Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Drummers Wanted for Olympics Opening Ceremony

London 2012 Ceremonies Ltd are seeking volunteer drummers for the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The organiser is looking for people with good percussion and drumming experience, enthusiasm, personality, a positive attitude, a great deal of energy and a willingness to perform in front of a stadium audience and to millions of people around the world.

Applicants must be 18 years or older on March 1st 2012 and able to meet the commitment requirements for rehearsals. Previous performance experience is not required.

To find out how to apply for an audition and for full detail on the commitments involved go to

The closing date for applications is January 9th 2012

Saturday, 17 December 2011

NAXOS - Going Up !

Naxos CDs have announced a price rise from January 2012. It's the second price rise in 14 years - the swine! From January 3rd the normal retail price will be £6-99, so stock up now with our Special Offer of Five Naxos Single CDs for £25 - that's a saving of £9-95 on the new prices !
Doubles count as two (obviously!) and special orders after December 31 won't be included in this offer.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Wherever You Are

It’s not too late to include what will be (with any luck!) the Christmas number 1 in your choir’s Christmas Concert – we have the music in stock!
Written for SSA chorus and Piano. This is the original arrangement as sung by the Military Wives Choir.It’s also available for SATB or TTBB or as a solo/unison songCommissioned by Gareth Malone for Series Four of BBC TV's 'The Choir' and first performed by Malone and the Military Wives' choir as part of The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on 12th November 2011 in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.A favourite for the 2011 Christmas Number One, with support from radio DJ Chris Evans who has suggested every choir in the country should sing this song, it's the biggest threat to X-Factor chart domination this year.The text is taken from poems, letters and prayers written by the Military Wives, selected and adapted by Paul Mealor, and a passage from the Book of John. A lovely tear-jerker in support of a good cause.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Sad News

Older customers ( and many ex-employees) will be saddened to hear of the death, at the age of 93, of Ron Ely.
Ron was working for H.M. Bonniwell and Son when Albert Balaam bought the business in 1956. His professional training was as a piano tuner, at which he had few equals. He also turned his hand to the repair of most instruments that came his way, including the early guitar amplifiers and electronic organs.
Ron was also an extremely accomplished musician, having performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto as soloist in Sheffield, and he led countless orchestras, and bands for shows at the Theatre Royal in his native Bury St Edmunds. He was also a very tidy sax player, having appeared in some of the top professional dance bands of the early fifties.
Ron was much loved by the members of local groups in the sixties and seventies, who often depended on Ron to get their equipment working for gigs at the weekend. To the end he maintained that one particular regular, now an internationally famous film star, had run off with his favourite screwdriver in one such crisis, and this was never forgiven!
Ron was a man of enormous skill, prodigious technical knowledge and musical accomplishement. He had a kind heart and a great sense of humour, and will be mourned by all who knew him.

Ron's funeral is at St John's Church, Bury St Edmunds on Friday 16th December at 12 noon. No flowers, but donations to Musicians' Benevolent Fund, c/o Clutterhams Undertakers.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Mystery of Christmas

This mystery isn't the traditional one - far from it. The mystery is that every Christmas our website turns up on the front page of Google for people searching for Thomas Merritt, a Cornish composer who died in 1908. We don't know why this happens, and we certainly didn't do anything to bring it about, but Google obviously moves in a mysterious way. Because of that, we always take care to keep a stock of Merritt's collection of Carols, which we send to customers all over the world.

Not much else of Thomas Merritt's music survives, but there's a little information to be found at

and you can buy a book of his Carols from a certain music shop in Bury St Edmunds.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Wrap Up a Piano !

This Christmas we are offering a limited number of Casio Privia PX-730 Digital Pianos at an incredible 32% off the list price ! Down from £729.99 to £499.99 (that's five hundred quid in retail-speak) it's also eligible for the Take-it Away scheme if purchased on behalf of someone under 18.

The PX-730 is a full size, 88 key piano, with scaled hammer action for a great feel, and something called "Linear Morphing AIF" which makes it sound terrific. In fact there's a lot of techno-speak to be had with this particular piano, but like most people, I'm not really interested. It just sounds really good, and plays really well.

It's finished in a stylish and compact matt black which will look great in practically any decor. Santa may have a problem negotiating the chimney with it, but don't worry, we deliver for free within 50 miles!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Why a ukulele maybe the key to a happy retirement

A recent study has confirmed what we all know, that making music is the key to a happy life, particularly among the retired.

The Daily Telegraph reports that researchers found that pensioners who learned to play instruments such as the Ukulele, or who sang in choirs, enjoyed themselves more than those who took up painting or yoga, or joined book groups. They had a more positive outlook, felt more in control of their lives, and said the activity kept their minds sharp. One woman who took up music after the death of her husband, said “Singing is always uplifting, and it is difficult to be sad while playing the Ukulele”

The Telegraph illustrates this article with a picture of Marilyn Monroe playing a Ukulele. For serious students of having a good time, here she is!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Serious Bargain for a Serious Cellist

We've just received into stock an Eastman Young Master Cello. A handsome instrument in very fine tonewoods, looking just like an eighteenth century masterpiece, with a glorious sound to match. Strung with Larsen strings, it retails at £1990.

No, it's not cheap, but for one (only!) lucky buyer, that price will include an LG Chen Wood-veneered carbon-fibre bow, and a superb K2 Carbon-fibre case in the most incredible iridescent finish, making a combined total retail value of £3176 - so a total saving of £1186 !

And if it's bought for an under-18, it can go on the Take-it-Away scheme !

Is that a stampede I hear in the distance..............?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Free Money for Young Musicians

We've just had the wonderful news that the TAKE IT AWAY scheme - for the interest-free purchase of musical instruments - is to be re-introduced for the parents and guardians of musicians under 18 years old.

This is fantastic news for the parents of young players considering investing in a decent instrument. They will be able to buy more or less any instrument over £100 with a 10% deposit, and nine monthly instalments of the same amount. Saxophones, Flutes, Guitars, Drum Kits, Pianos - they're all eligible.

We have most of the details already, and the new scheme is set to go live tomorrow, October 21st (Trafalgar Day, for those who still care about such things)

The whole application process happens in the shop, using our online application facility, and normally takes only a few minutes.

It's a great victory for musical instrument buyers - come and take advantage !

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Back from my Hols

Back from Holidays to find it's nearly half-term already. And flying off the shelves is a new tutor book called "Vamoosh" for young string players. It has really caught on exceptionally quickly, pinching some sales from the well-established Fiddle Time Joggers series.

Like FTJ, Vamoosh caters for Violas and Cellos, as well as violins, and there is support material for the teacher, as well as a piano accompaniment book. And then there's the matter of price: Pupils book including a CD is less than a fiver!

No wonder it's caught on so quickly!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Discovery !

We received the June releases from Naxos this morning, including several copies of the world premiere recording of a Violin Concerto by Respighi.

If you don't recognise the name, you may already know some of his music, for instance the lovely orchestral suite "The Birds" that used to introduce "Going for a Song" the first popular TV antiques programme. "The Pines of Rome" is another superb orchestral showpiece, worth seeking out if you don't know it already.

The violin concerto just released harks back to the writing of Vivaldi and Mendelssohn, and foreshadows the orchestral technicolour of his later works. It's the first time it has ever been recorded, and its arrival is to be warmly welcomed. There are three very attractive fillers included on the disc, a snip at £5-99 !

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


It's Bury Festival again, and therefore time for BALAAMS MUSIC SPRING SALE !!
Time to take the plunge and get 15% discount off that really big purchase you've been thinking about. Pearl Solid Silver Flutes - Roland Pianos - Yamaha Pianos & Keyboards - Tanglewood and Faith guitars - Buffet Clarinets - Tama Drum Kits and some fantastic new Trevor James Saxophones.
There are also big savings on printed music as well as accessories, as long as you spend over £20.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Miyazawa Flutes

We've been appointed dealers for Miyazawa Flutes - fabulous hand-made instruments from Japan. We're stocking the 102, 202 and 402 models, full details at
The prices reflect the quality of top-of-the-range instruments as you would expect, but we have a range of options to help any intending purchaser.
With solid silver instruments from Miyazawa, Pearl and Trevor James, we now have a fine range of top-quality flutes.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Free Money for Musicians

Now that the Arts Council has narrowed eligibility for Take it Away (you have to be between 18 and 25 now) Roland has introduced an Interest-Free credit scheme open to everyone (subject to credit clearance, obviously). It's called Take it Today, and offers nine months interest free credit on any Roland prducts over £500. It takes about 15 minutes to do the online credit application and you can literally Take it Today (or have it delivered today, if we can manage it!)

Simple enough - except that nanny state insists that I now include the phrase "Representative 0% APR". Frankly, I think "Interest -Free Credit" is clearer. Anyway, you don't pay a penny extra for paying by ten equal instalments (the first one is the deposit).

Time for that nice new Roland piano......

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bridge Electric Violins

The latest arrivals here are a couple of Bridge Electric Violins. Radical design, dramatic paint finshes and a real pleasure to play!
We have the Aquila (4-String) models in stock. The Lyra 5-String should be with us in May.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Grab it before it's Taken Away !!

This is the last month of the Arts Council's Take it Away scheme in its present form. If you didn't know, the scheme is to help with the purchase of musical instruments up to £2000. Nine months interest free credit, a brilliant, easy scheme, open to more or less anyone solvent.

With the cuts to their budget, last November the Arts Council announced the scheme would change at the end of March. From April, it will be restricted to those in at least 16 hours employment per week, aged between 18 and 25. Specifically excluded will be parents buying instruments for their children to learn on. Some people say it's harsh. I think its b****y stupid, and will deprive a lot of would-be players of a decent instrument to learn on.

The Henley Report into Music Education, published last month, specifically recommended that Take it Away should be used to provide instruments for children learning to play. A great pity that they didn't notice that the Arts Council was saying precisely the opposite two months earlier.

Anyway, the point of this rant is to alert you to your last chance to buy a musical instrument with up to £2000 worth of interest free credit provided by the government. Even if you're only mildly interested, give John or Erin a ring on 0800 06 800 49.

Don't leave it too late!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Awesome Power

Every now and again we get a product that is just so incredibly good at its job, you just smile.

The AER Compact 60 Acoustic Amplifier is a mere 10" x 13" x 19" and weighs just 8kg (approximately) yet it produces 60 watts of pure undistorted power through two channels. It is a seriously powerful piece of kit in a tiny box. It's just unbelievable that such a tiny box can produce so much powerful undistorted sound.

It's ideal for acoustic guitarists, in fact any acoustic instrument will work well with it, as will digital drum kits. There are digital effects on board in case you want to play around with the sound, and it comes with a specially designed carrying case. Yes, a sixty watt amplifier combo that you can sling over one shoulder!

It's hand-built in Germany, so don't expect it to be cheap, but the sheer quality -- stunning!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Phone Trauma

Many thanks for the messages of sympathy and support.

We've almost got it sorted out now - but we're still finding odd things that have been affected. Voicemail to the workshop doesn't seem to work at the moment, and for a few days we weren't able to recredit the franking machine because it needs to (automatically) call a premium number to perform the transaction. We'd put a block on all premium line calls as soon as we found out what was going on, not imagining for one minute that regular activity would be affected. The result was that we had to queue up at the Post Office every day to get the internet and mail orders sent off. It was like going back to the stone age. How does the Post Office get away with making so many people waste so much time queueing? Answers on a postcard.....

Now comes the row about who pays for the three days of phone calls to premium numbers. I'm just relieved we weren't hit as badly as one victim, who was apparently taken for £18000 !

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

VAT Rise Non-News

The good news this January is that printed music and books are completely unaffected by the rise in VAT - because they've always been Zero-rated for VAT. It always surprises me how few of the general public realise that. There isn't VAT on fresh food either.

Lots of our products are not increasing in price- in particular Naxos CDs - still great value at £5-99. Inevitably a few of our suppliers have taken the opportunity to issue new price lists, incorporating the new VAT rate, but on the whole the effect on our prices will be barely noticeable. Not really surprising, as the amount of the increase is only one forty-seventh of the original price. Perhaps it's not such a big deal after all.....