February 21, 2017 The National Association of Music Merchants had their annual show again this year in (not so sunny) Anaheim California from January 19th-22nd. NAMM used to be merely a trade show for wares in the music business. It has now morphed into so much more: I was speaking with music school owners whose sole reason for going to NAMM is the educational component (called NAMM U for University) where teachers and schools discuss ideas and share what works. There are clinicians giving demonstrations in every field from banjo to music writing. The NAMM oral history project also has been going now for years where interviews are done with iconic people in music arts and industry. The main stage has music going continuously as well as events in various hotels in the surrounding area. Those are just the official NAMM events but there’s so much more that happens from business meetings, networking to a major Christian worship night. Regardless of your involvement in music, there is truly something for everyone to gain at NAMM. This year’s attendance eclipsed 100,000 attendees! Breaking the silence of 30 years, Steinway made a presentation with Spirio, their automated digital player system. I sat and watched legendary pianists on a display and simultaneously those same notes were being played on the Steinway grand in front of you. Digital systems were a bit of a theme this year. Yamaha presented Music Cast, a way to broadcast their Disklavier sound to anywhere throughout your house. QRS (Story & Clark pianos) – one of the oldest innovators of player pianos has moved to Bluetooth and introduced control of the piano through smartwatch. PianoDisc (Mason & Hamlin, WNG) also introduced a redefined ease-of-use app for their player systems. When you start to see video of your favourite performer and then see the keys move in sync with the performance, it’s quite fascinating to watch. Fanny & Alban Steingraeber Christian Bluthner Also in attendance were Bechstein and Steingraeber – both companies are from Germany and haven’t been to NAMM for several years. It was great to not only see these pianos but to sit down and play, listen and feel their latest iterations of manufacturing. I really enjoy meeting the families behind the pianos. Seventh generation Alban & Fanny Steingraeber were at their booth. Christian Bluthner was present at the show as was Paolo and Lucas Fazioli, Hannes Schimmel Vogel and Zuzana Petrof. While there are many musical celebrities that show up at NAMM, I just happened to see Herbie Hancock, legendary jazz musician. Paolo Fazioli Hannes Schimmel Vogel Zuzana Petrof Always of interest are pianos that take the stage for eye candy. This year were 3 pianos: Although not a new concept, the grand piano from Kawai (seen in the video) looked visually remarkable. Seiler did a vintage car (seen below) in fire engine red. My favourite was the Gustav Klimt “Woman of Gold” painting on the Bosendorfer. It’s a 1906 painting that has been transferred and highlighted in 24K gold leaf on the under side of the grand lid. The music rack and legs also had art case highlights. You can read more about the Klimt painting on Wikipedia and read more about the reproduction on the Bosendorfer here. Below you can spin the view by either grabbing the picture with your mouse or using the arrows to walk around the grand. In other news, Grotrian has introduced a new line called the Freidrich Grotrian – a joint manufacturing effort between China and Germany. Hailun Piano company debuted their 2.0 version of their hydraulic grand lid system where you need no prop lid stick at all to hold up the lid. On some of the larger grands, trust me the weight can be substantial. But their proprietary system allows you to lift the lid with one finger and simply place the lid at any position and it will stay there. Pearl River, who manufacture the largest amount of pianos annually (~130,000) continues construction on their new facilities. Speaking with Stephan Mohler, state-of-the-art computer systems are being equipped in the new transformation. Renner with Lloyd Meyer as well as the Piano Technician’s Guild (PTG) also had booths. Brands at the Show (alphabetical) Baldwin, Bechstein, Bösendorfer, Blüthner, Brodmann, Fazioli, Fridolan Schimmel, Geyer, Hailun, Hoffmann, Haessler, Hallet Davis, Hardman, Irmler, Kawai, Kingsburg, Knabe, Mason & Hamlin, Pearl River, Perzina, Petrof, Pramberger, Ravenscroft, Ritmuller, Sauter, Schimmel, Seiler, Shigeru Kawai, Steinway, Weber, Wilhelm Schimmel, Wilhelm Steinberg,Yamaha, Young Chang Piano Price Point is starting a “Piano Walk-Around Channel” on YouTube where you can take a 10 second walk around grand and upright pianos. This was initiated at NAMM 2017 and will be available soon and searchable by make and model.