Musical magic for Christmas gifts
We love sharing great white elephant gift exchange ideas with you. The recreation team at AlbinoPhant have created a couple of music related gift parties: Handel’s Gift Exchange and the Caroling Exchange..
With these variations of the white elephant gift exchange you might want to expand the party to include gifts with a musical focus. The following are some ideas for gifts that would enhance the party theme.
What will budding musicians be finding under their Christmas trees this year?
The trade group National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and Making Music magazine have just come out with their forecast of the hottest instruments and gear for the upcoming holiday season. Based on recent sales increases, high-tech keyboards, old-school ukeleles and compact guitars are among the items striking the right chords with buyers lately.
Is it possible that some people are actually disconnecting from those video games where they pretend to be rock stars in the virtual world, and spending more time playing real instruments in their real lives? As one national store chain operator told the forecast’s authors, a basic need for personal enjoyment is feeding sales of ukeleles, acoustic guitars and high-tech DJ gear.
“Most people who buy a ukulele or a DJ machine don’t buy it because they’re starting a rock band; it’s something they’re doing at home or for family parties,” said Pete Gamber, an educational spokesman for the instruments retailer Music & Arts.
Experts say these five categories could keep music instrument stores humming during the coming shopping season:
Ukes on the upswing – Ukeleles have lately been everywhere in pop culture, thanks to musicians like Jason Mraz , Bruno Mars and the band Train featuring them prominently in recent songs. The merchants group says ukelele sales rose 54 percent in 2011 over the prior year. Experts say the uke trend has entered a second phase, with makers like Ohana Music offering models with high-end features, such as tortoise shell bindings and abalone inlays.
Small guitars are big sellers – Acoustic guitar sales rose 15 percent last year, according to the industry publication Music Trades. Shoppers are now seeing stores carrying a new category of compact, travel-friendly guitars that are priced to attract beginners. Models from companies like Taylor Guitars, for instance, are sized to allow kids to play them easily.
Banjos strumming up business – “Dueling Banjos,” from the movie “Deliverance,” put the centuries-old instruments in the pop culture spotlight back in the early 1970s. Now it’s happening again, thanks to chart-topping hits by bands including Mumford and Sons, with a strong emphasis on strings. Deering Banjo Company recently began selling a Rare Bird Alert Goodtime banjo, complete with peg heads decorated with bird images, in conjunction with comedian/ banjoist Steve Martin’s CD, “Rare Bird Alert,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award earlier this year.
Mobile tech gets amped up – Should those concert roadies be worried? Amplifier technology now available on mobile devices is putting all kinds of special effects into the hands of musical beginners, as well as the experienced pros. Alesis, for instance, has a multi-effects guitar processor for the iPad, called AmpDock, that lets players control tone and effect, and similar products have been released by companies such as Peavey Electronics and Pocket Labworks.
Keyboards and controllers growing smarter – Sales of digital DJ controllers were up 54 percent last year, and experts are predicting that high-tech keyboards and other sound-manipulating gear will see increasing popularity as they hook into the processing capabilities now available through iPads and iPods.
The ubiquity of mobile devices is bringing down the cost of putting professional effects into the hands of beginning DJs and other music hobbyists, with devices getting smaller all the time. Digital advances have become the selling points of recent products like iDJ Live, from Numark, a software controller for Apple devices that lets users quickly deploy their personal music libraries; and Yamaha’s P-95 Digital Piano, which closely replicates the sound of an acoustic instrument with the aid of an advanced “Wave Memory” sampling system.
And what if you still can’t decide what to get that instrumental aficionado on your gift list? The Web is filled with local businesses throughout the U.S. selling music-lesson gift certificates.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes for Jamplay.com. JamPlay is a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ online advanced guitar lessons in HD.