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Playground Sessions™ and Yamaha Music Interactive, Inc. have partnered to offer Playground’s piano and keyboard learning software on Yamaha’s popular MusicSoft™ platform using Playground's Play To Learn™ technology. 

Co-created by the music producer, composer, and artist Quincy Jones, Playground’s keyboard learning program launched on the Yamaha site in mid-December.

“Playground Sessions employs technology, popular music, and classic hits, as well as elements of gaming to reach the musician in all of us," according to Playground Sessions' CEO, Chris Vance. “In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to provide an interactive experience, allow for instant gratification, let users learn at their own pace, and serve up content they relate to and are inspired by.”

Read more: Playground Sessions and Yamaha Music Interactive Enter Partnership

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Ashly Audio announced the appointment of Sound Directions, Ltd. as its exclusive distributor in the United Kingdom. Sound Directions caters to consultants and A/V integrators with peerless systems knowledge and a free system designing and programming service. The Chessington, Surrey-based company will distribute Ashly’s entire line of products, including Ashly’s networked multi-channel amplifiers, Protea DSP-equipped amplifiers, and customizable user interfaces, such as Ashly’s iPad app.

Stanislas Boivin-Champeaux founded Sound Directions in 1998. “From the very start, we’ve worked closely with our customers to demystify the vast array of technologies that are available in the installed A/V market,” he said. “When it benefits our clients, we happily design and program systems that work flawlessly under the pressures and challenges of the real world. We’ve seen countless systems designed by others that left end-users with a system that they did not understand and could not operate. We go the extra mile to ensure that this is never the case for the systems we design. A job is never complete until everyone is perfectly satisfied.”

Read more: Ashly Audio Appoints Sound Directions as Exclusive UK Distributor

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On-Stage announced its Outstanding AIMM Dealers of 2014 during a reception held at Winter NAMM. This year’s recipients included Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers, West Music, Dietze Music, Paige’s Music, and Palen Music Center.

Jeremy Payne, On-Stage sales & marketing director, described the award in his comments, “TMP is a proud and longtime partner of AIMM. As a whole, AIMM is a fantastic organization and each year we like to recognize the very best performers in the group. We select the recipients of the Outstanding AIMM Dealer Awards based on many criteria, including purchasing growth, product assortment, business communication, and overall support of our lines. It is truly rewarding to be able to recognize these great friends and partners for their dedication to The Music People in 2014.”

Read more: On-Stage Honors the Outstanding Dealers of 2014

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Blackstar Amplification has announced a new partnership with Kimberly Freeman, the front-woman of rock duo One-Eyed Doll. Freeman has chosen the HT Metal 100 Series Amps as her go–to for the band’s upcoming North American spring tour.


"I'm so excited to bring the Blackstar HT Metal 100 on our Witches album release tour this Spring! As the guitarist in a two-piece rock band, it's so important to have an amazing sounding amp. One-Eyed Doll is just drums, vocals and one loud guitar. No backing tracks or tricks, so the amp has to be powerful. It's the backbone of our show,” shared Freeman.  “The rich, clear tone of the HT Metal 100 has everything I need for any size venue. I can't wait to show it off!"

Read more: Kimberly Freeman Partners with Blackstar Amplification

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Brent Fitz is now using the Vater MV-10 Model Drumstick. His first public performance with theVater MV-10 was on Conan on February 5th. 

A quick backstory on how Fitz ends up in a band with Slash and the guys… The musical dots that connected Fitz and Slash started in 2010, and were certainly 20 years in the making, but most likely due to Fitz’s diverse resume and much respect amongst his musical peers, who all turned Slash’s attention towards Fitz when searching for the ‘right’ guys to be in his band.

Read more: Brent Fitz now using Vater Drumsticks

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Casio America, Inc is proud to announce it will be donating digital pianos and synthesizers to six new Notes for Notes® Recording Studios at Boys & Girls Clubs and after-school facilities across the country. The donated instruments will be used by the Notes for Notes team to help give youth the opportunity to explore, create, and record music for free particularly in geographic areas of the highest need that are also removing arts from the curriculum.

"Music can be a very powerful outlet for today’s youth to express themselves in a positive way and it can also be a great tool for developing an individual’s self-esteem,” said Stephen Schmidt, Vice President of Casio’s Electronic Musical Instrument Division. "We are proud to support such a worthy cause like Notes for Notes and we’re excited to bring our electronic musical instruments to the new recording studios, enabling the aspiring musicians of tomorrow to fine-tune their skills."

Read more: Casio Donates Keyboards to Notes for Notes


Yamaha has announced the appointment of Frank Gutwein as district manager for the company’s Pro Audio & Combo Division. His territory includes Northern California, Northern Nevada, Utah and Colorado. He reports to Frank Yardley, western regional sales manager.

Prior to working at Yamaha, Gutwein held the position of district sales manager at Peavey Electronics, where he covered much of the same region he will oversee at Yamaha. At Peavey, Gutwein managed and developed all of the musical instrument, multi-chain store, audio-visual and rental company accounts. His work earned him “Rep of the Year” in 2014.  

Read more: Yamaha Appoints Gutwein as Pro Audio & Combo District Manager

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On-Stage presented its third annual Dealer of the Year award at the 2015 Winter NAMM Show. Established in 2012, The Dealer of the Year award is presented to On-Stage dealers who have shown exceptional growth, customer service, and commitment to the On-Stage family of brands. This year’s award was presented to Kraft Music. Ben Kraft, Brandon Zunker, and Jamie Medina were on hand at the On-Stage Booth to accept the award.

In 2014, Kraft Music demonstrated the largest On-Stage products sales growth among all authorized dealers. On-Stage brands include On-Stage Stands, Hennessey, DrumFire, Hot Wires, and Audio Spectrum. Kraft Music’s commitment to On-Stage brands illustrates the win-win relationship between On-Stage and its dealers, moving both sides towards continued success.

Read more: On-Stage honors Kraft Music

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MusicNomad Equipment Care’s Humilele, a humidifier for the ukulele, will now be included with every Kala Elite Ukulele sale. The Elite Ukulele is Kala’s newest American made high end ukulele.

“Kala wants to ensure our customers understand the critical nature of proper humidification of their ukuleles. That’s why we chose the Humilele humidifier,” says Mike Upton, founder of Kala Brand Music Company. “MusicNomad’s Humilele is the perfect size for the ukulele and with its special anti-drip Humid-i-bar insert that holds a lot of water, it gets the job done with less maintenance,” says Upton.

Read more: Kala to Include MusicNomad Humilele with every Elite Ukulele

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The Krewe of Endymion Parade, started at City Park and Orleans Avenues in New Orleans, and from there took visitors on a journey that figuratively at least reached far beyond the confines of the Crescent City. Built around the theme “Fantastic Voyages,” the largest and most legendary of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parades, featured floats depicting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, and other tales of transcendent journeys. Accenting it all, along with 2,650 masked revelers tossing beads to the crowds are Geyser RGB Foggers from CHAUVET DJ and Video Panels from CHAUVET Professional.

“Chauvet products are a key part of our design,” said Ray Ziegler of RZI Lighting (New Orleans), which does most of the lighting and special effects lighting for Endymion. “Being in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, the Endymion floats have to be very lush and rich visually to capture the imagination. Yes, the Chauvet products certainly contributed to this look.”

Read more: CHAUVET DJ Geyser RGB Adds Impact To Mardi Gras Floats

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