Saturday, July 18, 2009


Ever since we got involved with the church band, Ken and I have returned to some old loves that we thought were long past.

He unpacked his two guitars (one electric, one acoustic); had them repaired at a rather extravagant cost; and has been practicing again. I got myself a new violin, and have been practicing as much as I can without turning it into a hated obligation.

But we didn't stop there. No no. One thing I don't write much about on my blog is that Ken and I are pretty serious shoppers. We both like shiny new things: clothes, shoes, gadgets, and now, musical instruments. I could turn this into Spark and Ken's shopping blog without any fear of running out of stuff to write about or photos to post. That's not the kind of blog I want this to be, but sometimes... sometimes the shopping trips are worth sharing.

Like today. We went to Cosmo, the Musical Instrument Superstore. It's waaaaaay at the north end of the city, up where new housing developments are still breaking ground, and there are fields of corn growing between the strip malls.

We were like kids in a candy store; every section filled with delights. Our stated purpose for being there was to check out microphone booms for the church stage. (We don't have enough fully functional booms to properly mike the piano. The piano has a hand-held mike sitting inside the body of the piano on a piece of foam. It's pretty ghetto.) So we started out in the production section. Ken took in the new, compact sound boards, ten times better than the old one he runs at the church, with a covetous gaze.

Then we checked out the guitar section. Ken is scoping cool straps, but hasn't made his mind up yet. The ones he likes best have skulls and lightening bolts on them, but he's a little concerned that they might not be appropriate for church use. Hmm... For myself I can take or leave the guitars, but I yearn to own a banjo. I have promised myself that if I ever get back up to speed with the violin, I will get myself a banjo and learn to play. Don't hold your breath.

Next stop was percussion, where we banged gongs, crashed cymbals, plunked glockenspiels, clicked castenets, and said "Bubinga!" to each other with great enthusiasm. (Bubinga is a brand of drum that happened to catch my eye. You try saying it. Bubinga! See?)

We also breezed through the electronic keyboard section, where we tortured the sales guys by picking out one-finger tunes, trying out all the cool sounds on the Korgs. I was tempted to go for a hesitant, off-tempo rendition of Axel F, but I took pity on them. Luckily the keyboards were so cool they made all of our crappy noodlings sound like the makings of super-awesome Kraftwerk remixes. If I had a few grand sitting in the bank and a spare room at home, they would have had an instant sale.

We ended our exploration in the book section, where we really went to town. In the end our final list of purchases included a pitch pipe, two kazoos, an A tuning fork (I have an electronic tuner but I miss the old-fashioned way I used to tune in high school), a book of 100 songs of the 1980's for voice and guitar (yes, I will be singing 99 Red Balloons; be glad you don't live next door), a Teach Yourself Traditional Fiddle Techniques book (be doubly glad you don't live next door), and a couple of books on the ukelele.

That's right. I forgot to mention that when Ken went to get his guitars repaired, he brought home a ukelele. It was like this little baby guitar, waiting to be adopted into a loving home. Ken couldn't just leave it there in the store. Since then, in addition to practicing his two guitars, he's been learning the uke. I've got to hand it to him; he's a natural.

We need a third for an ensemble I'd like to create: ukelele, slide whistle, and kazoo. I'll play the slide whistle. Anyone who can hum can play the kazoo. Auditions will be next week. Anyone interested?


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Me... me... me.... I've always wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Ummmm.... a musical instrument that is :)

darcknyt said...

I can play a kazoo. Mastered it fourth grade. Interested? Provide moving expenses? I'm there.

Sounds like a really fun time. I miss music stores. And money. I had both once.

whatigotsofar said...

Those new houses on the other side of Leslie over by the new Cosmo building, that's where my brother and sister live. Beautiful neighbourhood. I did a couple of jobs in there too.

Jenski said...

Sounds like a fun shopping trip. You guys are talented! I've always stuck to instruments with fingerings similar to the flute - soprano and alto recorder, oboe, piccolo...

Scarlet said...

I need to get back on the keyboards and visit the music store again! I lose track of time when I'm in there, especially when I check out and sample the sheet music. (They let me.)

I also get a kick out of hearing people do their thing...whether it's on piano, guitar or keyboards. Now a uke...I'd love to learn to play that!

Vanessa said...

Oh I can kazoo with the best of 'em!

Sounds like you had a fun day - wish I could hear you guys in the church band. :)

unsigned said...

I bet all the employees at the music store looked like Jack Black.

Jameil said...

i wanted slide whistle!!! hmph. music stores really are like giant candy stores! mmmm! it's been a while since i had some candy. i need to go get my fix!

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh please start a "Spark and Ken's shopping blog" as well as this one! I'd love to hear more about your shopping trips!

I'd love to be able to play a musical instrument, and I envy anyone that can. I'm not sure I'd even be good enough to hum along!

NicoleB said...

Glad you guys have so much fun :D!

Claire said...

My boyfriend loves going to the music store...he's so ready for a keyboard of his own again!


Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I can picture you tootling away on a saxaphone. I'm not sure why, but you strike me as a jazzy guy. You'd also need to get a jazzy hat. Then you'd be all set.

darcknyt: Like any band, we have no money to provide moving expenses. But when we go on tour we can all live in an old, beat-up school bus with the seats ripped out. Still tempted? ;-)

wigsf: It does seem very nice in that area. Very new, clean, and spacious. The GTA grime factor has not yet had its way with that neighbourhood.

Jenski: That's a good range of instruments. For whatever reason, my school had all grade four students study the recorder. It's a very pleasant instrument. I've always had a soft spot for Greensleeves.

Scarlet: Yup, live music is awesome, whether improvised or rehearsed. I don't get enough of it. I'm so, so happy to be involved im making music again. It's been almost 20 years since my high-school orchestra which I loved so much. I didn't know I'd have another chance in my life to play in a group, so this is a true blessing.

Vanessa: I wish you could hear us too! If we ever make a recording I'll post a sample. We've gotten good enough that I wouldn't be too shy to share.

Unsigned: Why? Because of School of Rock?

Jameil: Well, we have two slide whistles, so you could play one. We could make a quartet instead of a trio, with ukelele, kazoo, and first and second slide whistles. You could pick between the melody and the harmony.

Joe: It's tempting, but to be honest I barely devote enough time to this blog. I'll mull it over. If I started a shopping blog posting might be sparse. I'd always be too busy shopping to post! ;-)

Nicole: Thanks! :-)

Claire: Any chance he'll be getting one soon? There's nothing more attractive than a man who plays music. :-)

powdergirl said...

I can hum, sign me up!
Can we wear really awesome costumey stuff when we rock out?

Sparkling Red said...

Powdergirl: Of course! That's the whole point! :-)

Aurora said...

..sounds like a good word!