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.