butcher. You know, if you know what you’re doing, you get better results. And that’s where we like to think we come in,” said Phyllis. “I like people, I like seeing that ‘Ah, this works. This changes my life,’ you know? I love that moment when that happens.”