February 2022: Whatever you do “DON’T BUY ONLINE!!”
I need to shout this from the rooftops!
During the pandemic many retailers have urged musicians to buy online. I get it. They wanted to maintain sales even though they were occasionally closed for business, and unsure of the future. At one end of the scale this can be a professional player buying a replacement set of strings……..this I get. They know their instrument inside out and know which strings they are happy with. But at the other end of the scale is retailers selling you your first instrument, whether it’s a violin, a viola or a cello… online! For many reasons this is just so wrong.
Let me try and explain my reasoning behind this.
Firstly, it saves the online retailer’s time. They don’t have to see you in person, they don’t have to discuss your needs and they don’t have to spend time with you! I love that side of things. Getting to know you is a huge part of being able to provide you with the service you deserve. By having these conversations and meeting in person is a valuable experience in being able to offer you the choices that will suit you. It is a reassuring experience for both of us.
Secondly, the online retailers expect you to make a choice decision based on pictures! By adding as much confusing, mind numbingly long-winded bumf, you feel you understand what you are being offered. Believe me you don’t know until you have that instrument in your hands. However basic or fine an instrument, whether £200 or £200,000 they all sound different. Even comparing just 2 or 3 instruments at the same price point will give you 2/3 very different sounds. You only know which you prefer if you hear/play and compare them at the same time. This purchase is not about what you see, it is ultimately about what you hear!
Thirdly, what about your accessories? This is a huge part of what I offer. I fit a chin rest and shoulder rest with you, in front of me. How do you know which chin rest and shoulder rest are going to suit you, fit your shape, the length of your neck and the curve of your collar bone and shoulder? This is something I will elaborate on in another blog as I could probably write a thesis on how important these adjustments and this fit is for you and your posture. Something that is now being discussed more in the industry, acknowledging the long-term problems associated with bad posture.
Fourthly, you are far less likely to return an item purchased online, even if it doesn’t suit you. Fact!
It is easy money for the retailer with minimal input, minimal time investment and minimal contact with you.
So Why Come to Me?
I always have and always will champion the small business, the one where you actually develop a relationship. One where you don’t just part with your money and then have no communication or understanding from the retailer of your ongoing needs. Buying an instrument means that your journey with that instrument is just beginning and you will always receive unquestionable support on many levels if you choose to come here.
So invest your time in your future. By all means do your online research but then always visit in person. It will soon become clear as to whether the retailer you visit even knows what they’re talking about. Let’s be honest about this, anyone can have a fancy website these days but not many people have the real knowledge, experience and expertise around what makes these beautiful instruments tick.
So please leave your online purchases to buying cookery books or gardening gloves from Amazon, or birthday pressies from Etsy. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by buying an instrument without trying it first hand, being fascinated by it initially then taking it home and being given time to fall in love with it. Taking the time and trouble and maybe a little effort to visit me will only add to your experience of exploration in this amazing world of string instruments.
PS: Not To Be Missed!!
In March the Alnwick Music Society will welcome Gina McCormack and Nigel Clayton in a violin and piano recital with Mendelssohn’s Violin sonata in F and pieces by Finzi, Ferguson, Fauré and Franck.