Bob Auletta, owner of The Piano Outlet and BMA Piano Rentals, comes by his musical talent and interests naturally. Born and raised in Bronxville, New York, Bob is the son of well-known musician Ted Auletta, who was conductor, pianist or arranger for many notable Broadway and nightclub singers, featured pianist at the end of the big band era, as well as being in demand as a solo artist and musical director in many of New York’s popular hot-spots and upscale hotels and nightclubs. Bob’s mother and sisters also studied piano but decided not to pursue it professionally, although Bob’s mother is a wonderful artist in her own right. Their home was always filled with Ted’s musician friends.
Bob began studying piano at age 7, studied for a few years, then took a hiatus until high school when he began more serious lessons. Bob’s musical talents are mainly in conducting and composition, which he studied at the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan. His formal studies produced a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from New York University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in conducting from California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, California. He later continued his post-graduate education by studying film composition at UCLA.
Once Bob had moved to the West Coast for graduate school, he quickly became active in the Los Angeles music scene and beyond, working as music director and writing musical shows for 20th Century Fox’s Marineland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Opryland in Nashville; conducting numerous musical theater productions, and playing piano for IBM and other industrial shows (hired by his dad) at the beautiful Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego and the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco; accompanying and arranging for local singers; and playing the cruise ship circuit. Bob describes the Marineland gig as the best job he ever had: working 6 days a week, directing three thirty-minute shows a day with professional musicians and performers, and hanging out in a closed restaurant on a cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island in between shows. The pay was great and the living was so California. At Knotts Berry Farm, he was responsible for hiring performers, writing stage shows and working on special events in their 2000-seat theater, and working with Hollywood and Disney professionals.
When the show work slowed down, Bob put his education talents to use, answering an ad to teach and play at a private Beverly Hills school. He quickly started a band curriculum there, which turned into a very stable 80-school program, utilizing the teaching talents of under-employed, talented musicians. At its height, the program was instructing 2,000+ students each week. In the 1980’s, Bob ran his teaching office in his Hollywood Hills home and continued these teaching programs for 19 more years. He had bought one piano for home use, but, not being completely satisfied with it, bought another. When he sold the first piano, he realized this could be a new venture for him. He soon ended up with 7 more pianos in his home and 3 in the garage!
With ten pianos at home and more instruments coming from a friend in New Orleans, Bob quickly needed to find a commercial space, which led to his opening of the first of three locations—Strings, Etc.—which became a fixture in Hollywood for twelve years. Piano restoration became an integral part of this store when he added a warehouse to the mix. Additionally, Bob branched out to Thousand Oaks (and later Westlake Village), with Westlake Piano, then moved further north, with Santa Barbara Piano, including Michael’s Piano Rentals. In 2000, he did a quitting business sale for another store owner, what was then Piano/Organ World, and ended up taking over and expanding that business into the current Oxnard retail location, The Piano Outlet. Bob’s business is now consolidated into the one store in Oxnard, which is much larger than it looks, and which serves Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo counties and beyond. The first thing most people say when they come in is, “Wow, I didn’t realize how big this store is! You have so many beautiful pianos!!” The store also maintains a vibrant online presence with the website, a store on Ebay, and, most recently, a Facebook page.
Besides his business endeavors, Bob continues to be involved in the arts. He is a storyteller and artist, with the vision to see the beauty from ashes when looking at an original handcrafted vintage piano in need of restoration, as well as seeing musical theater productions through a director’s eye. Bob and his wife, Katrina, actively support the arts and charities in the Ventura County area, including the Rubicon Theater, the New West Symphony, and the Boys and Girls Club of Oxnard.