By Felix Mayerhofer
Attending the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show can only be described as madness! Everyone stepping into the Anaheim Convention Center has one thought, to see the newest and latest instruments on display. If it’s your first time it’s a happening. If you’ve been to one or more you’ll continue on a yearly basis. The excitement is contagious and more so for the salespeople who nervously depend on this conference to get some of their largest orders of the year.
The large displays for the major companies look like scenes from an old Hollywood musical. There’s Fred Astaire tap dancing on the heads of a 13 piece drum set while100 gyrating guitar players are blowing the amps. That’s the energy that emanates throughout the halls, from the stratospheric wailing of trumpets, to sax players blowing wild Charlie Parker runs at break-neck tempos. I sort of dented that enthusiasm with my trombone playing, trying out about 15 or 20.
The question is, “Are the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese making better stringed instruments or horns that are as good as the Americans, and in some cases surpassing them? The answer is yes, and has been for some time. The competition is fierce as the Pacific nations have lower labor costs, making it more difficult for American companies to compete. That’s why many major American musical instrument companies now have plants in most of those nations. But at the same time you can’t beat American ingenuity and initiative, as there were more than a few entrepreneurs hawking their wares that I hadn’t seen in previous years.
If you’re a musician, music teacher, or a music storeowner who hasn’t attended a NAMM show, make a point of getting a ticket from someone in the business so you too can be inspired. Besides being an inspiration it’s also an education. After one impressionable show you’ll be going every year and be a part of the madness like the rest of us.
About Felix Mayerhofer – Felix has been a professional musician and music teacher for longer than many of us have been on this planet. He loves music and his students and they love him. Teaching at Palmdale High School in Palmdale, California, he has seen many of his students go on to promising careers in the music industry with his help and guidance. Technically retired, but not really much, he continues playing music and has begun a new career as a writer of children’s books. Thirty-eight of his children’s books have been recorded
With his business partner, Saxophonist Mario Grossi, he keeps busy providing new and used band and stringed instruments to children who will be beginning in their school music programs. But even the teacher has to learn. “I’m also dedicated to learning and practicing the chromatic harmonica daily, and after 50 years I’m beginning to play the trombone again.” But according to Felix his real goal is, “To stay well mentally I have to have a mix of pleasure and work.”