Hannah’s First NAMM Show

For those of you who may not be aware, I (Hannah) joined The British Band Instrument Company (BBICO) last September as the Export Sales and Operations Coordinator. If there were awards for the world’s longest job title, I like to think I’d be in the running! Having started working in the music industry at sixteen, I’d heard so much about The NAMM Show, and always hoped to have the opportunity to go. For so many, Disneyland is their dream destination, but for me it’s been the Convention Centre just next door!

As you may have read in our previous blog, BBICO exhibited at The NAMM Show for the first time this year. In this blog, I will briefly share my experience of attending the show for the first time. I will also introduce my favourite three products, aside from BBICO’s new launches, of course.

Hannah at The NAMM Show 2020

The NAMM Show

Overall, my first NAMM Show was an incredibly overwhelming experience – in the best possible way. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sheer scale of the event. The exhibition halls themselves are absolutely enormous, stretching across multiple floors, and the campus utilises numerous buildings and stages for countless musical performances, educational talks, presentations, and summits.

Particular highlights for me were:

  • watching Tower of Power on the Main Stage
  • listening to Jenn Herman’s talks on creating effective social media content
  • attending Marcus Sheridan’s summit on strategies, innovations and trends to transform retail businesses and amplify success

Favourite Products from The NAMM Show

I also had a fantastic time exploring new products by other companies, which brings me on nicely to my three favourite products from the 2020 NAMM Show.

Warwick Music: hyTech pTrumpet

Despite actually being launched at the 2019 NAMM Show, Warwick Music’s hyTech pTrumpet was a new product to me. The thing that struck me most about the instrument was it’s unbelievable lightness – it’s hybrid design makes it less than half the weight of traditional brass trumpets. This is ideal for young players, as it aids their ability to develop good technique and posture. This means their arms won’t get tired as quickly, so can enjoy playing for longer! In addition, the hyTech is a high-quality trumpet that is considerably cheaper than most intermediate brass instruments. Made from durable recyclable ABS plastic, the hyTech is available in three colours, including silver and gold to resemble traditional instruments. The instrument includes stainless steel lined pistons with ABS core, polymer-bonded and CNC-cut yellow brass valve block and solid brass mouthpiece receiver with a standard 7C silver plated brass mouthpiece.

I also had a very interesting conversation with Steven Greenall regarding the environmental impact of the manufacture of pInstruments. In fact, Warwick Music recently had a study conducted to ascertain the difference in environmental impact between manufacturing plastic and brass instruments. Their card from this years NAMM Show (see image below), highlights some very interesting findings. Despite our aim with Edgware to reduce plastic packaging within the musical instrument accessories industry, it is important to acknowledge that plastic isn’t ALWAYS the enemy. I found Warwick’s research incredibly interesting and thought-provoking.

D’Addario: VENN

As a clarinet player, I couldn’t help but include the launch of D’Addario Woodwind’s ‘new species of reeds’; VENN. VENN combines the stability and longevity of a synthetic reed with the sound and feel of natural cane. To do this, D’Addario have reverse-engineered the cane by layering different strengths of polymer fibres with resin and organic reed elements, in order to mimic natural cane’s organic structure. According to D’Addario; “VENN outlasts and outperforms anything else like it – all while sounding and playing like your favorite cane reed”.

As with other synthetic reeds, VENN has been designed to:

  • last longer than a cane reed
  • be consistent from reed to reed
  • be less subject to splitting, chipping, and breaking from use

Synthetic reeds require no prep, care, and maintenance and are resistant to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Despite all of these positives, I have personally never quite got to grips with synthetic reeds. I am intrigued to try D’Addario’s new offering which supposedly “takes the compromise out of playing a synthetic reed” by duplicating the properties and playing characteristics of natural cane.

VENN will be available initially for Bb Clarinet, Alto and Tenor Saxophone in April of this year.

D'Addario at The NAMM Show 2020
D’Addario’s Booth at The NAMM Show 2020 (photograph by D’Addario)

The British Drum Company: KEO Percussion

The final product I would like to feature is a range of percussion instruments and accessories, handcrafted in Britain by The British Drum Company (BDC); KEO Percussion. I was introduced to KEO by Keith Keough and Al Murray at the BDC booth, which looked remarkably similar to ours!

KEO was originally developed as a sustainable way of utilising off-cuts generated during the drum manufacturing process. It has since evolved into a comprehensive range of instruments and accessories for drummers and percussionists. KEO combines the sustainable practice of using off-cuts with Keith’s deep knowledge of wood’s acoustic properties. Not only do these percussion instruments sound amazing, but they also visually reflect their maker’s heritage and expertise. I was impressed by this innovative use of waste materials, and think that this ambitious and forward-thinking approach is something we need more of within the industry, with regards to the current climate crisis.

The BDC describe their KEO Percussion instruments as; “a beautiful hybrid of craft and function. The sensual, tactile qualities of the wood compel you to pick up the instruments and inspire your playing”. Despite not being a percussionist myself, I can confirm that I love the concept behind these instruments, and can’t wait to see what the BDC come up with next!

Meeting Others at The NAMM Show

Attending The NAMM Show was a wonderful opportunity to meet other industry professionals. From manufacturers, distributors retailers and repairers, to artists, educators, and so many more. The one thing that everyone had in common was a true passion for music, and The NAMM show facilitates not only the opportunity to build relationships, but also the chance to learn from one another, and strengthen the industry as a whole.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Booth 9231, introducing people to BBICO’s new brands Edgware and Academy. It was a particular pleasure to introduce Four Play Clarinet to our range of accessories for the environmentally-conscious musician. I also had the opportunity to practice my Spanish with Jaime Ismael Barrios Diaz and his colleagues from Jaba Musical Instruments, which definitely challenged my limited vocabulary surrounding brass cleaning products!

I’d like to thank everyone I met at the NAMM Show for being so welcoming. I had a wonderful time, and very much hope to be able to attend again in the future.

Hannah Williams

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