School Band und Orchester in Europa auf der Musikmesse

Mike Lawson • Commentary • May 19, 2015

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Mike Lawson (c) Sterling OrtizI recently returned from another annual trip to Frankfurt, Germany where I again attend the Musikmesse/ProLight + Sound tradeshow. Some of our American readers will have never heard of this event. While attendended is similar in size at both the NAMM and Musikmesse/ProLight + Sound show, the amount of exhibit space used and the meeting facilities employed in Frankfurt are enormously different.

It is in essence, the NAMM Show of Europe, and it’s big. It’s really, really big. Whereas NAMM is pretty much one gigantic takeover of the Anaheim Convention Center in one building (with the exception of Yamaha, which takes over the ballrooms of the adjacent Anaheim Marriott Hotel), Musikmesse/ProLight + Sound is in multiple buildings, with an inner courtyard area that has little buses taking attendees from building to building to see the company exhibits of every kind of musical equipment sold on planet Earth.

More than 108,000 visitors from 146 countries were able to look at new products from 2,257 exhibitors. One building will focus on print music, strings, and related instruments, over multiple floors; another building will have a first floor of only piano makers, with the second floor hosting MIDI keyboard, DJ, and home/pro recording products. Other buildings are dedicated to guitar, or to professional sound reinforcement, or stage lighting systems. Yamaha takes over an entire building all on their own. Did I mention this show is big?

I visited booths from band and orchestra instrument manufacturers that include names we’ve all come to know like Conn/Selmer, Jupiter, Yamaha, and scores of others, while also getting to see the immense amount of manufacturers of band and orchestra instruments from companies whose products aren’t so readily available in the USA, but are mainstays of the school music programs in Europe and much of the rest of the world.

The common thread between these manufacturers selling the USA vs Europe and other places is music education. I spoke to manufacturers from Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Russia, the UK, China, Vietnam, Korea, and more. At each booth, I heard enthusiastic reports of the importance of school music programs in their native countries, and how their companies flourish because their schools, their teachers, and their governments place a lot of importance on teaching their children to play music from a very early age in schools. Traditional orchestras, concert bands, marching bands – these are foundational classes for students around the world, which enjoy support because their respective countries have the attitude that learning music is a critical part of childhood development. They recognized what we often say here in the USA as well, “music makes you smarter.”

One unique aspect of Musikmesse is their devotion to children’s music. Thousands of children are brought to this trade show annually on field trips with their schools to participate in a massive hands-on program in a dedicated exhibit hall setup with musical instruments that are suited for groups of kids to play around with to discover the joy of making music and sounds. These kids enjoy group-led workshops geared for their age groups, as well as live performances throughout the day over the course of the trade event. Now, having been attending NAMM shows in the USA for over two decades, I can honestly say that there just isn’t space available for NAMM to do something like Musikmesse does, even though I am certain that if space were available, NAMM would indeed produce something similar. In the USA, NAMM supports and produces a lot of programs that help interest kids in music from an early age. So this commentary is no slight on my good friends at NAMM who are working with different circumstances here and doing amazing things for music education; its more of a kudos to my friends at Musikmesse who dedicate such a massive amount of space, time, and resources annually to make sure that these school children are allowed a very enriching experience in what looks like a gigantic musical playground. That’s what it’s all about to me, appealing to the creative energy of children early in life with music – to enrich their lives with the arts, and in the end, to make them smarter. 

So for your efforts at continually providing an excellent experience for children to discover the joy of making music, I salute you, Musikmesse/ProLight+Sound.

ML Signature

Mike Lawson

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