Playing Poolside with Musicroom
A cocktail in one hand, a trashy paperback in the other. Headphones on, Factor 50 liberally applied. The waves are lapping softly on the shore and the sun is warming every pore. Holidays are bliss. Holidays are bliss for 3 days…maybe 4 max. But what happens when the book is finished and the cloying cocktails start to coat your teeth and your head can only take so many screaming divebombs by the kids in the pool. Now what?
At home you can seek refuge in music. Spend a lazy hour at the piano, or working on a new chord progression on the guitar. It’s not so easy when you’re away. The baby grand won’t fit in your suitcase.
At Musicroom this summer we have some musical holiday solutions. Here is a quick guide to instruments that you can throw in a rucksack or squeeze into your case and make your getaway a musical one.
The ultimate Summer instrument, synonymous with Hawaii and lazy beach days. In the last decade, the ukulele has broken free from its George Formby and Music Hall roots in the UK. Schools are choosing it over recorder as a first instrument and in pubs and village halls across the land there are uke groups bringing people together for a communal sing song the likes of which has not been seen since the War. As a quick pick up and play instrument there is nothing like it. With 2 fingers, 2 chords and 10 minutes anyone can play Yellow Submarine.
In stores we have just received the soprano TUS50 uke from Flight and it’s the perfect travelling companion. This charming uke is mostly made from ABS (the plastic used to make LEGO and computer keyboards). This gives it a durability that makes it perfect for slinging into your backpack and taking on an adventure. What makes this model stand out is that the plastic body, neck and fretboard are balanced by a Walnut top. While the plastic offers projection and accuracy of tone the edge is taken off by the wooden fascia, so with this model there is a sweetness of tone that you don’t always get with plastic instruments.
It looks cool too! The rounded ABS back gives an 80s vibe to the instrument (and makes it comfortable to hug to your chest). Also, at the £40 price point you wouldn’t expect the attention to detail you get from the flower and butterfly inlay and carved rosette motif. All this and it comes with a neat bag for easy travel. In my suitcase I’d stick a couple of pairs of socks in the sound hole for the journey – no space is wasted!
The Harmonica is definitely an instrument of the road. I picture bearded men trailing a leg out of a slow moving cargo carriage, playing mournfully as the train trundles across a prairie. It is an instrument equally at home around a campfire or at the top of a mountain. The Blues may follow you wherever you go, and with a mouth organ in your pocket you can express yourself on the spot.
The Clarke Blues Harmonica comes with a travelling bag and sturdy tube and its pocket money price (£15.99) means that if it gets left behind in a hotel room it’s not the end of the world. The distinctive gold finish on stainless steel covers houses a comfortable plastic comb and brass and silver alloy reeds. This harmonica only comes in C, which is brilliant for beginners as it’s the easiest key to navigate. With an instruction sheet and cleaning cloth included, all you need to bring to the party is some puff.
We’ve established that pianos are not portable. Keyboards can be, but they need a travel adaptor to use abroad. As with the harmonica, all a pianist needs for a melodica is a good set of lungs. Recently popularised by YouTubers The Melodica Men, this is a versatile little instrument that sounds like an accordion but plays like a piano.
Our Stagg 32 Key Melodica is light and incredibly portable. It comes with a padded bag and two different mouthpieces. You can play one handed if you’re on the move (while the other hand uses the attached strap to hold it to your mouth). Or you can rest it on a table and blow through the extended flexible tube. And since you don’t have to plug it in anywhere it gives a keyboard player the freedom to feel the wind in their hair and rain on their face while still leading the ensemble in a poolside rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
This is just a selection of travel instruments available in stores and online, what else would you pack? Remember – if you are holidaying within the UK we have 11 Musicroom branches across the country. If you’re in town, do drop by to see us in person if you’re passing.
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