I just got back from my first trip to the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA…it was amazing, overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time! I got to spend 4 exciting days checking out all the latest music gear, meeting some of my musical heroes and making some good business contacts.
I thought I’d write up a quick article to tell you a little bit about the trip, and also share some of the cool new products I discovered while I was there. These are things that can help you as a guitar teacher, and products your students will want to know about…and now they can hear about them from YOU FIRST!
NAMM Trip: A Quick Recap
I won’t go into too many details about the trip here, because I’m devoting episode 16 of the STG Podcast (available to STG All-Access members) entirely to NAMM…including stories from my trip and how you can go there yourself next year. One of the fun parts about the NAMM Show is getting to meet some pretty high-profile musicians…here are a few photos from the show (click the thumbnails to see them full-size):
I also got to talk to some great people in the music book publishing industry, some folks that work for the major guitar magazines, and the owners of some cool new music-related businesses that are just starting up. It was a great trip, and I’m really grateful that I was able to attend. Again, check out episode 16 of the STG Podcast for more info about my trip to the NAMM Show.
Let me start by saying that most of this new stuff isn’t available in stores yet…NAMM is where the manufacturers introduce their latest products to all the music retailers for the first time, so you’re getting this info before the general public does. I’ll include links back to the manufacturer’s website for each item below, so you can get more information about release dates, etc.
Yamaha THR Series Amps
The Yamaha THR series won awards at the NAMM Show, and it’s something many of your students might be interested in. This new “practice amp” looks kind of like a light-up electric lunchbox…it’s small enough to fit on your coffee table or desk, it runs on batteries (as well as AC power), it connects to your computer via USB and has great hi-fi stereo sound (similar to an iPod dock). You can play your MP3′s through it (or any audio you like), and also plug in your guitar and jam along.
The unit is small, portable, sounds fantastic, and best of all…it’s affordable. Until your students start to gig, this might be the only amp they need. It would also be a great addition to your teaching studio, and would work really well for teaching lessons. Check out this quick video that runs through some of the tones you can get out of this cool little amp:
The “Speedster” series from Traveler Guitar is really cool. These instruments are small enough to fit into an airline overhead compartment and they have a built-in Pocket Rockit headphone amp, but they still have a full-size neck and they play and sound great. Perfect for students who travel a lot and need a small guitar to bring with them so they can practice while on the road.
This model isn’t technically “new”, but I hadn’t heard about them before…so they were new for me! I got to play around a little bit with one of these, and I really liked it. I still try to practice at least an hour each day, but I couldn’t do that at NAMM because I didn’t want to pay extra baggage fees to bring a guitar along…one of these would have solved that problem. I’ll definitely be buying one soon! Here’s a quick video about the Traveler Speedster guitars:
PocketStrings is a cool new practice tool that lets you work on chords, scales, hammer-ons/pull-offs, etc. and also lets you build up your callouses without needing to have a real guitar in your hands. They come in a variety of colors, they use real guitar strings and like the name implies, it fits in your pocket. The current version has 4 frets, but there’s also a 6-fret model coming soon that will be better for practicing things like 3-note-per-string mode patterns.
For around $20 you can do some pretty realistic left hand training and practice without making any sound at all and you don’t have to carry around any gear. Not too bad! I’m pretty sure some of your students would really like these. Check out this video that shows the PocketStrings product in action:
Modality from Musicreed is a great way to teach your students music theory. It’s a series of small cardboard wheels that work just like a pocket music theory calculator. There are two versions of the product, a large “classroom-sized” version for teachers and personal version for students that’s small enough to fit into a guitar case…and it only costs around $10.
I can’t really do this system justice here, so I’ll do a product review for you later with a video demonstration…but let me just say that I was really impressed! I spoke with Amir Perelman at NAMM, who’s a music theory whiz and the brains behind this product…and he told me about some research they did using Modality. The theory students who used it actually did 20% to 25% better than those who didn’t! I’ll have some more info about this product for you soon.
NoteMap for Guitar is a really simple learning tool to help your students master the guitar fretboard. It’s like a small mouse pad that fits right on top of your acoustic guitar, and it has a labeled visual diagram of every note on the fretboard, so you can just look down and see what note you’re playing anytime you want.
They also make a full sized “mouse pad” version you can use on your desk, music stand or tabletop…and there are also versions for bass and ukulele. This would be something good to give your beginner to intermediate students who are having trouble with fretboard memorization.
Chord Dice is a unique little product that helps you write songs more easily. It’s a set of 5 green “dice” that are labeled with a chord name and a scale degree…you just roll the dice and a random chord progression appears before your very eyes. All the chords that appear are from the same “chord family” and will work together nicely. If you don’t like one progression, just roll the dice again to get a brand new one.
Currently the dice only come in the key of G, but more keys will be available soon. I can see using these in your guitar lessons to kind of mix things up when you’re teaching chords to your beginner and intermediate level students.
There were obviously thousands of products on display at the NAMM Show, but these are just a few that I thought would be interesting to guitar teachers. I’ll do more in-depth reviews for some of these in the near future, and hopefully even do some giveaways…so stay tuned!