We are happy to announce that we have a new team member! Brian DeGayner has joined MMI in the repair department. He graduated from Southeast Technical in Red Wing with a diploma in band instrument repair in 2016. Prior to joining the repair team at MMI, Brian worked for Twin Cities Instrument Repair in Edina, focusing on flute and double reeds. He is a member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, and attends state and regional conferences. Brian spends most of his free time outdoors, or playing in local orchestras.
We asked Brian a few questions to get to know him better!
What got you started in repair?
"After a few years of playing horn, I realized my love for working with my hands could be applicable to the industry. After talking with Greg Beckwith, I dropped everything and went to Southeast Tech in Red Wing."
What groups were you playing in prior to going to school for repair?
"I have played for several orchestras around Minnesota. Mankato Symphony, St. Andrew’s, Bloomington Symphony, Minneapolis Civic, Wayzata Symphony, and currently St. Paul Civic."
Any favorite pieces?
"I love Mahler’s symphonies, especially 3, 4, and 5. Ein Heldenleben, Holst’s Jupiter, Sibelius....basically anything horn-heavy. Otherwise, I’m usually partial to playing in small ensembles, such as Daniel Baldwin’s Landscapes for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano, Martinu’s Quartet for Clarinet, Horn, Cello and Snare Drum, or Barber’s Summer Music."
What is your favorite repair to do?
I love a challenge. My favorite work to do is overhauling instruments: breathing new life into an instrument is very rewarding, and hearing an instrument I fixed on stage always makes me smile.
Any hobbies at home?
I would consider myself a maker. I’ve used my machining experience to make plenty of hand tools and a few machines to help with various projects. Currently, I’m refinishing my tool chest, painting models, and working on my jewelry making skills. I wouldn’t mind getting into watch and clock mechanism repair...
You’ve mentioned your love for the outdoors...
I go hiking and camping as much as I can, year round. I am an Eagle Scout (Troop 494, White Bear Lake, 2009), so I basically grew up outdoors. My family moves a lot of timber every year, and I hunt and fish whenever I can.
Please join us in welcoming Brian to MMI! We are so happy to have him part of our team!
We absolutely love our new location and think you will, too!! The store has doubled in size!! We've added practice/lesson rooms, a recital hall, increased the size of our repair shop and sales floor. Please stop by for a visit! We'd love to show you around!
Our repair staff working hard in the new repair shop!
Our new recital hall with seating capacity of 60!
One of our new teaching/practice studios!
A street view of our new space.
We look forward to welcoming you in the store soon!
I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to everyone that came to our grand opening celebration! For those of you that came, emailed, sent flowers or called with your best wishes, we are extremely grateful. Below are some photos from the event.
A big thank you again to our generous sponsors/vendors: Buffet-Crampon, Fox Products, Loree, Puchner, Heckel, D'Addario, Peak, and Clark Fobes.
We look forward to many more events and please keep an eye on our calendar for updates!
Jessica Nelson, General Manager
Owner and founder, Mike Aamoth gets a thumbs up after the Friday night reception from long-time customer, David Braslau.
Katie with customers at the Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Friday night reception.
Eric thanks a customer after work in the repair shop.
Our first customer during the celebration on Friday!! Jessica with her friend and oboist, Siri Garnaas
Friday was repair technician, Matt Reich's birthday! We surprised him with a cake.
Julie Gramolini William, Chris Marshall, and Greg Williams, of the MN Orchestra during their trio performance
As many players know, our instruments travel just as much as we do. Our instruments spend quite a bit of time being removed from and placed into their cases. If you're investing in your instrument, be sure to invest in an instrument case that cares for your woodwind too.
Many instruments that come through our repair shop suffer from ill fitting cases. Some cases can actually be detrimental to your instrument's safety. Reoccurring problems on your horn (rods becoming loose, keys going out of alignment) might actually be caused by the way an instrument fits in the case. We have seen bent keys from cases fitting both too tight or with excessive movement. If your current case is not fit to your instrument, be sure to attend to this issue. Scratched plating and blemishes in the body of an instrument can be caused by a loose bocal, screwdriver or other items left in the case. Consider a case with an outer zipper pouch to collect all of your accessories! We're here to help and our sales team has many options to offer when considering updating your case. Visit our online store to see our options for cases: oboe cases, bassoon cases, clarinet cases, saxophone cases. We can also special order cases--call us for more details.
The staff at Midwest Musical Imports has extensive experience performing and teaching on our respective instruments, in addition to the sales we do every day. We want you to make an informed decision and purchase an instrument that will serve you well for years We hope that these guide will give you a more clear picture of what we have to offer as you seek the right instrument for you. We are always happy to speak with you over the phone, so please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-926-5587. Click the appropriate link below for your instrument buyer’s guide so you can get started on your research.
For many of our customers the beginning of the school year means audition season, for high school band chair placement, or screened auditions for the college orchestra. Besides making sure you get your instrument out to practice the audition material, here are some things you can do to make sure you perform your best at an audition.
The first thing you’ll need to do is familiarize yourself with brands and models. There are many different brands and models of saxophones and it can be a daunting task to wade through the sea of instruments available to the prospective buyer. There’s endless amounts of information online but for many this can add to the confusion. Enlisting the help of school teachers/private lesson teachers, local professionals and music store employees will help narrow down the search. Once you’ve decided on a specific make/model or two you can then use the internet more effectively by reading reviews and gathering what you can from the manufacturer’s website to act as your own saxophone buyer’s guide.
You don't have to buy the most expensive instrument but you should always try to get the best instrument you can afford. Nicer instruments with a reputable brand name tend to hold their value much better than the smaller off-brand variety. Another factor may be the type of playing one chooses to do, you wouldn't want to bring your expensive professional model saxophone to marching band practice where it could be easily damaged. If you're just beginning your musical journey it's best to go with a good student model horn for this very reason.
When it's time to replace a musical instrument, sometimes purchasing a brand new instrument may not be an option. Midwest Musical Imports is pleased to offer a wide selection of high quality used instruments that will fit your needs. We also offer a 1-year maintenance and crack warranty included with the purchase of select used oboes, bassoons, clarinets, and saxophones!
Call our instrument specialists at 612-331-4717 for further information and trial availability!
I’ll be performing in a quartet with with NYC drummer (by way of Cuba) Francisco Mela (member of Joe Lovano’s US Five, McCoy Tyner, Esperanza Spalding) at the MacPhail Center for Music this Saturday, April 20, 2013, at 8:00 pm. Francisco tours much of the year with some of the biggest names in jazz and also leads his own group called Francisco Mela's Cuban Safari. Local favorites Tanner Taylor (piano) and Graydon Peterson (bass) will round out the rhythm section. We hope to see you there.
Francisco Mela is currently a favorite among elite jazz instrumentalists such as Joe Lovano (Us Five), John Scofield (John Scofield Trio), and Joanne Brackeen. He is a regular member of Kenny Barron’s working trio, all of whom cite his charisma, sophistication, and life-affirming spirit.
His first opportunity to perform outside of Cuba came when Hernández was booked for an appearance at the Cancún Jazz Festival. In 1997, Francisco returned to Mexico to perform in Cancún with his own group, the MelaSon Latin Jazz Band. Then, a chance encounter with Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Pérez led him to a life-changing decision. “Danilo encouraged me to move to Boston,” Francisco reminisces. “He said, ‘Don’t worry. if you come to Boston, you’re going to end up playing with better people than me.’”
He initially planned to study at either Berklee College or The New England Conservatory of Music, but professional opportunities headed him in another direction. It wasn’t long before Francisco was the house drummer of Wally’s Café, one of Boston’s hottest jazz clubs. While honing his own sound as a jazz drummer and broadening his leadership role as leader of a quintet, he also had an opportunity to back such world class talent as Pérez, fellow Cuban Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and his longtime idol, drummer Roy Haynes.
Eventually, he started playing with music professors at Berklee. Then, one day, he received a call to teach at the prestigious institution. He currently balances a hectic schedule of appearances with the aforementioned pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonists Joe Lovano and George Garzone, bassist John Patitucci, and guitarist John Scofield. Francisco’s professional and artistic horizons continue to broaden as he collaborates with more and more musicians.
MMI is proud to now be carrying Keilwerth saxophones. These instruments are made in Germany using the highest quality materials insuring the most durable construction and consistent resonance and sound. All key work and mechanics are created by hand to ensure the most precise fit and accurate performance. This high level of workmanship is realized through every aspect of the build, from the key work to the hand soldered posts and tone hole rings.
The Julius Keilwerth SX90R Saxophone allows the player to shape their music. With innovative bore and bow designs and signature "rolled tone holes" feature, this model is reminiscent of the "big tone" saxophones of the 1940's but with modern precision and quality manufacturing. Read More...