Friday, February 16, 2018

Valentines, Bongos and Cold Guitars

Happy Valentine's Week! We just decided amongst ourselves that one day wasn't enough. And we have SO many pretty in pink (and red!) things around the shop!

Happy Valentine's Day!
After all, nothing says "I love you" quite like new music gear!


For something interesting this week, check out this amazing email I got from our very own Dave:

"Just wanted to pass this onto you guys because i think it's an awesome story! One of my customers, Allan is currently working on a station in Antarctica. We have been keeping in touch while he's been down there. He sent me through this photo of his Fender Rumble that i sold him the week before he left. It had to fit inside the blue road case to take it with him to practice and continue writing stuff. He's formed a band down there with a couple of the other folks from the station.   They are called  Dr Al and the Survivors"

Ibanez Bass and Fender Amp from The Music Spot - in ANTARCTICA!!
It's amazing to see how far and wide the spirit of The Music Spot spreads, and how important music is to people in all facets in their lives.


Our favourite stock items this week are our great selection of Bongos and Congas.

Some of our Bongos and Congas instore

Percussion is such a fun area, and this week we are loving our collection of Bongos and Congas. Check out these Tycoon Percussion Congas with their own stand, perfect for beginners and seasoned players alike.

We also have many Bongos to choose from, including these bright red Meinl Headliners, or if you are after something different, these clear acrylic Meinl Headliners will definitely set you apart. Mano Percussion also make great Bongos, like these 7 & 8" Naturals, and if you love the two-tone retro look, these Gewas are brilliant.

Send in your pics and videos, we want to see you having some fun with these babies!


And let's round out the week with some wisdom from our friends the Good Fellas:


(If you can come in and tell us the answer to this, you will get $5 to spend on any guitar in the shop 😂)


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cajon Week at The Music Spot!

The first week of February has gone off with a BANG at The Music Spot! We have been crazy busy with Back To School sales, and have seen lots of happy parents and excited children getting their first instruments and Accessory Packs.

Plus, last weekend we held our monthly SaturdayImpactDay, which was a huge success. We were able to provide 350 days of clean water to families in Cambodia. A great feeling just for doing what we love! So be sure to pop in on the first Saturday of each month to be a part of this great opportunity.

This week we are celebrating all things Cajon! And as you can see from our video, these guys are awesome fun!




To summarise, Cajons are very popular these days in street performances, and can be seen on lots of street corners in capital cities. They make funky music that makes everyone wanna get up and dance. And you can have your very own pro level Cajon by nabbing one of our great deals:

Like this Meinl Headliner. Meinl are a big name in all things Percussion and you know you'e getting a great quality instrument here.

Latin Percussion are also known for great quality instruments, and this LP Black Box Cajon adds a sleek, sexy appearance to a great sound.

Speaking of adding appearance, check out this Tycoon Percussion Artist Series Retro Cajon.  It looks as sweet as it sounds!

If you're after a great quality instrument for a lower price, you can't go past this Tycoon 24 Series Box Cajon.

Dave with our new Tycoon Bubinga with Makah Burl Cajon

All in all, we have your Cajoon needs covered, and if you've never tried one before, I advise you pop into the shop and give them a test run. Music is fun! Enjoy it!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Make some noise for Percussion Month!

The moon is full (and blue. And bleeding and eclipsing, apparently), the smell of summer rain is in the air, and we are getting exciting about all things Percussion at The Music Spot this month.

Sean, Johnny & Dave celebrating Percussion Month

This week, we are starting off by looking at some of the more fun items - the movers and shakers, you could say ;)

Make some NOISE!

Percussion is not just about Drums. You can make awesome sounds with lots of other bits and pieces, that can really complete the sound you are going for. 

For example, these Hand Bells are not just for Santa Claus - they make a crisp, clear sound that will punctuate any rock rhythm. And speaking of rock, everything needs more cowbell ;) 

If you want something sweeter, higher pitched and tuned, try this Glockenspiel. Notes like a Piano; bashed like a drum. What's not to love?

If you've got a long red dress and a rose in your mouth, these Castanets would really complete the look. And these Egg Maraccas always sound great in any kind of music (so they would fit into your Flamenco routine as well!)

But it's not all just about fun and games. Serious percussionists will make great use of things like this CPK Wood Block, Mano Percussion Cabaza, and Tycoon Percussion professional Tambourine.

And we know no Orchestra is complete without a Triangle.

Hand percussion is also a great way for young children to become involved in Music and express themselves creatively. Kindermusik is a fantastic resource for children from birth to five years old, and uses these and other instruments in a fun and stimulating environment. Check out http://www.kindermusikwithjillian.com.au/ for more info.

We have all these great items and more at The Music Spot, so come on down and make some noise!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Back To School Pt 4 of 4: Accessories & Books

In the final installment of our Back To School series, this week we will have a look at the way we make parents' lives easier by having all your accessory needs sorted.

Our instore display of Accessory Packs
First of all, we have our ever-convenient website, with a special place for all your School Needs. Under this tab you will find all your Accessory Packs, School Books and even School Instruments.

Not sure which book you need? No problem, we have a list of all our local schools and which book they are currently using, right here. If you would like some more information about what this whole School Music business even means, I have written this helpful guide. So in short, we have been doing this a while now, and we know what you need even before you do ;)

Sean holding one of our Brass Packs
For the Brass players, we have specially made Packs that have the Care Kits you will need for cleaning and maintenance of your instrument, your school book and your home practice Music Stand, which comes in a convenient carry bag. We have these for Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone/Euphonium and French Horn, in all popular books.

Johnny with one of our Woodwind Packs
For Woodwind instruments, our Packs contain the Music Stand, Book, and Care Kit, as well as Reeds and a Strap. This means you will get everything you need to start playing straight away. Easy! We have these for Alto and Tenor Sax, Clarinet and Bass Clarinet, and for Flute players we have a special Pack that contains the Book, Stand and cleaning cloth(s).

Dave with a Percussion Pack
And we can't forget the Drummers - we have Percussion Packs which have the Book, Stand, specially selected Drum Sticks and a Practice Pad, to refine your technique without damaging your wrists. Available in all popular school Books, of course.

Marian with a String Pack
For the Orchestra, we have Packs for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass, containing Book, Stand, Rosin, Shoulder Rests for the Violin and Viola, Rubber Stops for the Cello and Double Bass, and a spare set of Strings for Violin. These come in different sizes, so make sure you know what size instrument you are playing for this year.

And if you have some of the required accessories at home already, you have the option to purchase the pack without a stand, or just buy the accessory items individually. We have all your needs covered, to make your Back To School time as headache-free as possible!

Come down to our Browns Plains superstore and grab all your school music needs in the one place. And enjoy the beautiful music that you will be hearing during this (and future!) years!




Friday, January 19, 2018

Secrets of the School Band Pt 2. - Woodwind Section

The third in our series on School Music - the Woodwind Section.
Photo by Ben Gesoff on Visual Hunt / CC BY
This is where the magic happens. As I write this, I'm listening to a very enthusiastic saxophone solo that's come up on our Spotify playlist - and watching the boys in the shop dancing around imitating the enigmatic sax player, who no doubt has an audience full of screaming fans watching him play live.

Everyone who grew up with The Simpsons wants to play sax. But it's not the only fish in the Woodwind sea - there are many just as exciting options for the child (or adult!) who wants to make music without the hassle of lugging a guitar (or drum kit!) around.

The Flute (Photo credit: ViNull on VisualHunt.com / CC BY)
One of the most popular instruments in the Woodwind section is the Flute. Today's school Flutes are made of silver or silver-plate, but back in the day - or even today in the really high end models - they were made of wood, hence the "woodwind" classification. They are played by blowing across the mouthpiece and holding out to the side, and make the sweetest sound - or you can jazz it up with some hip-hop tonging techniques  a la Future.

The Clarinet (Photo credit: elyaqim on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA)
The other most popular instrument in the School Band is the Bb (B Flat) Clarinet. Bands use Clarinets like Violins, so they have lots of them - they make up the bulk of  the sound. The Clarinet is a reed instrument, which means it is played by blowing over a thin reed in the mouthpiece, which vibrates, creating sound. So reeds are something you will need to keep a good stock of. But the investment is worth it - Clarinets make gorgeous music and can be very versatile - who can forget the Beatles' smash hit When I'm Sixty Four. Plus, they pack up into tiny cases which make for easy carrying. What's not to love?

An Alto Saxophone (Photo credit: Vince_Ander on Visualhunt / CC BY)
The Woodwind instrument that needs no introduction is the Saxophone. But did you know they come in different sizes? From the small, straight Soprano Sax, to the booming, massive Baritone Sax, this sexy beast has all music markets covered. But the two that are used in School Bands are the Alto (pictured) and the slightly larger Tenor. Made of brass, but classified as Woodwind due to the sound coming from the vibration of the reed, they are played in a very similar way to the Clarinet - in fact the Saxophone was invented by a man named Adolphe Sax, who wanted an instrument that was similar to the Clarinet, but easier to play. With the Clarinet, you need to learn different fingerings for each note, but on the Sax you can just hit an octave key and use the same fingering for say a high F# and a low F#. Another interesting point to note is that the famous saxophone used by Lisa Simpson is - for some reason - a Baritone. Bari Saxes are massive and not used very often in schools, due to simply being too big for most kids to handle. Interesting choice, Mr Groening.

Bass Clarinet (Photo credit: andrew lorien on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)
Apart from the Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax and Tenor Sax, the only other Woodwind instrument you are likely to find in a school band is the Bass Clarinet. It looks, and plays, just like the Bb Clarinet, but loooonger, and with a curved headjoint. This baby is usually given to the taller kids in the group, and there is usually only one per class. Beautiful, deep, soulful music comes out of these.

Our Woodwind Cabinet, featuring Tenor and Alto Saxes, Flutes and Clarinets
Here at The Music Spot, we stock all the popular school band instruments, and can order in the rarer items, like Bass Clarinet. We can even order Woodwinds that aren't played in school, like Oboes and Bassoons, in case you decide to take up something a little more.. extra ;)

As well as all the instruments, we also stock all the accessories you could ever need, as each instrument has it's own special requirements. Next week we will have a closer look at the way we make Back To School time easier for parents, with our pre-made Accessory Packs.

Until then, keep being awesome!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Secrets of the School Band Pt 1. - Brass Section

Following on from last week, this week we are going to take a look at the School Band.
School Band - Photo by CopaDave on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND
The Band is made up of Brass & Woodwind instruments, and this week we will start by having a look at the Brass Section.
Brass Section - Photo by Phil Roeder on Visualhunt.com / CC BY
Now, forgive me if I start gushing, because this is my favourite bit. I was a brass player myself a million years ago, and the beauty in the sound of a group of well tuned, well played brass instruments in second to none - imho.
Trumpet player - Photo on Visualhunt.com
One of the great things about Brass instruments, is that all of them - except the enigmatic Trombone - are played exactly the same way, with a buzzing mouthpiece, and three buttoned valves that lengthen and shorten the tube, thus changing the pitch and therefore the note being played. If you were like me as a child and thought you could only get three notes on a Trumpet, you are very wrong! The higher register is achieved by tightening the aperture  - which in the Brass section, is your lips - so the reason we look so impressed by Trumpet players hitting those really high notes is because it means they have really - really - strong lip muscles. And just like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised - it's better to do five minutes practice every day, than nothing for three days then an hour all at once. Ouch!
A Trombonist - Photo credit: rhwalker22 on Visualhunt.com /  CC BY
That enigmatic Trombone I mentioned has a slide instead of valves to change the length of the tube. This means two things: 1. you need longer arms to start on this baby, and 2. you can do an awesome party trick called a glissando - or gliss as the cool kids say - which is that long slidy note that goes from the bottom to the top in one smooth motion, the yyooooouuuuuUUUUPPPPP! This is what makes it so popular for so many different types of music. Every Trombone player I know is in at least three different bands. Choose this instrument and you will never be lonely!

Brass mouthpieces - Photo credit: ACE Foundation on Visual Hunt /  CC BY
So the thing that makes a Brass instrument a Brass instrument is the buzzing mouthpiece. It's a round cup shaped affair that you pop over your lips and blow a raspberry into. This is quite a feat, and takes practice to get it right. In the early years (and I know some professionals that still do this), it's not unusual to pop the mouthpiece into your pocket so you can sneak in a few minutes of practice during the day as you go about your routine. Also, the bigger the instrument the bigger the mouthpiece, and to an extent, the easier it is to get a sound out of. My first performance on the Trumpet (the smallest mouthpiece of the Brass family) was quite a long set, and left my lips swollen and bleeding. The conductor mentioned to me that maybe I'd be better off switching to a larger instrument for a while, as the mouthpiece wouldn't hurt me so much. I moved down to a Tenor Horn, and have never looked back. (The Tenor Horn is popular in traditional Brass Bands, but not in common use in school bands. The mouthpiece is the same size as the Trombone, so the next size down from the Trumpet is the Trom).

A Euphonium - Photo credit: Vater_fotografo on Visual Hunt /  CC BY-SA
So after the Trumpet and the Trombone, the next biggest instrument in the school Brass Section is either a Baritone Horn or a Euphonium, or in some cases, both. They are of similar size and shape, the difference being that the Eupho has a conical bore and the Bari has a straight bore. That might sound like a bit of a bore to you :P But the point of the matter is that the Baritone gives a sharper sound and the Eupho is a warmer tone. "Euphonium" is Greek for "beautiful sound" - and oh, it is.

The Tuba - Photo credit: usarmyband on VisualHunt /  CC BY
Heading in size order, the big boy of the band is the Tuba. You have to be pretty tough to play this baby. Simply holding it is a feat in itself. And you need a powerful set of lungs to push enough air through to get the big booming "BOOP" that it's famous for. The equivalent of the bass guitar in a rock band, it lays down the foundation for the music, and adds substance. And looks nice and shiny in the process!

French Horns - Photo credit: slgckgc on VisualHunt.com /  CC BY
The one-member-of-the-family-that-always-has-to-be-different of the Brass Section is the French Horn. Similar principles to  the rest of the family - buzzing mouthpiece and three valves - but the mouthpiece is more like a cone than a cup (I've never tried one, but it looks ouch!), and keys instead of buttons. It also looks different, being very decoratively arranged in a circular shape. The pay off for all this is that is sounds AH-MAAAH-ZING. If the Euphonium is "Beautiful", then the French Horn must be "GORGEOUS".

Photo credit: TheodoreWLee on Visualhunt /  CC BY-ND
At the end of the day, the choice to play a Brass instrument is something that will set you up for the rest of your life. Learn one, you've automatically learnt them all. Play literally any genre of music you can think of, and sounds awesome while you're doing it. Low maintenance, cheap to run (really the only ongoing accessory you need is valve oil), lightweight and something you can carry with you everywhere (well the smaller members of the family at least - not many people could pop a Tuba in their handbag!) - and the age old tradition of Brass Bands that I hinted at earlier (go Google it now - I'll wait!) is still alive and well in every city - so your social life will thank you. Now I may be biased, but I think little Johnny coming home and saying he's just joined the School Music Program and wants to play Trumpet (or Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, French Horn or even Tuba) would be music to my ears - literally :)


The Music Spot display table at a School presentation night
And we at The Music Spot know that journey very well, so we have made it very easy for you to get all the accessories you need, in one convenient package. We also have the books that each school requires, and stands to put then on, and expert advice if you are feeling overwhelmed at beginning this exciting journey. Come and have a look at our Brass Cabinet today!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Secrets of the School Orchestra

Has your child been chosen to do music at school this year?

First of all, congratulations! And second, this is a wonderful journey that will benefit your child - and all those around them - for years to come. And there's no rule that says only children can learn these instruments - they can be a fulfilling part of life for people of any age. So let's take a closer look at some of the ins and outs of the School Instrumental Music Program - this week we'll have a look at the Orchestra.

Photo by woodleywonderworks on Visualhunt / CC BY

The Orchestra is made up of stringed instruments - Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass. You might recognise these as the instruments that send chills up your spine in scary movies, or make you cry in rom-coms, or generally just move your emotions in whichever way they want you to go. The string section is always in demand, and a Violin can make rock, pop, hip hop, jazz - anything you can think of - as well as classical music.

 Photo by Mathias Gawlista on Visual hunt / CC BY
So the Violin is the smallest of the String Family, and the most popular - the school orchestra will have lots more Violins than Violas, Cellos and Basses. Violins are played by holding the instrument on your shoulder under your chin, holding down strings with fingers on your left hand and sweeping a bow across the strings with your right hand. The bow is made of horsehair, so to get it to grip the strings enough to cause the vibration that makes the sound, you will need to purchase rosin. To get it sitting right on your shoulder, you will need to purchase a shoulder rest. The Violin usually comes with a case and a bow, so those are really all you need to get playing.

Photo by Joni.Maccheroni on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

The Viola is slightly bigger than the Violin, and just to be different - very different - it uses the Alto Clef. That's a weird kind of clef in between the Treble and Bass clef, so the bad news is that you would need to learn a different clef if you wanted to play any other instrument. The good news is that not many people choose to take this challenge - so if you become a reasonably good Viola player, you will be well sort after - much less competition than for Violin. Like the Violin, you need rosin and a shoulder rest, and they usually come with a case and bow.

Photo by limaoscarjuliet on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

The next biggest is the Cello. This is a sit-down-type affair, typically played by sitting in a chair and holding the instrument in front of you. They make beautiful deep, soulful music that can really stir the emotions. Like all string instruments, rosin is a requirement, but you don't need a shoulder rest for this one - rather, you will need a small black rubber thingy to stop it sliding all over the floor while you're trying to play. Called a rubber stop, end pin holder or even black hole, they go by many names but serve a simple, but essential, function.

Photo by garryknight on Visual hunt / CC BY

The big boy of the family is the Double Bass, also known as String Bass and Upright Bass. Played standing up and either plucked like a Guitar or bowed like a Violin, these guys are synonymous with jazz, blues, drum-and-bass, all kinds of cool music. Like all the others in the string family, they come typically come with a case and bow, but like the Cello you will need to purchase rosin and a rubber stop.

If your child is doing Orchestra at school, they will be instructed to purchase a book and music stand, along with the aforementioned accessories. We also have spare strings for each instrument.

Our Orchestral Instruments cabinet

At The Music Spot we have been looking after local schools for over 25 years now, and understand the needs of new students very well. If you need any instruments, accessories, books, service or advice, pop into the shop at 129 Browns Plains Rd, Browns Plains QLD, or give us a call on 07 3800 5229, text on 0411 088 440, or email on info@musicspot.com.au and we will help you with all your music needs.

And remember: it's never too late to learn, if you would like to embark on this magical journey yourself ;)


PS. Tune in next week to explore some of the other instruments that are played at school!