We don’t sell many “kitschy” things here at MMI. We prefer to focus on the practical tools, materials, and references that a bassoonist needs to make music. So when looking for gifts for the bassoonist in your life you’re not going to find bassoon neckties, tree ornaments, bassoon statues, or t-shirts. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but if you’re a non-bassoonist overwhelmed with a wide variety of tools and accessories you don’t know anything about (and that’s totally okay) but want to give a bassoon related gift, here are some suggestions on what many bassoonists will be quite thankful to receive in the gift-giving season. Read the rest of this entry »
Come Shop with us! This Saturday, November 30th is the annual Small Business Saturday founded by American Express. Register your eligible American Express card online and get a $10 statement credit when you make a purchase of $10 or more! Register your card before Saturday and then stop by to pick up your reeds and other woodwind accessories!
In this week’s installment of care related posts for bassoonists, I’d like to talk about instrument cases, and safely transporting your bassoon from home or practice room to the gig or rehearsal.
We are pleased to announce the arrival of our latest batch of Buffet-Crampon clarinets. We have new R13 Bb clarinets with both Nickel and Silver keys, the new E12 France Bb clarinet and a few R13 A clarinets too.
We always recommend that you try an instrument before you make your decision. That’s why we’re pleased to offer our one-week instrument trials, free except for the cost of shipping. Play before you buy!
This clarinet is one of Buffet Crampon’s historic models. Created in 1955 by Robert Carrée, the R13 clarinet was a big hit in the United States and still meets with unprecedented success. Its tone is focused and rich, and it is powerful in all registers. Its flexibility lends itself to all repertoires: symphonies or chamber music, soloists, teachers, military bands, students or amateurs. Current Bb clarinet stock includes: S#634680 – Nickel Keys S#636044 – Nickel Keys S#634729 – Nickel Keys S#650657 – Nickel Keys S#650658 – Nickel Keys S#650672 – Nickel Keys S#650684 – Nickel Keys S#650699 – Nickel Keys S#650705 – Nickel Keys S#651156 – Nickel Keys S#651604 – Nickel Keys S#651617 – Nickel Keys Read the rest of this entry »
We will be closed for business on Thursday and Friday November 28th & 29th for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Normal business hours will resume on Saturday, November 30th from 10-2.
As most oboists know, the winter months can be grueling on our reeds and instruments – especially for those of us who live in cold, dry regions. While there is no real ‘preventative’ measure to keep a wood oboe from cracking, there are things you can do to help significantly reduce the risk. Remember that wood instruments, just like anything wood (furniture, etc) are very susceptible to changes in ambient temperature, humidity, etc, and it’s best to know how to help regulate these things in order to keep your instruments (and reeds!) happy through the winter!
First and foremost – never blow warm air into a cold instrument! While this seems obvious, it should always be reiterated. With hectic schedules and running from classes to rehearsals, gigs, and the like – there may seem like we don’t have time to warm up the oboe before playing, but it is a crucial part of instrument care. Always make the time, even if you have to miss the first few notes of the rehearsal or your second oboist has to give the tuning note. The main culprit behind cracking is taking a cold instrument from its case and forcing warm, moist air through it. This stresses the wood and does not give it sufficient time to acclimate to the room temperature. The moisture then is able to get into the wood from the inside of the bore and force its way through the grains and cause a variety of cracks ranging from surface cracks to major cracks which require pins and tone-hole inserts. The best way to warm-up the instrument is to hold it between your hands or place the joints underneath your arms. Anything you can do to bring the wood of the instrument up to an acceptable temperature to play. During the winter months if you have to ship an instrument anywhere for repairs or especially instrument trials – allow the instrument(s) to sit, cases open, in a warm room for at least 24 hours before attempting to play them. Allow the instruments to reach the temperature of the room before playing them.
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Every veteran’s day, I fondly remember a good friend that died in the line of duty and am very thankful for my friends and family that have served in different wars. One of our repair technicians, Matt Reich, is a veteran, and all of us at MMI are very thankful for his service to our country!
I recently came across an older article, written by Dr. Karl Paulnack, pianist and composer at Boston Conservatory. It was written in 2004 as a welcome address to the incoming freshman class at the time. In the article he talks about the value of music, and it’s still relevant today. I’d like to share a section which he shows the effect the power of music had on a veteran during a performance.
I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago. I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist.
We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.
Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70’s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.
When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.
What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?”
Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.
To read the entire speech, please visit: http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/music/karl-paulnack-welcome-address
And don’t forget to thank and/or remember a veteran today!
In the next coming weeks I’ll be offering some basic care tips for bassoonists. Following some basic care procedures can greatly enhance the look of your instrument and improve the performance of your bassoon between regular visits to your repair technician.
Swabbing your instrument after every playing session (or within a longer playing session) is the single most important thing you can do to keep your instrument in good playing condition. Excess moisture in the instrument while being stored can lead to water problems while playing, damaged pads, and extensive damage to the wood. Swabbing your instrument isn’t a difficult task, but it has to be done properly to ensure the process is doing what it’s supposed to do, and doesn’t result in inadvertent damage.
Repair technician Eric Anderson offers some thoughts on identifying when you have a crack in your instrument.
If you’ve been here before, you might have seen this post discussing the various bassoon options that Midwest Musical Imports has available. You might have been looking to upgrade your bocal and found this information on Heckel bocals. But if you’re buying for the first time, or upgrading to something new, you might not know for sure how to best make a selection from the choices you are given. Even if you have decided to try a Heckel CC1n bocal, or a Fox professional model bassoon, each bocal and instrument is a bit different and unique. So how do you choose? What process can you use to organize your thoughts and make a satisfactory choice that you know you’ll be happy with for years go come? Here are my personal suggestions on methods for testing and selecting an instrument or a bocal to go with an instrument. Read the rest of this entry »