Thursday, 13 December 2012

Andy Sheppard’s Saxophone Massive

Do you want to play alongside Andy Sheppard and huge numbers of other saxophonists on the opening night of the 2013 Bury Festival?

It doesn’t matter whether you are 7 or 77 or whether you have been playing for just a  few weeks or whether you are a seasoned professional, or whether you play soprano, alto, tenor or baritone… are all welcome.

If yes, then you will be part of Andy Sheppard’s Saxophone Massive of hopefully over 100 saxophonists all playing together on the opening night of the Festival (Thurs 16 May 2013).  If you are under 16 you will need to be accompanied by a parent or a responsible adult (preferably someone who will also be able to join in as a saxophonist).

Since its first outing in Bristol in 2006, the Saxophone Massive has now appeared at the London Jazz Festival as well as Norwich, Leeds, France, Norway and Switzerland.  A documentary was made by the Festival in Norwich which will give you more of an idea and you can watch it here:

If you think you might like to take part then please register your interest by emailing Michelle at with your name and email address and put Saxophone Massive in the subject field.  Alternatively, you can call her on 01284 758101.  

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Digital Piano Bargain of the Century !

OK, so the century's only a dozen years in, but we haven't seen anything better than this so far.

A full sized, 88-note keyboard, with Scaled Hammer Action for authentic Grand Piano feel, an incredibly realistic piano sound, in a traditional cabinet, all for £499-99.

Anyone looking for a good -quality piano, particularly parents of young learners, need look no further than the Celviano AP-220. It never needs tuning, doesn't mind the heat or the cold, and can be easily moved about by two normally fit adults without undue exertion! It can be played at unsocial hours using headphones, and has a range of voices and digital effects including transposition, pitch tuning, metronome, recording, duet mode, and, believe it or not, 16 different temperaments.

Most importantly, it's a decent piano at an absolute bargain price. Order yours now - they'll probably all be gone by Christmas!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Famous P- Bone !

Yes, it's here at last, in stock at Balaam's Music, the famous plastic trombone, the P-Bone !

It really works like a traditional Brass trombone, it's a fantastic, fun instrument, and it's a lot more resistant to everyday wear and tear than your average 'bone. Immensely appealing to the kid in all of us, it's also being taken on as an instrument for whole class learning at KS2.

Pitched in Bb, and available in six different colours, it's yours for just £119.

find out more at

Friday, 7 September 2012

Peculiar customers

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…..

No it doesn't make sense, does it?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Diddley Bow

Around a hundred years ago Delta Blues musicians made and played their own basic one-string ‘guitars’ and created powerful music. Sometimes known as ‘diddley bows’, ‘jitterbugs’ or ‘one-strings’ , the instruments were built from a wide variety of available (often discarded) materials. The single string was either hammered or plucked and different note pitches were obtained by sliding a bottle neck (or a key or any hard object) along the wire or guitar string .

It has been re-invented as the Nineboys Wedge, and we have it in stock, full of amazing possibilities. Watch the video at  and then come in and try ity out!

Next to it in the shop is another amazing guitar innovation.............but I'll tell you about that another day!

Friday, 20 July 2012

A World of her Own....

A friend of mine was recently asked to accompany a soprano singing at a funeral. Meeting up before the service, they had a fairly routine run-through of Schubert's Ave Maria.
"That'll be fine" she said, "but I don't know what to do if they want an encore...."

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Improve your Sax Life !

Here's a way to make your sax sound like a Yanagisawa (if it isn't already!) without spending a fortune:
1 Try a Yanagisawa mouthpiece on your Sax. £95  for the Alto
2. Try a Yanagisawa Crook on your Sax. £175 for the Alto, £195 for the Tenor.
Simple really.............
(These prices for stock items only)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Something Good Made in England !

Now that we’re so used to the high quality of some of the stringed instruments coming from China, it came as a surprise to find decent hand-made violins made in England for less than one might expect.

The Wessex Violin Co. aims to offer young musicians going to University or Conservatoire the opportunity to own a handmade modern interpretation of the English school of Violin making. The company is building on a tradition of English workshop craftsmanship, lost since the middle of the last century, and reinvigorated by the excellent tradition of the Newark school.

The instruments are made to the highest standards using Balkan maple and Bavarian spruce, and they are finished with a traditional chestnut-brown oil-based varnish that is intended to recreate the look of the great English makers Kennedy and Hill.

We have a pair in stock at the moment. They would be eligible for the Take it Away scheme if purchased for a young person under the age of 18.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Rebecca Clarke

I've been spending the last few days getting to know the viola music of Rebecca Clarke, which I first heard "blind" so to speak, not knowing who the composer was.

She was born in 1886, and as far as I can see, must have been one of the first really professional female musicians, working as a violist first in London, where she'd been taught composition by Stanford, and then in the USA. She must have been hot stuff, because she appeared with the likes of Heifetz.

Her most famous composition was the Viola Sonata of 1919 - which was considered too good to have been composed by a "mere woman" - but there are other absolute gems in her admittedly rather small output. Try "Morpheus" or "Lullaby on an Ancient Irish Tune". Each one is a real pleasure.

Try them all - there's a good CD of her compositions on Naxos, played by Philip Dukes and Sonia Rahman, along with Daniel Hope, and our one-time customer Robert Plane (he bought his first wooden clarinet here.)

Ironically in this week of International Womens Day, Rebecca Clarke appears to have been ignored by BBC Radio 3. But her work is so good it doesn't need special pleading.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

And Now Some Good News ....

The entire UK music industry is celebrating after the Live Music Bill passed its third reading and report stage in the House of Commons. The Bill, introduced by Lib Dem Peer Tim Clement-Jones and promoted in the Commons by Bath MP Don Foster, should now proceed to Royal Assent.

As a result, small venues wanting to host live music events will no longer need a local authority entertainment licence – cutting bureaucracy and expense, and making it easier for pubs and clubs to host live performances.

The current Licensing Act has created an excess of bureaucracy - making it almost prohibitive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs. Good to see politicians now doing something constructive, even though a lot of pubs amd small venues have already been closed down for good.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

John Myatt Memorial Concert

You may like to know that Janet Myatt is planning a Memorial Concert for her late husband John. It is planned to take place on February 4th at Blythburgh Church. The programme is to include Mahler Symphony No 5, Strauss Serenade for Wind Instruments and Bach Orhestral Suite in C
Accomplished string players are welcome to come and play - rehearse on the day and concert in the evening.
It should be a memorable event in a wonderful setting - Blythburgh Church is worth a visit itself!
Further details from Janet on