Okay, this post is a little late in coming, but for very good reason; we were so overwhelmed by the post-show order activity that this, 3 weeks after the show, is the first opportunity I’ve had to write this commentary.
So, Mondomusica, the world-renowned stringed instrument convention, which was held in the US, NYC specifically, for the very first time ever, may not have been the “hugest” show in terms of square footage of space, or number of exhibitors, or even number of visitors,,, but it was HUGE for The Slipper TM,,, a huge, and unexpected, success! Our rest was overwhelmingly well received, by both consumers and dealers alike, as well as instrument makers and artists. Here’s what the 3-day event looked like for us -
The event coordinators did a wonderful job; it can be compared to a quote I once read about the Alpha Romeo [in general], “it’s like a powerful flock of birds all flying together, no one part of the flock is perfect, but it moves together in a beautifully coordinated way”. The preparation may have had its shortcomings, but the coordinators were all so conscientious and accommodating that it worked beautifully.
Once we had our exhibit installed at 10am Friday (March 14), our first interested visitor approached. He was an Italian gentleman in his 30′s. He picked up one of the rests, gave it a profound 3 second examination, and declared, in English, “this is an abomination!” Not sure I actually understood what he had said and sure that nobody would have made a comment as rude and singularly dismissive as what I thought I heard him say, I asked, with a hand to one ear “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that…”. He once again declared, “This is an abomination! A violin should never be played with a shoulder rest attached to it!” Very surprised at this person’s omnipotent declaration, the only response that seemed able to come forth from my mouth was, “Well I’m sure that’s a perfect perspective for you.” He looked as puzzled at me as I was at him, then realized he may have just been insulted, and quickly departed. Fortunately I am very thick-skinned, professionally anyway, because this guy just called my baby ugly! I had just traveled across the country and spent a crap-load of money to exhibit at this show, only to find out that this just might be a very tough audience.
As you may know, I am too new/poor a player to have yet nurtured any level of pride in my playing ability; I play for my own personal pleasure and I LOVE the instrument. But I quickly realized that many people at this show just might take the instrument a little more seriously than I. I take my career very seriously, and that’s the perspective that I needed to incorporate into my understanding; some people are VERY serious about every aspect of this instrument and its playing and it is their career and possibly not just their pleasure. So I immediately adopted a more light-hearted, slightly combative, not martially combative but conversationally combative, attitude and prepared myself for three days of “playing to a tough crowd”, just as any stand-up comedian might. I was now mentally prepared.
Then, shortly thereafter, there appeared to be a steady stream of people interested in examining and trying The Slipper TM. I had brought to the show, my third favorite violin of my modest collection; it is a beautiful-sounding violin from the early 1900′s made by a Polish violin-maker by the name of Jarek Wojcek; I had received two offers on the violin during the show, but I declined to sell just yet. Pretty continually throughout the day, people approached our exhibit, and with entirely different responses than the first gentleman.
Over 90% of everyone who tried The Slipper TM was very complimentary, of the design, the appearance, the quality, the fit, and the comfort. Over 60% of those, loved it well enough to make at least one their own. There were several shop owners who bought several rests for their shops and have since become Dealers for The Slipper TM. We understand that the fit of The Slipper TM does not compliment everyone’s playing style, so it was no surprise to us that a number of investigators didn’t care for the fit. But we were also very pleasantly surprised at the percentage of people who “had to have one”. Those who didn’t bring enough cash to the show followed up with purchases on our site. As a result of this show, we’ve sold over 80 Slippers in two weeks!
I’d say I was most surprised by the several quality violin makers who came up and tried The Slipper TM. Each one examined our rest, played with it for extended periods of time, really listening hard; and one after another they each seemed to be listening for a faint cry from the woods, and then, there was this noticeable change to the look on their face that seemed to be a recognition of something they had been longing to hear…. the comment that came forth each time was [cumulatively paraphrasing], “this is a wonderful product,,, unlike every other rest on the market, there is a wonderful transference of sound from the instrument which other rests seem to inhibit”. And each time one of these craftsmen came up and introduced themselves and their shop, I waited with anticipation to hear their verdict, and each time it was the same. Several renowned experts were among these craftsmen; and it felt like we were receiving the Good Housekeeping Seal. This was a very rewarding experience; it validated that my baby wasn’t ugly after all.
Since this was the very first time The Slipper TM ever exhibited at a trade show, we had no idea what was appropriate and what wasn’t, so, being an ex-Boy Scout, I brought a suitcase full of Slippers, 40 in fact. While packing the suitcase full of product, I clearly remember thinking, “What the hell, am I really Willie Loman?” But after this joyous experience, and having sold all but 8 rests in 3 days, I felt pretty validated,,, that our product is great, not that I am Willie Loman!
And the last, one of the most incredible experiences of the three days came on the last day. I saw a lady, holding a handful of CDs, who was waiting to speak with someone else at the show, so I initiated a conversation with her. I discovered that her name was Victoria Voronyansky, who is this incredible violist in several well-known symphonies, holds a Masters from The Julliard School, and who is a well-known teacher and artist, and those were her CDs she was holding. We spoke for quite a while about her background, what she does, and some of her experiences, so I asked her if she’d like to try our rest. We found a nearby viola, attached The Slipper TM for Viola, and she slowly began to play. Almost immediately, her face opened up and she was smiling; she LOVED it! Victoria has a really amazing story and I felt compelled to give her one of our brand new, as of March 1st, viola rests to take with her. She was generous enough to give me a few of her CDs. Over the past few weeks, Victoria has played extensively with The Slipper TM and was kind enough to write a testimonial for us to use, which I’d urge you to read on the “Testimonials” page. And I have now listened to her CD several dozen times; it is incredible!
As a wrap up – I had a ball at Mondumusica, met some wonderful, kind, generous, and talented people, with whom I’m now developing relationships. And, getting back to the Italian pedagog; I understand that perspective but I personally reject it as antiquated and existing solely for the sake of pride. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to pursue an interest anyway they choose, but there is a very good analogy for this particular mindset. Violinists who take pride in their “pure” approach to playing and who are prideful of, for an example, their “violin hickey”, as a sign of their suffering and expertise and dedication, is in my mind, very much like the mixed martial artist today who very proudly sports his cauliflower ears because he wants to show to the world that he’s “paid his dues” and because he doesn’t want to wear head gear while sparring. But there is head gear out there that is of high quality and impeccable design that doesn’t interfere with ones fight performance. There are also accessories available that will protect you as a violinist (both epidermally and orthopedically) that are quality products with impeccable design that allow incredible sound transference and actually enhances your performance. Stop being an elitist for the sake of being an elitist and wear your head gear man!!!