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NAMM Overview

For all musicians and music enthusiasts, the NAMM Show is a much anticipated event. I
remember talking about NAMM with my fellow musicians and bandmates when I was in elementary
school. It was a dream of mine to go one day. Think about a kid walking into the biggest candy store in
the world.

When I was younger, the largest music retailer in Bakersfield was Stockdale Music. My parents
used to take me there on Saturdays, and I would think about my next visit all week! I had the privilege of
working at Stockdale Music from 2002 to 2009, and because of my role there, I had my first opportunity
to attend the NAMM show in 2003.

I clearly remember the day I was headed to NAMM in Anaheim, CA. The drive seemed like it was
ten hours even though it was only three. I was anxious to see what new toys manufacturers had come
out with, I wanted to see what new innovations the big name brands were introducing, and I wanted to
try out every instrument and new piece of gear out there.

The past 16 months have looked very different than what we are used to, and Winter NAMM
2021 was different as well. There are many things I missed from a “normal” NAMM Show. I missed being
able to test out instruments and new gear. I missed the shows and concerts and being able to meet my
favorite artists. However, there are things that I feel were better this year. I really enjoyed the education
and training I received. I loved that I was able to continue looking through the training and product
videos well after NAMM was over. There were also training videos that were focused on running the
business side of things and not just gear. Topics included “How to run a successful lesson program”,
“How to build a social media presence”, and each training was very valuable to me.

Let’s get to one of the most fun and important things about the NAMM Show: NEW products!!
This is something I think every musician is looking forward to every year. Though it was virtual, this year
was no exception. There were plenty of exciting new products this year and here are a couple that I feel
are noteworthy.

First up is Yamaha’s Harmony Director Education Tool. This is a powerful tool for music
educators to more effectively teach intonation and rhythmic training to their musical ensemble. The
Harmony Director lets you demonstrate to your students how their individual notes fit into complete
chords. It allows you to teach the through examples rather than words alone, which creates the kind of
harmonic understanding that takes many years of experience to develop. The Harmony Director can
help your ensemble move from good to outstanding. The new Harmony Director HD-300 has some
added features. The addition of a mobile app that can act as a stand-alone tuner as well as a hardware
controller makes the new HD-300 a complete package that can not only make a teacher’s job easier but
also help their students play in tune, in tone, in time, and at the correct volume. It also has built-in audio
recording system with a quality microphone that allows educators to make high quality recordings
without having to setup separate recording gear. Here’s a “quick start” video, and a “more than a warmup” video that really demonstrate what a powerful teaching tool the Harmony Director really is.

Second, we have the Yamaha YDS-150 digital saxophone. This was one of my favorite products
launched this year. Let’s start with a little history on this specific product type. The original product was
called a wind controller and it dates back to the 1930s. However, it didn’t become popular until the
1970’s when the widely played Lyricon from Computone was introduced. A number of features that
have been preserved until this day include the ability to correctly interpret the expressive use of reed 
articulation, breath-controlled dynamics, and embouchure-controlled pitch variation. Notable early
recording artists on the Lyricon include Roland Kirk and Tom Scott (click on their names to find out more
about them). While the Yamaha YDS-150 has all of the great features of the Lyricon, here’s the one that
sets it apart from others. The integrated Bell Acoustic System provides physical feedback to help
stimulate your senses. Blowing into the mouthpiece resonates throughout the entire instrument—a
sensation you can feel in your lips, fingertips, and even your heart. The Integrated Bell Acoustic System,
created by the fusion of acoustic and digital technologies, delivers an incredibly authentic, gorgeous
sound that feels and responds as if you were playing an acoustic instrument. Yamaha has done a
wonderful job making this instrument feel as natural as possible. Click here to listen to a fun comparison
between an acoustic saxophone and the YDS-150.

Though NAMM can be very packed, I think it is well worth it. So, make plans and show up.
Summer NAMM is July 15-17 and it’s approaching fast. If you are interested in attending, there is more
information here. I promise it’ll be a lot of fun. If you have any questions about any products mentioned,
please email us at [email protected] or call us at 1-800-649-5354.

Tony Fuentes

Store Manager - Bakersfield Location