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     If there is a musician in your house, you will never run out of gift ideas!
    Here are a few:
     
     
    1.  A SmartMusic subscription.   
         This online tool is the most valuable practice resource I know of.   
                  
    It is available for an inexpensive yearly subscription a www.smartmusic.com.
                    With your subscription, there are free apps available for tablet computers.
                    There are metronome and tuner functions built in.
                                     
     
    2.  A metronome.  
         There are lots of different kinds, and pretty much any one will work.  
                  It is a pretty important tool for any reasonably serious musician.   
                         
    Everyone thinks they have a good sense of time.  No one
    does. 
                  They range in price from inexpensive to very expensive.
                  The Korg TM50 includes a built in tuner, and is available for about $25.  
                  The KorgTMR50 is pretty much the same, with a built in recorder.
                     The Boss Dr. Beat is an industry standard.  
                           I
    t costs about $130, and has a lot of fancy features that are probably not necessary
                           unless your musician is very serious. 
                      Free and low cost metronome applications for smart phones can be easily found.
                      Your SmartMusic subscription includes a metonome.
     
    3.  A tuner.  
         There are lots of different kinds, and pretty much any chromatic tuner will work.  
                   
    They range in price from inexpensive to very expensive.
                      It is important to get a "chromatic" tuner, which tunes all notes,
                         and not a guitar tuner, which only tunes 6.
                      Chromatic tuners can be used to tune guitars.  
                      Guitar tuners might not be useful for tuning wind instruments.
                       Free and low cost tuner applications for smart phones can be easily found.
                           Tuners and tuner apps do not actually tune the instrument. 
                           They provide a reference or a guide so your musician may better tune the instrument.
                       Your SmartMusic subscription includes a tuner.
     
     4.  A music stand.  An inexpensive one can be really helpful.  
                     
    It saves necks from looking down at music spread out on a bed or a table.
     
    5.  Jamey Aebersold or other play along music for your soloist. 
         This is a very inexepensive way to play with a "band".
                       At school, we regularly use Jamey Aebersold v.24,  v.2,  and v. 54.
                       There are lots of options for popular music, movie themes, and holiday music,
                              with more being released every day.  Check at any local music store.
                       Your Smartmusic subscription includes accompaniments for several of the Jamey
                              Aebersold collections.
                        Drummers should check out the Tommy Igoe "Groove Essentials" DVD
                              and book package, among others.
     
    6.  A new instrument.   Really.   Local music stores have several rent-to-own options. 
                      In Watertown, check with:
                         North Country Music               http://www.northcountrymusic.com/
                                                                          1035 Arsenal St.   (315) 788-9998    
                         Dr. Guitar                                 http://www.drguitarmusic.com/
                                                                          154 Court St.    (315) 782-3604   
                         Musicology                              http://www.musicologywatertown.com/
                                                                          241 State St. (315) 681-4292  
                         or
                         Northern Music and Video      http://www.northernmusicandvideo.com/
                                                                          29 Market St.    Potsdam.  (315) 265-8100   
                        Be careful with e-Bay and department store finds. 
                      There is a relationship between price and quality,
                      and for entry level or intermediate instruments,
                      that difference can tell you a lot.  
                         I have had good luck with e-Bay, the few times I have used it, but I don't buy much there. 
                        I would rather support local retailers.
     
                      **Special note for trombone players!**
    There are new plastic instruments available from many suppliers. (As much as the words "plastic instruments" strike fear in the hearts of music teachers throughout the land, these instruments are getting decent reviews from seasoned players.  I do not have first hand experience with them.)   It is important to look for the Tromba or pBone brand names.   These are the ones that are made by reputable manurfacturers, and generally stand up to criticism.   It will not be long before poorly made imitation ones are in every big box store.  Tromba and pBone instruments are available for under $200. I do not recommend metal instruments in that price range.  At this point, I encourage young musicians to check out Tromba or pBone instruments.   Keep in mind that if your musician becomes serious, they will not stand up to college standards.   And please, please keep in mind that if you do go for colors, your school color is purple, not neon green.   (Tromba also makes trumpets, but I do not know much about them yet.  They may be ok, but I would be very, very, very cautious.  At this point I'm not sure the trumpets are ok for school use.)
     
     
     
    7.   An instrument stand. 
         These are not too expensive, and they are available for every instrument.
                      
    They help prevent accidental damage.                        

    8.  For woodwind players:  Mouthpieces, reeds, and cleaning supplies.
                       Reeds and cleaning supplies are available from the local music stores listed above.
                       Reeds are sold by the box, and you can expect to spend roughly $2-3 per reed.
                       With care, a box can last a long time.
                       Polishing cloths, swabs and pad savers are an inexpensive way to help keep
                            instruments and musicians healthy.
                        Please get in touch with me about questions with mouthpieces.  
                        They can be costly, but can make a big difference to a musician's sound.
                              Individual differences are important.

    9.  For brass players: Mouthpieces, cleaning supplies, mutes.   BERP.     
                        Polishing cloths for the outside and products like "Spitballs" are an inexpensive
                              way to keep instruments and musicians healthy.   
                        Please get in touch with me about questions with mouthpieces.  
                        They can be costly, but can make a big difference to a musician's sound. 
                             Individual differences are important.
                        Mutes are like special effects for brass. 
                            There are many varieties available, and it is not unusual for brass players to  have
                                  several.   Straight mutes are sometimes called for in school band music. 
                          Harmon mutes and bucket mutes, and even plungers (yep) are sometimes called for in
                                  jazz band music.  
                           They all serve the added purpose of making an instrument quieter.
                          A BERP is a clip on device that holds the mouthpiece close to the instrument in normal
                                 playing position, but just a little bit apart from it.   
                                 It allows a brass player to work critical embouchure (lip) muscles and fingerings
                                      independently and quietly.  I highly recommend it.
                      
    8.  For drummers:  Drum sticks, drum pads
                   There is a surprising variety available.
                    My personal favorite general purpose stick is the Vic Firth 5A.  If in doubt, go with this one.
                    It is normal for drummers to have different pairs for different purposes.
                    I  discourage using plastic sticks or very large sticks in school,
                        but they might be fine for home.
                    Any pad will work.  It is not unusual for a drummer to have several different ones. 
                         They save furniture!
                     Fancy sticks and pads are a morale booster. 
                          They are not very expensive, and if they help keep your drummer interested,    
                           and maybe even practicing, I'm all for them...
                      Email, call or see me any time with questions.
     
    9:  For keyboard players:  Mallets.   ("Drumsticks" for keyboard percussionists.)
                       There is a baffling variety available.  If you thought choosing a drumstick was crazy...
                        Please contact me with questions