As a girl, Janna Glasser’s dream was to become an airline stewardess — maybe because, as the daughter of a Navy officer, her family lived everywhere from Kentucky to Guam. But when she grew up, she got an anthropology degree, moved from Texas to Westchester, and became a hospital administrator.
Then Glasser shifted gears and graduated from the Cardozo School of Law. Her next leap was to an entertainment law firm. For two decades, she represented performers such as Blondie, Aerosmith, and R.E.M., “and a lot of artists you’ve never heard of,” she laughs.
Oh, and along the way, she also co-wrote (with several other authors) the leading law school textbook for entertainment law, entitled “Law And Business Of The Entertainment Industries” (now in its fifth edition) and taught at Pace University.
After a stint as senior counsel at PolyGram, she and her husband, John Reed, launched Mona Lisa Sound, based in Middletown, in 2000. Reed is part of the Grammy-nominated Hampton (Rock) String Quartet, which arranges and plays string quartet versions of classic rock songs ranging from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. Their company is prominent in a very cool niche — publishing sheet music for these hybrid tunes.
“We thought our customer base would be professional musicians,” Glasser says. “But public school music teachers and orchestra students have become our most enthusiastic supporters.” She adds: “Who would’ve thought string students would rather play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ than Mozart? Suddenly, the kid toting around the violin case is cool!”
Did you grow up liking music, or playing an instrument?
I am about as tone deaf as they come! I was a big Beatles fan back then. I still have my box of Beatles trading cards stuck away somewhere, but I have no musical ability whatsoever.
What innovations at Mona Lisa Sound are you most excited about?
We are proud to be the home of not just great string-quartet arrangements, but also of the MusicJOT handwriting recognition music notation app. MusicJOT lets you write music on an iPad in your own handwriting. With a touch of the finger or stylus, it renders your scribbles into perfectly notated music.
My husband, John, and his programming partner (Mark Dalrymple) have worked on MusicJOT for seven years, and it has been enthusiastically received by Apple.