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music gifts

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Music Gifts: Yo Johann, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish

We interrupt your usual Thursday viola joke/Friday LOL/Monday video schedule for a few additional music gifts so that you can order anything you like in time for the holidays. I’ll make it up to you next week, I promise.

Boys, I hope you aren’t feeling left out — I know an alarming number of music gifts I’ve featured thus far have been girl-oriented, provided of course that you aren’t a cross-dresser, in which case you probably feel fine. But just in case, here’s something you can put on YOUR wishlist or wrap up for your best Y-chromosomed friend. Because dudes, this is the best shirt of all time. OF ALL TIME!!!

Awww, I kid. Everyone knows I have a soft spot for Kanye ever since a two-dimensional parody of him insulted Mozart in favor of Beethoven (that’s right; my affection is illogically transferable). Plus they call it the “Bach to the Future” t-shirt and everyone knows how I feel about a good pun (everyone knows a lot about me). Bonus: this sucker is only $6. Or $50 if you order ten — buy one for your whole orchestra!

Or I don’t know, maybe $6 is a little out of your price range. How about $4.95 for a full twenty Yuri the Angry Viola stickers? That’s twenty presents right there! Shopping list = done.


Music Gifts: Why play brass when you can wear it?

Hey, remember how in The Trumpet of the Swan there’s the swan Louis who can’t make any noise, so his dad steals him a trumpet so that he can communicate? Well, here’s a dress covered in brass instruments, so that your favorite dress-wearer can properly communicate the fact that she likes a handful of brass and she’s not afraid to get down to brass tacks and she’s certainly not afraid of bad puns.

Okay, those two are only tangentially related. Mostly I wanted to know if you remember The Trumpet of the Swan. WAY better than Stuart Little. If you don’t like the dress, buy a copy instead.

But why wouldn’t you like a dress covered in brass instruments? It’s freakin’ adorable. It’s also just under $400 at Modcloth, but you know, whatevs.

Looking for something a little cheaper but just as punny? Why not consider this delightful Rimsky-Korsakow mug, one of a multitude of delightful music items in the AB store? Strike your music teacher off your shopping list today!

Music Gifts: Leg-o-less the Piano

Look, I know how it is. You’ve got that friend — the one who is just too obsessed with Beethoven. Didn’t think it was possible, but he found a way. He goes around wearing an ascot, waving around a pen and getting ink everywhere, demanding that you speak to him through an ear trumpet and pretending not to hear you when you do. All that writing in his book is starting to make your hand cramp and you do not want to encourage this behavior.

And yet.

And yet. What if your Beethovenophile could emulate Beethoven’s musical genius as well as his eccentricities? Wouldn’t that be great? Think for a minute. What’s standing in his way?

You are correct. What he needs is a legless grand piano. Korg tabletop grand piano to the rescue!

It can play like a grand piano or synthesize other instruments; it can memorize short phrases; operates on electricity or battery power; you can plug in a damper pedal or even headphone if your buddy will quit malingering. Yes, truly this is all he needs to become the spiritual successor of Beethoven. Certainly better than that Brahms fellow. What a giftless bastard!

I found it at Urban Outfitters for $320. Or, if that sort of behavior lands one on your holiday naughty list and warrants only something cheap, why not go for a “You can’t see me ’cause I’m Haydn” t-shirt from the AB store? Maybe a little Haydn away will break him of the Ludwig thing.

Music Gifts: For the ladies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for that perennial favorite, my music gift list. Every week until Christmas (or whatever) I shall offer a different gift intended for the musical in your life. Or you can drop hints that you want it yourself (to whomever has you on your list, I mean, not me; I love you, Ain’t Baroccos, but I can’t afford to buy you all presents this year so you’ll have to share this lump of rosin).

Anyway, this year’s inaugural musical holiday gift is for those wacky and whimsical creatures known as girls. We’re weird, aren’t we? Generally inscrutable? Insist on insinuating things instead of just coming right out and saying them? Well, that’s because we’re smarter than you are and we’d get bored otherwise. But in a fit of benevolence I’ll come right out and say it: here, buy said girl this.

Look, I’m not making this too easy for you. The above purse is not every girl’s style. It’s a very look-at-me accoutrement, best suited for the lass who wants all the solos and a spotlight while she plays them. But I know for a fact that if the right gal rocked this at rehearsal and then took it to the symphony she would get somewhere between eighteen and twenty thousand compliments on it. Truth.

I found it at Modcloth for $55. Or, if you’d like something a little cheaper, consider getting her a “He Was Told There Would Be Cake” magnet from the Ain’t Baroque store instead. It’s $3, and nothing says the holidays like Beethoven wearing a festive hat.

“Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone”

I am sad.

I am sad because I have this habit of finding great stuff for a topic mentioned on the blog AFTER I’ve mentioned it on the blog. The other day I found a fantastic music gift, and it’s January. I simply do not have the patience to wait till next November to share it with you. So consider this a Valentine’s Day present suggestion, assuming that what you’re trying to communicate is “we share a wonky sense of humor” (good!) or possibly “I am extremely unromantic” (also good if you’re spurning, I guess).

You might be familiar with the below, as I understand it has made the viral email rounds and shown up on a variety of musical message boards and the like. It is by the unparalleled humorist and soothing-voiced radio host, Garrison Keillor.


1 And it came to pass, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain disciples came upon amob that was stoning an organist. 2 And Paul said unto them, “What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?” 3 And the people cried with one voice, “He hath played too loud. 4 Yea, in the singing of psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers. 5 Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and tho’ there be few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops, the Assyrian trumpet stop and the stop of the ram’s horn and the stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths. 6 He always tosseth in the variations that confuse us mightily and playeth loud and discordant and always in a militant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing. 7 Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chastised. 8 Paul, hearing this, had himself picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down and bade the organist come forward. 9 He was a narrow man, pale of complexion, dry, flaking thin of hair. 10 And Paul said unto him, “Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?” 11 And the organist replied, “I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and therefore played the louder so as to encourage them.” 12 And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, “Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone.” 13 And they cast stones for awhile until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organist repent and he did. 14 And Paul said unto him, “Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit.” 15 And afterward, they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unaccompanied and then had coffee and were refreshed in the faith.

Funny, right? I know I giggle every time. But it gets better — you can now put it on your wall!

Great for organists, skeptical pianists, and my dad, in case you need a present for him, too. Your purchase supports NPR, or as one of my arts management professors used to call it, “Communist talk radio.”

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average. Holla!

Quick, read!

All right, Captain Last Minute of the Procrastinator’s Brigade, you need a music gift you can pick up in a hurry? Most bookstores are open till six pm today. I can think of no type of store more likely to have stuff actually in stock, y’know?

Lucky for you, I did an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter earlier this week and collected a small list of good music-related books. Seek these out, and good luck to you!

  • Christine Petrolati says: “Music & Silence by Rose Tremain. I like the way it gets you to see how powerful and passionate music can be. I love how it shows you music can live on… That even in the silence, you still hear the music…”
  • StaffNotes says: “Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within by Kenny Werner. I tend to enjoy reading about the more heady aspects of music and performance.”
  • I say: “Evenings With Horowitz: A Personal Portrait by David Dubal. More than a simple biography of the famed pianist, it offers insights into the bizarre and fragile world of musicians. Because let’s face it, 99% of them are stark raving mad.”

Okay, kids, I’m out till December 26th, when I will post to enable you all to wish me a happy birthday. Then the rest of the week I’ll be doing something of a “greatest hits” retrospective, with links to previous posts that you or I seem to be particularly fond of, again on Facebook and Twitter, so you’d better follow/like me now so you don’t miss out.

Right then. Merry Christmas, everybody, if you celebrate it, and if you don’t, happy time off for no reason!

Le jazz warm and cozy

Because nothing holds my soul together like being toasty when the world isn’t. Your second to last music gift recommendation (better choose one day shipping) is both snuggly AND rhythmic:

That’s right! It’s a beanie with headphones built right in. You could walk to the Metro to Mussourgsky — ski to Stravinsky — hike to… to… all right, to Handel (I was trying to think of a Russian ‘H’ but nothing comes immediately to mind). Even when the temperatures are down in the teens, you won’t suffer from what I like to call throbby ear.

It hooks up to pretty much any MP3 player or cell phone, and it comes in black or yellow, too. It’s currently on sale at Urban Outfitters for fifty bucks; UO has store locations, too, if you find yourself cutting it really close. Good luck with parking!

A note that really sings

For the music person on your gift list whose inner workings are truly beyond your comprehension, here’s a present that is truly… odd? Something. Here it is:

Well, it’s a synthesizer shaped like a music note, and it’s called an Otamatone. You select a note with the stem (perfect pitch is an asset here), and then for vibrato or the equivalent of a whammy pedal you squeeze the cheeks. That’s what the face is for, you see, so that the instructions can use the phrase “squeeze the cheeks.” This is a good present for a significant other therefore. I mean, what?

To give the gift of cheeky music, you can hit up Amazon with about $52 bucks in hand. Then your recipient can make this noise:

Music, cubed

Given how little time there is left, I’m making some rearrangements of the usual schedule — we’re doing holiday gifts for music people today, Monday, and Tuesday. Heck, I might even double up if there’s a demand. Then the remaining days till Christmas we can video, LOL, and joke it up. Up next, I have for you the perfect holiday party hostess gift:

See? You walk in the door, hand her this, hustle her into the kitchen, and insist she fill and freeze them immediately. Instead of water you could use juice! Or vodka! And then everyone’s drink… is slowly diluted. And possibly now alcoholic if it wasn’t before. Okay, so maybe not so much on the juice and vodka, depending. Maybe add some drops of food dye. That would be nifty. The point is, everyone would have ice cubes made of music!

I’m sure there are various incarnations of these floating around the internet, but I found these at ModCloth for about ten bucks.

Have keyboard, will travel

This particular music present is good for piano students, but awesome for anyone with a wonky sense of humor like me: a roll-up portable keyboard.

No, no, that’s not Photoshop! It’s just crazy awesome. It’s a fully functional electric keyboard with three octaves worth of keys, a speaker, volume control, and you can ROLL IT UP INTO A BALL. I don’t even play the piano and I’m envious. Can someone PLEASE invent a roll-up cello?

If you do have a pianist on your list (or maybe a composer? Good for on-the-go bursts of inspiration), you can get it at Amazon for a little under $40.