Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Our Phone - Stop Thief!!!

If you've been trying to ring us in the last few days and not been able to get through, it might be because some nasty little villain has hacked into our phone system, and been phoning all over the world on our (pirated) phone lines. It turns out that this a huge racket, so big it appears to be automated!

This has created a number of difficulties for our business which we are working to resolve as quickly as possible. We are still able to receive most calls, but if you can't get through, please try again a few minutes later. We hope to have things fixed tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Happily our email - is still working and should elicit a reasonably quick reply !

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Matt or CATM?

Well, here we are faced with a dilemma - go with the local support for former Stoke College pupil Matt Cardle, or make it a vote against Simon Cowell and support Cage Against The Machine - the campaign to get the celebrated four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence downloaded enough times to make Number one in the Christmas Charts.

Well, however it goes, you can now buy the printed score for 4'33" from us, and - wait for it - we can also supply the Tee Shirt. Quite a good quality one too, as you'd expect from Peters Edition, but sadly, not in my size, or at least, not yet.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


We've just received some amazing music stands into stock. They come from a company called RAT manufacturing, who are the market leaders in professional quality music stands in this country, having equipped most of the major concert venues and theatres in the UK - and many overseas too.

It was Robert Hodge the conductor who recently reminded me about them, saying how brilliant their Jazz stand is. You just get it out of the bag, pull it up to the height you want and there you are. All done in three moves. No knobs, screws, nuts or bolts. It will go to any angle. And more or less any height from the youngest cellist upwards. Beautifully engineered and incredibly practical.

As you might guess, the Jazz stand is not "cheap and cheerful", but we have another RAT stand, their "Scherzo", that is - only it too oozes quality. It's an incredibly lightweight folding stand in a bag, beautifully made, and weighing in at a mere 742 grams including the bag ! All that for less than twenty quid.

Oh, and one more thing....RAT Manufacturing = British Company !!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Another Flute Giveaway !

Every now and again we have to have a move-around of stock, making way for new lines, featuring different instruments, and just creating a bit of space. This can result in some of our demonstration instruments needing to be sold off at very low prices.

Today, fortune smiles on Flute players. We have just ONE Pearl PF-525 flute for sale at half-price, that's £249 instead of £499 !

The PF-525 is a high-quality silver-plated flute with precious metal lip-plate and riser. It features French-pointed keys and pinless mechanism, which reduces the likelihood of corrosion in the mechanism. Pearl Flutes are renowned for good intonation.

This is a seriously good flute at a bargain-basement price!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Carbon Fibre Rules !

With the diminishing supplies of legal pernambuco for bows, more and more makers are turning to carbon fibre for high-quality bow making. The best examples (Arcus, Coda, Chen) are becoming popular with accomplished players and professionals. The German maker Hofner is now producing a seies of relatively inexpensive Carbon fibre and CF composite bows from about £50 upwards. They are well-balanced and robust. Certainly worth a serious look if you're hunting out a new bow.

Carbon Fibre is also becoming more and more popular for lightweight Cello cases. We've just received a very handsome lightweight (3.5kg) cello case from MMX that combines incredible strength with a very attractive appearance. It's available in a range of colours. Regrettably, even Pink has been mentioned! This sort of quality doesn't come cheap - £699 - but if you have a cherished cello, it's a fair deal for peace of mind.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Product of the Week !

Every now and then you find something that solves all sorts of little problems in a simple but effective way. It's so clever you just want to smile at it.

We've just received into stock an amazingly good violin pick-up. Extremely quick and simple to fit, and easy to take it off when you've finished with it, no damage or alterations to the instrument, produces excellent sound, AND it costs less than twenty quid !!

So bring your fiddles down and try it out - and that includes you, Mr Lakeman !

Friday, 8 October 2010


Here's an opportunity for a flute player with aspirations - a chance to buy a secondhand (but only just) Miyazawa PB202E. We've sold these new before, but this recently ourchased one belongs to a customer who has subsequently had to "reprioritise " . It's a high-quality, hand-finished Japanese flute with a solid silver head, offset G, and with E mechanism.

What sets these flutes apart is the sheer craftsmanship, providing a marvellous range of tone and dynamics.

Less than a year old, this gorgeous instrument comes in a leather covered wooden case, with the usual accessories. The current list price of this flute is £2298, but the owner is willing to take a substantial drop on the original purchase price, willing to accept £1700, a saving of nearly £600 on the original price.

It's in the shop, waiting for the lucky purchaser to try it out................

Saturday, 25 September 2010

"Music is a Good Thing" Shock Result!

Well, we have it from the mouth of no less than Michael Gove, the Minister of Education, himself: "All young people should have the chance to learn an instrument, read music and receive a top quality music education".

In announcing a wide-ranging review of Music Education in the UK, it seems that the government is officially recognising the long-claimed benefits of a musical education, and recognising how much it can contribute to the "Big Society".

OK, so at this stage it's just so much hot air, but it's hot air moving in the right direction !

You can see the details at

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Back to the Grindstone!

After a month's dereliction of duty, your blogmonaut takes the reins again ! No I haven't been away on holiday, or ill, it's just that what little I've had to say recently has been completely sabotaged by utterly hopeless broadband performance. If you are ever approached by a company called Daisy Communications about phones or broadband, ask me before you sign anything !

Usually August is extremely quiet in music shops, and it's true many of our regulars disappear for a few weeks. However, behind the scenes, in the workshop, David has been slogging away remorselessly preparing hundreds of instruments for the new term, especially for Wider Opportunities programmes. All this on top of trying to run a top-quality instrument repair service. Time the poor chap had a holiday.

Meanwhile, in the shop we're not only getting ready for the September Recorder Rush, but the music for Christmas shows for schools will be coming out onto the shelves any minute now. We've already had the first orders for Carols for Choirs. Don't forget, the next Bank Holiday is Boxing Day!

Over the summer we've said goodbye to Dan Bayliss, who leaves us to study Saxophone in Birmingham, and we've had some new faces join us, and we hope you'll enjoy meeting them soon.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Coda Bows Back in Stock

At last we have the Coda Prodigy bows back in stock, at least, we have for Violin and Cello - sorry Violas, your time will come!

These excellent carbon-fibre bows have become a really popular choice among professionals and good amateur players, as they offer the characteristics of seriously expensive pernambuco bows for what passes for sensible money these days.

We have to keep them behind the counter, as they tend to get nicked - seriously! - so don't be too shy to ask to see them.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Anyone for Tyberg ?

An interesting new release from Naxos - Symphony No3 and a Piano Trio by Marcel Tyberg. Yet another hugely talented composer who perished at Auschwitz, whose manuscripts have belatedly surfaced in Buffalo, USA.

The symphony is an attractive work, with echoes of Mahler and Brahms, and it's given its fiest recording by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

It is coupled with a Piano Trio that I haven't got around to hearing yet, but the blurb assures us that the work is "imbued with the spirit of Beethoven and Mendelssohn, his Piano Trio brims with a richly Romantic esprit. "

Buy it for yourself, or as a present - it's one CD you can be certain they don't already have!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

What's in a Name?

On Saturday, a lady came into the shop with an oboe. "I'd like to see Mr Ovary about my Oboe" . Mr Ivory was produced to see to the oboe, the lady apologising for getting his name wrong.

A little work was needed on the instrument, so the lady arranged to come back during the afternoon.

She returned after some hours, and said " I've come to see Mr Ivory - he's mending my Ovary"

Well, he's a very clever man, but he doesn't mend those!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Naxos Notes

July releases include Mendelssohn's complete incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream, with spoken text and melodramas in English. However, it might be in a New Zealand accent, as it's the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd. Whatever your feelings about antipodean pronunciation of the Mother Tongue, the music is wonderful !

Ian Burnside, recently removed from Radio 3 in suspicious circumstances, accompnaies Roderick Williams in a disc of Songs by George Butterworth, a wonderful composer cut down in his prime in the First World War. Another English composer who deserves to be better-known is Cyril Scott, and his three sonatas for Violin and piano make up an enjoyable disc from Clare Howick and Sophie Rahman.

Other rarities to emerge this months include Cimarosa's Requiem, Casella's Second Symphony, Franz Schmidt's third, and Havergal Brian's Eleventh and Fifteenth. Piano music on disc from Ferdinand Ries (Beethoven's student and assistant), Anton Rubinstein, and finally, one of Arensky's Piano Pieces and Etudes.

Lovers of the Clarinet will be pleased to see a coupling of Copland's Concerto (one of my faves) with a Concerto by Robert Aldridge, of whom I for one, have never heard, but it's said to be "a direct descendant of the Copland". If it has anything approaching the haunting, magical atmospher of the Copland, it'll be a treat !

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

June Emerson New Publications

We've just unpacked the latest batch of new publications from June Emerson. That woman will stop at nothing to keep wind players busy!

There are two arrangements of Gershwin's "Promenade" - also known as "Walking the Dog", from the 1937 film Shall We Dance . One is for flute choir, around grade 5-6 standard, the other for Saxophone Quintet (SAATB) . There is also an arrangement for wind quintet of Scott Joplin's Bethena, although it's aimed at players of Grade 6/7 standard.

There is a trio for Oboe, Violin and Piano called Air Variations and Finale by one Dorothy Howell, (1898-1982), apparently once referred to as "the finest woman composer of her era", although I'll be the first to admit I hadn't heard of her. Standard is quoted as Grade 8, for what is described as a "beautiful, lyrical work."

Bassoonists will make a meal of Four Tasty Morsels by Paul Lewis, or perhaps they could be an hors d'oeuvre to the virtuosic Airs Suedois for Bassoon and Piano by Bernhard Crusell.

Holst's Brook Green Suite, originally written for strings, has been arranged for Oboe and Piano by Russell Denwood. Clarinettists are treated to a Sonatina by Paul Carr, a piece called Gallimaufry by Jonathan Cooper and 21st Century Studies by Colin Radford. There's a Sonatina for Solo Saxophone and a three movement piece for Trumpet and Piano called Revelry by Philip Godfrey.

All these are in stock, now,available to browse.

Fortunately, there is absolutely NOTHING for Vuvuzela.

Yes, We Have No Vuvuzelas !

As a contribution to peace and quiet in general, we have decided not to stock Vuvuzelas - the dreadful plastic horns originally intended to scare baboons, that are making the background noise to World Cup Football matches so tedious.

We don't really need them - we already have lots of things that make noises of various degrees of unpleasantness !

I was going to make a list of the most objectionable instruments and sound effects, but I'd only upset someone. It's difficult to make a nasty sound on a harp, but more or less any instrument can be played or abused in a way that makes the eyes water - and there's a cue for a load of jokes about incompetent instrumentalists.

Anyway, we've decided that 140Db is OTT. Nobody needs it.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Call of the Bewildering...

Many years ago, we started keeping a collection of tales of some of the funniest things that have happened in the shop. I came across the folder by accident this morning, and had a look. Some of the entries are hilarious. Some are so un-hilarious you wonder why anybody bothered to write them down. Some of the funny conversations with customers have been repeated so often that they’re no longer surreal, merely routine. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked if I know who wrote Pachelbel’s Canon.

Many of the best ones are telephone conversations. I remember picking up a phone call one night just after we’d closed. The voice said “Is that Mr Pullman?”

“No we don’t have a Mr Pullman. Perhaps you have a wrong number. This is Balaams Music on 766933 “

“Are you a trombonist?” asked the caller, in a baffling non sequitur.

“No I’m not..”

“Then how do you know that 766933 is Balaam’s Music ?”

“Because I am answering the phone from there”

Caller hangs up…..

Monday, 31 May 2010

Sale Extended one More Week !

We've decided to keep the Balaam's Music May Sale going for one extra week in June.

As it's half-term week, there will be plenty of people who haven't had the chance to stock up on music with the extra discount, and we've still got loads of special offers to put out!

Remember that VAT is almost certain to go up later this month, so there is every reason to buy that special instrument now.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Naxos - Busting out all Over !

The June releases from Naxos arrived this morning. First out of the box is a collection of Choral music by Eric Whitacre. Although still a relatively young man – he was born in 1970 - Whitacre’s music is becoming increasingly popular with choirs and choral societies. We’ve certainly sold hundreds of his choral parts in the last couple of years, with pieces like Lux Aurumque and Water Night leading the way. It’s interesting, beautiful, music with original textures and sonorities, set to a wide variety of texts. Performed by a top Canadian chamber choir, the Elora Festival Singers, conducted by Noel Edison, it’s a highly enjoyable fiver’s worth. (That’s if you buy three other Naxos CDs – you get four for twenty quid !)

Next we have a real rarity – the opera Lurline by one William Vincent Wallace, of whom I’m not ashamed to say I’d never heard. The setting of the opera is the Lorelei Rock in the Rhine, on which the siren Lurline played her enchanting harp to lure fishermen to a watery grave. Richard Bonynge has prepared a new performing edition of this work, which was declared a complete success by Vitorian theatre critics, and ran for a “substantial” number of performances. A double CD, at £9-99 – certainly one for lovers of opera rarities to investigate.

On more familiar territory, the next in the series of Haydn Masses features the ever popular Nelson Mass, and the St Nicholas Mass.

Beethoven String Quintets – surprisingly obscure – are unearthed by the Fine Arts Quartet, joined by Gil Sharon on Viola. The first, Opus 29 in C major comes between the well known opus 18 quartets and the Rasumovsky quartets. The second, Opus 104, is an arrangement of his early Piano Trio in C minor, and the Fugue in D major is a musical curiosity, written as an inducement to his publisher to make fewer printing errors.

Other highlights for June include Chansons de Mer by Charles-Marie Widor (yes, that Widor!), a collection of Sephardic Romances and Songs, a 3-CD set of Mozart’s Idomeneo, a historic recording of two operas by Gian Carlo Menotti, the Consul and Amelia al Ballo. And finally an intriguing collection of twentieth century music for Clarinet and Clarinet Ensemble entitled Clarinet Hive.

That’s just the ones that I picked out. There are 28 releases scheduled on Naxos for June. Anybody buying them all will get an extra-specially large discount !

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Good Turnout !

Our “Sing Up” workshop went really well last night. We had about a couple of dozen teachers attend, and Ben Parry, who led the event, and the ladies from the Sing Up office seemed pleased with the turnout, and the venue, The Malthouse Project, just off Risbygate Street.

In fact everyone was so pleased, we’re going to try to put on some more events of a similar nature. Make sure we’ve got your email address - just send an email to and make the subject “Promotions”. We’ll make sure you know when our next event takes place.

As a bonus last night, there were plenty of pastries left over, so I was able to make up a “doggy bag” to take into the shop this morning. Didn’t last long!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Free Sing Up Workshop Tuesday 25th May

It's not too late to register for our free "Sing Up" workshop on Tuesday at the Maltings Project (lovely building if you haven't been inside before - just behind our shop. Park in the St Andrews St North Car Park!)

It's a workshop led by specialists from Faber Music, and the idea is to explore repertoire for singing in Key Stage 1 & 2. There will be a chance to share techniques and ideas with other teachers, and a chance to look at some of the latest Sing Up publications - PLUS - refreshments and a free Sing Up Goodie Bag!

There is NO CHARGE for any of this!

Tuesday 5:30 to 6:30 - book your place by emailing Kate Wakeling on with your name and contact email address.

Friday, 21 May 2010

A Surprising Day

Life never ceases to surprise: possibly the slowest day at the till for ten years..... and then, by the end of the day, we've sold two more Roland pianos. (And delivered two - the A team doesn't hang about!)

Perhaps people really are waking up to the VAT hike. I was beginning to think they all had so much money they weren't bothered about it. What with that and twelve months interest-free credit, I suppose it's not surprising. The more savvy customers are realising what a brilliant deal it is.

Have to order more Roland pianos on Monday I suppose.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A selection of the Bargains on Offer!

Sale price (RRP)
Beijing Workshop 3/4 Cello Outfit £299 (£399)
Yamaha V5 Violin Outfit £199 ( £311)
Christian Hammig 16"Viola £295 (£395)
Elkhart Black Alto Saxophone Outfit £299 (£425)
Carlsbro Sherwood 30 Acoustic Combo £99 (£149)
Dragon 5 Piece Drum Kit (Red) £199 (£299)
Ozark Thinline Electro Acoustic with Hardcase £295 (£425)
Guitar Hero World Tour (PS2 Version Only) £99 (£169)
Hercules Mic Stand £30 (£37)
Lag Jet Electric Guitar £149 (£229)
Medeli Digital Drum Practice Pad £39 (£59)
Sonix 5 Piece Drum Kit £249 (£329)
Sonor Force 1007 Natural Drum Kit £599 (£715)
Sonor Force 507 Black Drum Kit £420 (£489)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Unnecessary Scaremongering - or not?

One feature of our sale that I haven’t mentioned is that it’s almost certainly a last chance to buy an Instrument or Equipment before the VAT rate goes up. All political and economic commentators seem to regard it as inevitable. Personally I think it’s possible it could go up as high as 25% - it’s been there before, and the new regime might want to get all its bad news out of the way at once, and blame Gordon and his pals for it.

This really could now be the right time to buy that Roland Piano, or any other professional standard instrument. Even if the price seems a little daunting, we can talk about ways of making it less so. I have a new scheme up my sleeve…………

(To be continued..)

Shivering Spring Sale !

Our Spring Sale has started, not so much with a bang as with a shiver. Outside temperatures that would be normal in January, but not in mid-May. Let’s hope the global warming sets in again in time for some of the Bury Festival’s outdoor events. In any normal year the Festival manages to lay on a decent thunderstorm to drench revellers in the Abbey Gardens, and let’s hope it warms up sufficiently to continue the tradition. I see the Bury Fringe, already started, is largely confined indoors, and very sensible too!

It’s always a problem deciding what to put in the Sale, as it’s such a very specialised market. Offers of Saxophone accessories only appeal to sax players, Keyboard players don’t have much call for digital tuners, and so on. So to make an attractive offer, to lure customers into the shop, we’re offering a discount of 15% off all instruments and accessories, as long as you spend over £100, and 20% off Printed Music and books as long as the spend is over £20. Obviously, it only applies to stuff we have in stock.

There are some notable bargains in our small amplifiers, with a few end-of-line items waiting to be snapped up, like a Torque 100 watt reverb combo reduced from £379 to £149.

More bargains to follow !

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The next small thing.......

The fastest-growing instrumental trend in the last two years has been the Ukulele. Every so often a particular instrument catches the public’s imagination, and sales just go on rising. In the eighties, James Galway was in the charts, and flute sales just soared. It was the sax solo at the end of “Baker Street” that set saxophone sales on an exponential curve in the nineties. When the BBC started the first series of “Fame” lots of people, especially girls, took up the cello.

We haven’t really had a particular instrument catch on in quite the same way since “Fame” and much time has been spent speculating at trade fairs and conferences – often in bars, believe it or not – about what instrument would be the Next Big Thing.

I think it’s fair to say that the ukulele didn’t figure highly in these discussions. I don’t think it figured at all. All the instrument dealers were hoping it would be something fairly expensive. Enter the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, with their super-cool, humorous and very classy musicianship. Their gigs sold out months in advance, and there was a triumphant evening at the Albert Hall with an audience –participation version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for hundreds of ukuleles.

It turns out that the Ukulele was a particular passion of George Harrison, and many another demigod guitarist appears to do “a bit of Uke on the quiet”. It’s a small, convenient, very social instrument, suited to small gatherings. It’s also fairly inexpensive, ranging from twenty quid to over a hundred. With only four strings, the chords aren’t too complex, and most people can manage to perform something after a little practice.

Needless to say, the Music Publishing industry has not been slow to reflect the taste of the public. As our own sales of ukuleles soared in the shop, every month has brought new releases of Ukulele Tutor books and methods. There’s even one for a classroom method for Ukulele, as it’s being used in Wider Opportunities projects in Schools. However, I think some kind of summit has been reached this month, when a major publisher proudly announced “AC/DC for Ukulele”.

It’s the irony that’s so cool.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Oh to be in England !

The great Volcanic Ash Scare has now receded, gone the way of Bird Flu, the Millennium Bug and the many other scare stories intended to increase sales of something or other. Gone too, at least for the moment, seems to be the good weather, which was such a consolation after such an unforgiving, harsh winter. But what I will remember this April for, apart from my mum’s 90th birthday party, is Saturday April 17th, when Bury St Edmunds filled up with Morris Dancers. Apparently there were over 600 of them from all over the country. The town was invaded by strangely costumed men and women, with dancing taking place in almost any space available, including the Cattle Market, the Traverse and the Abbey Gardens. All day long there was a wonderful atmosphere in the town, music and laughter to accompany the dancing. There were accordions, melodions, banjos, drums and fiddles. No doubt there were others that I missed.

The idea was for the nation's Morris sides to gather in one place once a year to celebrate their exemption from the lamentable licensing laws that have proved to be such a blight on live music in this country. I note with regret this does not appear to be an election issue, which is a shame, but it has done so much to damage life in our towns and villages, as well as big cities, and has completely altered the policing agenda of most forces, that I'm sure it will be revised sooner rather than later.
Morris and Molly dancing has origins that are lost in the impenetrable mists – or myths –of time. I watched one particularly macabre dance with two hooded characters who ended up with nooses around their necks. Swan Lake it was not! Resonant with folk-lore and timeless stories, Morris is an endlessly fascinating well for the soul to draw on. A new book by one Cole Moreton even suggests Morris Dancing will take the place of religion in English culture in years to come. It’s certainly welcome back in Bury St Edmunds whenever they want!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Some New CDs

We’ve just received the list of new releases for May from Naxos, and it looks like a much more interesting selection of music than they have managed of late.
Pride of place will no doubt go to the latest in the series of Shostakovich Symphonies from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Vasily Petrenko. This time it’s the dramatic and intense Symphony No 8, Come to think of it, you could describe a lot of Shostakovich like that.

The critical acclaim that greeted Symphonies 5, 9 & 11 from Petrenko and the Liverpool Phil means this is a must-hear recording. Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Liverpool Phil, as my Auntie Joyce played in it for years, and it was the first orchestra I ever heard live.

Another release that won’t escape the attention of the critics will be Marin Allsop’s reading of Dvorak 7 and 8, following on from her superb offering of the New World last year. She was one of Leonard Bernstein’s most successful pupils, and to my way of thinking, she learned what needed to be learned, and managed to avoid some of the excesses of the master. Perhaps you don’t agree, but it’ll be interesting to see if she can come up with a fresh take on both these symphonies. They are recordings of live performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The disc I’ll be dipping into first, as long as it actually does arrive on time, will be Arthur Bliss’s Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, and his Metamorphic Variations, both completely new to me. The Meditations is apparently a kind of tribute to the generation cut down in the first world war, including the composer’s own brother. I’m hoping these pieces will turn out to be another of the unexpected treasures that Naxos produces from time to time. I’m still enjoying the Aviv Quartet’s amazing recording of Erwin Schulhoff’s two quartets that came out last month.

The last of my pick of the new discs is of music by Erno von Dohnanyi. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t let the name put you off – this is great, tuneful, ravishing orchestral music with a twinkle in its eye ! Listen to the Variations, and you’ll see why that word sprang to mind! I promise you’ll enjoy back if not completely delighted!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Word of Mouth

Every so often the muse of comedy – Thalia herself - passes over Risbygate Street and scatters her magic dust upon us mortals. In fact I think she likes it around here, because she does pop in on a regular basis.

Imagine the scene – a busy Saturday in a well known music shop in East Anglia. A trumpet player decides to try out the latest gizmo from a leading manufacturer. It promises to improve his tone.

Sadly, this does not appear to be the effect. Having tried an admittedly entry-level instrument without the benefit of the gizmo, we fitted it, stood back and listened for the result,.

The customer was even less impressed than I was. “That’ s S*** ! Absolute C*@p Bl**dy Useless !!!”

Having got thus far into his peroration of profanities, he then noticed the presence of two young lads with their father, and, to his credit, immediately apologised for his use of bad language in front of the children.

“Oh don’t worry” replied the father, “they’re used to it”

“Oh” said the customer, “have you got one of these as well?”

Friday, 2 April 2010

Out of the Fridge

Suddenly we’re busy again! It’s as if the snow at Christmas sent our customers into hibernation, and although the snow’s long gone (fingers crossed!) they’ve stayed indoors, in the warm until the clocks have gone forward again. Yesterday customers were out in force – Yippee!- and we had a bumper day, which made a refreshing change. It has been very quiet.
The big internet sites have not been immune from the retail freeze – apparently even the mighty Amazon’s sales are down for the first time ever, according to one of our suppliers. Our own website is performing quietly in the background, providing a little extra business from around the country. I’m actually very pleased with it – there’s a gi-normous database of printed music and CDs which is kept up to date by a small workforce of gnomes (small workforce=pun, see?) in the middle of the Highlands of Scotland. They have been snowed in for most of the winter, which has been really good, as they haven’t had anything to distract them from keeping the website bang up-to-date. It’s now so good we are using it as the main reference catalogue in the shop. Saves us using a competitor’s site, which was a bit embarrassing!
Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of this hard winter by now. Here in Suffolk we’re still picking our way around the potholes in the road. Apparently the council are leaving the biggest ones so they can sell off the fishing rights later in the year.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Stocktaking Blues.

Stocktaking. Ugh. I hate it, and I dread it every year. It marks the end of this financial year, and the beginning of the next. The normal routine is completely suspended while I and all the staff count and list every item of stock from each Double Bass to the smallest drum tension bolt. It’s a monotonous and wearing chore, but it has to be done every year to see how much profit the business has made. Fat chance this year, I’m sorry to say, but we still have to do it.

It’s not an entirely negative process though. We always discover instruments, accessories and printed music that we didn’t know we had, that have either been mislaid, mislabelled or put in the wrong box. Or of course, you can simply forget. I’ve already discovered a second-hand Buffet Oboe whose presence was unsuspected. With the price oboes are nowadays, that’s a lucky discovery, and it will be a bargain for somebody sooner or later. We’ve always got a few instruments returned from our rental scheme, and we sell them off at a price that reflects the rental already paid, so there’s usually a bargain for somebody.

The other thing about stocktaking is that it means that spring has really arrived, thank God. It’s been a long time coming this year, and we’ll all be pleased to put the clocks forward an hour and enjoy the lighter evenings. Still too early for barbecues though!