Thursday, September 19, 2019

Crazy days

I CAME OUT of giving a guitar lesson at 5:30 yesterday afternoon. Sheryl was helping two moms fill out violin rental paperwork at the counter. Another guy was waiting to exchange drum sticks. Another guy was buying a school band book. And another guy was playing guitar.

Welcome to mid-September at Second String Music and the culmination of school band rental season. It's going to be insane in here for the next couple of days. The most common thing we hear is "My child didn't tell me they needed this until the last minute." True, and that's why we are here.

We have help. Jean Murray is working for The Music Shoppe and will be in the store the next three days to help rent instruments. Steve Rees does his usual fine job with repairs, restrings and answering questions. I have a boatload of lessons today but I'm free most of tomorrow and Saturday to help.

Most of it falls on Sheryl because it involves paperwork and entering stuff into the computer. When I'm in the back giving lessons and she's alone on the floor, she takes it one person at a time and methodically ticks off the things needed to be done.

We are leaving the dogs at home in the afternoons because it's just too crazy. In fact, we might have to leave them home all day for the next few days, depending on how it goes. You know it's nutty around here when the dogs have to stay home.

We'll get through the next few days. We thank our loyal Second String Music customers and our school band parents for their business and patience during a hectic time. Let's have a great school year in band and orchestra!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

New keyboard, boxed up or set up

A WOMAN RECENTLY came into Second String Music and ordered a very nice Casio Privia PX 770 keyboard for her daughter. We are Casio dealers and didn't have it in stock, but we match the internet price and it comes with a free bench, so she was thrilled we could get it in for her.

It arrived yesterday. Actually, two of them arrived yesterday. Sheryl figured if we got one, we might as well get another to put on display. They are pretty amazing keyboards.

We got it out of the box and Sheryl put it together. I helped by disappearing in the back room, eventually coming out and handing her the directions and a flashlight as she lay on the ground and stared blankly at the underbelly of the keyboard. She finished just in time for a rush of school band instrument rentals (yesterday was violin day, for some reason), and it's ready to rock and roll.

The woman has two choices. She can either take home the assembled keyboard, but it will require some strength and finesse to transport. Or she can take home the keyboard still in the box, which is as long at the Mississippi River and kind of bulky, but much easier to move.

Part of us wants her to take the boxed Privia so Sheryl doesn't have to put together another one, though the second time will be easier, and I don't have to pull a hammy by handing her directions and pointing at holes where the screws go.

Either way, we are here for our loyal Second String Customers, and we'll make it as easy and painless as possible to take home your new instrument!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The wrath (and rash) of Angus

ANGUS HAS BEEN itchy lately. We are curious as to why dogs get skin rashes and how to treat them. Sheryl usually gives him a doggie benadryl and it helps, but last night he was really miserable and licking his belly.

Sheryl finally gave in and gave him a bath, and used goat's milk soap on his skin. It helped and Angus has stopped being so itchy. Angus doesn't mind getting a bath, even if it's after a tangle with decomposing squirrels or other other disgusting substances he encounters on our walks.

Right after his bath this morning, we took the dogs for their usual run. Angus dug up a mole and had a lot of fun spraying dirt all over the place and the other dogs were impressed with his mole-catching skills - Genie and Tucker are usually the ones who do the actually catching.

So Angus went from a very clean and good-smelling dog to being covered in dirt and dead mole, and he loved every second of it. Sheryl used a dish towel to wipe him off and it was entirely filthy by the time she was done.

Dogs really don't want to be clean. But they don't want to be miserable and have to scratch that nasty itch all the time, either. Angus got the best of both worlds this morning, and he is one happy doggie!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Cars, endless summers, and farewell to Ric

THE CARS ARE the Endless Summer. Their music is timeless. It always takes you back when you hear it. Always.

I defy you to listen to the first Cars album and try to guess when it was made. It was the first true New Wave album ever made. The second side (back when there were records and cassette tapes) is the most seamless blend of rock and roll magic ever created. You're All I've Got Tonight, Bye Bye Love, Moving In Stereo, All Mixed Up - slick noise rolled into a big fat bong of a tune, perfect for cranking up the cheap boom box in your room while your parents rolled their eyes.

So when I read Ric Ocasek died in New York Sunday, I gasped. Out loud. A great big, heartfelt, gut-wrenching "OH SHIT." When your inspiration and very reason for getting into music leaves this earth, it's like a punch to the stomach.

Then you hear he was 75. Man .... even endless summers tend to add up.

I loved the Cars because they had cool songs with even cooler lyrics and they really didn't care what anybody thought. I loved Ben Orr's voice, Elliott Easton's blistering guitar, and the way Rick Ocasek just stood there with the awful hair and sunglasses. Ocasek looked like a geek, a geek who knew he was getting the girls because he was a righteous and mysterious geek, a New Wave geek. He gave hope to all the other geeks, like me.

Eddie Money also passed on last week. Can't Hold Back was the soundtrack of my college years, back when my roommate would leave for the weekend and I'd get to blast his CDs in the Mount Pleasant ghetto.

It makes you take stock and it makes you realize we aren't getting younger, but our fuzzed out memories get sweeter when set to Candy O, or Heartbeat City, or Sha sha sha sha shakin'.

Endless Summers get shorter and sadder when our musical heroes go.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Emily and WIU Music

GOT A TEXT from Second String Music Hall of Famer Pete Magliocco last night. It had a link to a video. "Your daughter is a badass!" the text read. Coming from a trombone and guitar player, it's high praise indeed.

Pete has deep ties to Western Illinois University, where Emily is a professor of music and Pete's father also taught music for many years. Pete saw the above video of Emily playing her oboe and giving some tips to high school students getting ready for ILMEA auditions.

ILMEA is a huge deal and I remember when Emily had auditions when she was at Quincy High School. I also remember being in the Peoria Civic Center for a big concert her senior year and hearing Emily's oboe drifting through the big arena.

Now the student has become the teacher and it's a beautiful thing.

Every day we get parents coming into the store looking for school band instruments, and most say they just want their kids to play something. Not everybody will make a career out of a musical instrument. But you gotta start somewhere, and you never know where it might take you. In Emily's case, it's taken her to Eastman School of Music for a master's degree, Toronto for a year of studies and Europe with her Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp friends.

And she's in her fifth year teaching oboe and music at a major state university. Not bad for a Quincy girl who has yet to see her 28th birthday!

Can you tell I'm one proud papa?

Her playing is beautiful and melodic, enough to earn her the ultimate compliment from another musician - badass!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Make sure it's good, not used or new

A MAN WALKED into Second String Music Wednesday asking if we had any used guitars. This usually means the person wants a cheaper instrument and is not sure what the price range is for getting started.

We showed him the Alvarez Regent 26 acoustic, which include a gig bag, tuner, strap and picks. All of our guitars come with two free lessons, as well. What a bargain and in a new instrument.

The man said he was looking for a new hobby. He seemed surprised a brand new guitar with a reputable name was in his price range. The thing we stress time and time again is to not buy a piece of wood with strings on it - you won't be able to press down on the strings to play notes and it will make learning a lot harder. We'll see if he comes back, but he seemed pleased with what he had and I hope he makes an informed decision and gets something decent to play and learn on.

We are getting into the thick of school band instrument season. Again, you have choices and you can get something dirt cheap for your child to play. Hey, it's 75 percent less than at other stores! Just make sure that funny looking clarinet isn't pieced together from six different clarinets. You can't make it up.

The thing we keep hearing from beleaguered parents is that they don't know anything about band instruments. No problem! We do! We are here to help and make sure you get the right instrument with the right books and supplies. It's the same feeling I get when I take my car to the mechanic - I have no clue, and I trust him to figure it out and take care of us, and he always does.

It's going to be crazy in here for the next few weeks as students get hooked up with instruments. If you are looking, we advise you to come in now while we have a huge selection of Music Shoppe instruments at all the price points. We are here to help!