We found the keys!

Yep, it’s been a while. We lost the keys to the blog! But now we are back. We’ve had a strong coffee and the last of the turkey and are ready to tell you some of our plans for 2014.

one direction mug

We are planning to do more trade-ins and pre-loved instruments, starting with guitars. So if you have any nice old guitars gathering dust that you would be interested in turning into cash or a new instrument then do get in touch. We took in this pretty Epiphone before Christmas, it’s had a full set up and is looking for a new home.

photo-44

 We have big plans for the shop too, focusing on the last part of our Learn Play Create mantra. We will soon be stocking a comprehensive new range of home-recording technology products. With in-shop demos and workshops we will be able to provide everything you need to turn that tune that’s been stuck in your head for years into a professionally produced song!

It’s good to be back. Our new year’s resolution is to blog more (but not too much, eh). And the keys to the blog?? Well… we found them in the end.

*shakes sand out of flip-flops*

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This is NOT a Christmas Blog

So. We’ve finally finished the trick or treat haul of Tangfastics, and have polished off the last of the bonfire-roasted hedgehog (parboiling, then a loose foil-wrap worked well for us). It appears to be nearly Christmas. But fear not (said she, for mighty dread…oh dear, sorry), here at Westmount Music we most certainly have not put up the decorations yet. We have, however, conceded to listen to last week’s two Christmas album releases, Justin Bieber’s “Under The Mistletoe” and She and Him’s “A Very She and Him Christmas”. Just as the escalator papers reported last week, the former lasted about 10 seconds. The latter was very much better, and will be saved for December, interspersed with John Cale’s “Paris 1919” and Slade, obviously.

Well then.

We’ve got a new Christmas advert. It looks like this. It has already prompted a veritable avalanche of enquiries about accordions, fur hats and ugg boots. We also fielded a call from a pop icon in Lechlade about the possibility of adopting an Eastern European boy.

Five hours ago (cutting edge? us? of course!) John Lewis released their new Christmas TV advert. It features a little boy who looks quite a lot like this one. Except theirs is RUBBISH at wrapping up presents. Coming soon to a telly box near you.

We have got some excellent deals on Casio keyboards and electronic pianos at the moment, and will be running these until Christmas. Our offers include the unutterably cute SA-46 which looks like this (click on the little chap for more info):

It is possible that simply having a keyboard or piano in the house could lead to a moment of inspiration such as this experienced by Bill Bailey’s character in Black Books*. Here is Manny, having some musical fun.

Anyone who follows us on facebook will have seen our latest staff photo. We were struck by our collective resemblance to the employees of Black Books, the Channel 4 book shop. You can find us on facebook here, or on twitter here.

Do contact us if we can help with any Christmas shopping. We’d love to make your Christmas a musical one.

*SMALL PRINT: Buying an electronic piano does  not necessarily lead to immediate musical success for those with no previous experience. We would thoroughly recommend the services of a professional piano and keyboard tutor, such as our very own and most excellent Mr Mike Wesson.

This blog was brought to you by Jona Lewie 

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Back to School! (we can help)

It seems like only the blink of an eye ago that the little poppets came bounding out of school, dropped their filthy PE kits on the floor, grew dreadlocks and forgot how to read. But it’s nearly the start of the new academic year, the preparation for which inevitably means a whole heap of work and expense for parents.

But Westmount Music can help! I’m afraid we are unable to sew name-labels into blazers or scrub the temporary tattoos from your children’s arms. But contact us with your musical requirements and we will do our utmost to fulfill them, efficiently and cost-effectively too.

We obviously have a wide range of excellent starter instruments for sale, but if you don’t want to invest at the beginning of your child’s musical journey, our instrument rental scheme has already proven very popular. It is possible to rent brass, woodwind, stringed instruments including violins and guitars, drum kits and keyboards through us. All instruments are very high quality, and offered with the reassurance that they have been checked and serviced by professional technicians. Instrument rentals start from just £6.99 per month. More information about our rental programme can be found here.

If your child is about to start working towards a new exam on their chosen instrument, they may need the book of exam set pieces. We have a large selection of these on our shelves in the shop, and can order most others in. Please check our back to school page for a snapshot of what we have, and contact us with any requests.

Starting a new term isn’t all about focusing on academic goals, there’s lots of fun to be had too. We are introducing group lessons for youngsters who would like to learn to play the happiest of instruments, the ukulele. The cost of the term of 8 weekly lessons is £99 and includes a ukulele to learn on and keep at the end of the course. Please contact Katy or Paul for more information. It’ll be fun!

We have pulled together a heap of Back to School offers, information and products on our website here. Do contact us if we can be of any help in your new term’s preparations. We can’t guarantee to make the start of the new term as much fun as they are having in the clip above, but we’ll help in any way we can.

This blog post was brought to you by Mrs McCluskey .

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The Ukulele is Small, The Guitar is Far Away

This week we have two work experience students at Westmount Music, Liam and Beth. They are proving very useful, and are hopefully enjoying spending time with us, and learning a bit along the way.

In this photo Liam is modelling the outcome of an involved discussion of size vs distance. Our view of perspective is based around the holiday adventures of Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal McGuire, and is known in the shop as “The Craggy Island Protocol”. In Liam’s right hand he has one of our lovely mahogany ukuleles. In his left he has a beautiful solid-topped Taylor travel guitar. The ukulele is small. The guitar is far away.

We love ukuleles! They make such a happy noise. They even look happy. They are relatively cheap, and fit handily into a rucksack.

And they are certainly riding high in the zeitgeist at the moment. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder (not normally renowned for happiness) has released an album devoted to the uke.

Amanda Palmer has released an album of songs by the perennially cheerful Radiohead performed on her ukulele. You can have a listen here.

The ukulele is growing in popularity as an instrument taught in schools. Much as we love the recorder, we see this as a Very Good Thing. We are making plans for a ukulele course for primary school age children, run here from our shop starting in September. We will keep you posted.

Once you have your uke, you’ll need some chords and song tabs to get you started. We have plenty of beginner books, get in touch if you would like to have a chat about it. Or you can find a whole world of stuff on the web.  Our favourite site is www.ukulelehunt.com. An excellent resource for ukulele chords and heaps of tabs, and links to some brilliantly entertaining ukulele videos. We also like www.alligatorboogaloo.com. There you can find chord diagrams, and an eclectic collection of user-uploaded song tabs. From Burt Bacharach to Belle and Sebastian. To help you tune your uke we recommend this online ukulele tuner.

And of course, here at Westmount Music we are always ready and willing to help in any way we can. Even if you just fancy a chat.

So, as Mrs Doyle would say, “What would you say to a ukulele father? Ah, go on, go on, go on…..”

This blog was brought to you by Katy

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A Local Shop, for Local People

Here at Westmount Music we simply love being part of the Global Village. Why! only last week we shipped a music stand to a customer in Brazil. And we are forever lovingly despatching jiffy bags full of high-quality musicalia to destinations across Europe. But when it comes to it, home is where the heart is, and for us, Marlow is home.

Westmount Music has operated as an internet business since 2006. Since opening our shop in Marlow Bottom in Autumn 2010, we have enjoyed making lots of new friends, and building relationships with local schools and businesses. A key part of our plan for the shop has been to combine meeting people with having fun. And where possible, visiting beer tents. This strategy has led to us attending several school fetes, and the Marlow Bottom Rose Carnival, which was a lovely way to spend last Saturday. These events have given us the chance to talk happily to people about music and instruments, and introduce lots of members to our Music Club. The Westmount Music Club is essentially a loyalty scheme. We have recruited several local schools to the club, and members who are parents of pupils at these schools are able to earn points as they spend, for both their own account, and for their nominated school. We are hoping that this will enable the schools to build up enough points to purchase instruments or music books that they would not otherwise have.

Still on the subject of teaching, our teaching room (see blog entry below) has led to us forging links with local music tutors. We currently have six tutors using the room for lessons, and we endeavour to keep them happy with the new coffee machine. We are very keen to meet local music tutors, and those who join our Music Club are entitled to double-points when they purchase products from us. So if you are teaching music in the Marlow area, please pop in and say hello!

We have recently added a local news page to our website. Please click here to find information about upcoming events, local bands and artists, music tutors and studio facilities, and email us if you have an event you would like added to our listings. Other invaluable sources of info about impending gigs, jam nights and open mic nights are rupesgigguide (host of the legendary Nag’s Head Blues Jam nights) and lemonrock.

We are very proud to be sponsors of MarlowFm, The UK’s newest community radio station, which launched on the 11th May. Our very own Paul Coombes is soon to be hosting a programme showcasing  “Magical Mystery Guitar Tour”. A collection of Beatles hits arranged for classical guitar by the world-renowned Carlos Bonell, in collaboration with local tutor David Young.

As a recent visitor to our shop observed, here in Marlow Bottom we have everything. I buy my lunch from Bernie next door, get my hair cut by Lindsey at Scoobies dog groomers, stock up on chemical enhancement at Marlow Bottom Pharmacy, and buy my tea at the chippy. Washed down with a pint of Rebellion beer, brewed at the end of the road. Keeping it real.

This blog entry was brought to you by Katy (Tubbs) 

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Lefty-Loosey, Righty-Tighty

Sometimes, working at Westmount Music is a little like being Rolf Harris in a particularly harrowing episode of Animal Hospital. People park their cars looking shaken and tentative, then reach into their boot and carefully lift a bundle into their arms. It is rushed into the shop, and handed over with a brief explanation, often delivered in the embarrassed tone of someone about to reveal a mortifying ailment. We unwrap the bundle, and do our best not to look shocked when our eyes fall upon the injured instrument within. Sometimes they are just worn out, other times they have been loved and played to exhaustion. Once in a while our eyes fall upon a victim of musical mistreatment so severe that we are rendered speechless. But we are not here to judge. Our arms are open to all broken, worn-out, mistreated and accident-prone musical instruments.

In store, and sometimes even while you wait, we are able to re-string guitars and undertake standard guitar servicing and set-ups. We will hold your guitar up to our laser-sharp eyes, and use an allen-key to make any necessary adjustments to the truss rod, to ensure a straight neck and perfect action. Hence the Westmount Repair Mantra, “Lefty-Loosey, Righty-Tighty”. For more complicated guitar repairs and reconditioning we are really pleased to be able to offer the services of legendary guitar technician, Stuart Monks.

Guitar Repairs and Servicing

Stu’s track record in guitar repairs is second to none. He first began repairing guitars professionally in 1973. Stuart’s work gained him a reputation for excellence and an increasing number of bands he toured with as a guitar technician include Paul Weller and John Entwistle (The Who). Stuart branched into luthiery building guitars for Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd),  Jeff BeckEric Clapton, amongst others in Roger Giffin’s Workshop. More recently, Stu has worked as the guitar specialist for singer/ songwriter Adele and her band, and is currently working with many West End musicals, including the hit show We Will Rock You.

Stu’ regularly visits our shop in Marlow Bottom and performs most set-ups in house. All of the guitars we sell are professionally set up and include a 1 year set-up warranty so we will carry out any necessary adjustments free of charge during this period.

 

Stu, pictured above with his beloved Giffin

For the guitar set-up, repair and servicing tariff please click here.

If you have a string, brass or woodwind instrument in need of a service or repair, we are proud to work with three highly-skilled technicians. Please allow me to introduce them.

Graham de Vere White has over thirty years experience of the restoration, servicing and repair of all woodwind and brass instruments including flutes, clarinets, bassoons, oboes and saxaphones. More information about Graham can be found here.

Alan Ward is a local craftsman of high-end violins and cellos, who established his workshop over 20 years ago after studying at the famous Newark School of violin making.  All of our violins and Cellos are checked by Alan, and adjusted and set up accordingly to ensure they are optimised for our customers. He carries out all of our repairs and servicing – from basic restrings and adjustments to major restoration repairs.

Dennis Hynes is an expert in the repair of brass instruments. He trained in horn making and brass repair at Paxmans, and lectured in brass repair at Merton College.

So please, screech to a halt. Abandon your car at a jaunty angle in the car park, and rush your injured instruments through our welcoming doors. We might even make you a cup of nuclear coffee from our new machine while we make the diagnosis and plan the treatment. If you have any questions about our instrument repair service, please do get in touch.

This blog was brought to you in association with Kenco.

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Another Brick in the Wall

The Westmount Music Teaching Room is Now Open!

As Radiohead’s Thom Yorke said, Anyone Can Play Guitar. He possibly wasn’t talking about our brand new teaching room when he wrote those words, but he was right. He should also have mentioned pianos, keyboards, drums and banjos, but he is forgiven (making that scan would have been a challenge). We have tutors for all those instruments currently working from our teaching room, and the booking diary is filling up.

Making the decision to learn to play a musical instrument is exciting! Inspired by their favourite artists, the beginner is all too aware of the potential of the collection of wood and string (or metal and drum-skin) at their fingertips. They know how it could sound and yet… at first it probably doesn’t.  But a good teacher unlocks that potential, and shows the student glimpses of that ambition fulfilled, right from the outset. All the musicians teaching at Westmount Music are experienced, reputable local music tutors. If you would like to discuss the possibility of learning an instrument with us, get in touch.

Sometimes people are happier to learn independently, using an online lesson. We offer online guitar, bass, keyboard and drum lessons through gigajam. More information on this is available here.

So if you want to be a Piano Man, or if you’ve just got your First Real Six String (although we can’t recommend you play it ’til your fingers bleed) get in touch. We can put you in contact with our tutors, or talk to you about our online learning service. We can also advise you on books, CDs or DVDs if you would like to use those while you learn at home. However you would like to learn, here at Westmount Music we are armed and ready to help you start your musical journey.

Katy, Westmount Music

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