Music Trade Review

Music Trade Review 1928 - Portland Mandolin Orchestra

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Music Trade Review - Music Industry Magazine

Online Library: 1880 - 1933, 1940-1954

The Music Trade Review was published out of New York from 1878 until at least 1956. It apparently suspended publication with the January 1933 issue. Publication was resumed under different management sometime between 1937 and 1940. Our online library contains issues from 1880 to 1933, and from 1940 to 1954. Additional years are available for review at a number of libraries. Search for more information about the holdings of other libraries, or ask your local librarian for assistance.

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Bring Mandolins Back! - Portland Mandolin Orchestra



Bring Mandolins Back!

All Music Dealers Want It

Some Music Dealers Do It

BRING the mandolin back!

That is the cry of the music dealer everywhere. But the trouble is that far too many dealers are ready enough with the cry, but stop far short of any action that would bring it back. They long for the days of the so-called "gay nineties" when every section of the community had its mandolin club, but they shrug their shoulders and mutter despondently, "Oh, well, those days are gone forever."

Now and then, however, we see that a dealer has alertness  enough to force the issue by taking measures to stimulate interest in the instrument. W. A. McDougall, of Portland, Oregon, has just organized the Portland Mandolin Orchestra, an organization whose purpose is to stimulate interest in the mandolin and also the guitar and the banjo. A mandolinist and a lover of the instrument itself, Mr. McDougall is also a partner in the McDougall-Freiheit Music Co., so he has a twofold interest in the revivification of the instrument.

McDougall's new orchestra caused somewhat of a sensation last week when it appeared in picturesque costume in concert before 2,000 pupils of the Washington High School in Portland.

The orchestra was started in a very simple way. Mr. McDougall had been giving a great deal of thought to the mandolin and wondering how to bring it back to the high estate it once enjoyed. During the past several years many mandolinists and potential mandolinists had transferred to the tenor banjo, and while many music dealers are inclined to look upon this as a good thing, for it fosters the sale of a highpriced instrument in the tenor banjo, Mr. McDougall was inclined to believe that maybe the dealer could eat his cake and have it, too. Why not sell as many tenor banjos as you can and at the same time go right ahead selling mandolins?

What was needed, he decided, was some method that created interest in the mandolin and created prospects for the sale of the mandolins.

So the idea occurred to him of assembling Portland's finest mandolin teachers who were also the best players in the city and forming an orchestra from their ranks. He broached the subject to Hal Webber, to Ed Root, to Harold Van Avery and to several of the leading lady players. He found it easy to imbue them with some of his enthusiasm for the plan and in a short time organization was effected.

Portland's nine best mandolinists and guitarists began to gather once a week at the Mc- Dougall-Freiheit music store. Rehearsals were held and the promotion of mandolin music came in for regular discussion by those persons best able to discuss the subject. Ideas were exchanged and developed.

One of the ideas that came out of the rehearsal hall was the purchase of a distinctive costume for the club members, a picturesque affair suggestive of the troubadours of Old Spain. The instrumentation of the orchestra regularly includes four mandolins, a mandola, a mando-cello, mando-bass and two guitars. The players occasionally double on other instruments, including the banjo.

Each of the nine players in the orchestra has a wide following of players and pupils and already the work of the orchestra has been the means of securing a great many new pupils. The old pupils are being encouraged to band together for their own amusement and musical development into mandolin clubs patterned after the orchestra.

In addition to the concert at the high school, which was attended by 2,000 school children, a number of other public appearances of the orchestra have been scheduled, so the work of promoting the mandolin and its music is being broadcast, not only in Portland, but throughout this entire section.

The McDougall-Freiheit store reports that its mandolin business, as well as the business of its entire fretted instrument section, has shown a marked increase since the formation of the orchestra. Fretted instruments are featured in the window displays and the salespeople have been pepped up to the point where they are using the orchestra to develop sales.

"The mandolin is one of the oldest of musical instruments and it is far, far from being a dead number if the dealer will show the proper amount of interest," declares Mr. Mc- Dougall. "I am inclined to believe that far too often it is the dealer who is dead rather than the instrument he condemns. You know we are living in a rapid age, commercially and every other way.

"I find in my talks with other merchants in other lines that they have the same problems. The public is asked to buy so many things that public interest in any one commodity will lag unless the merchant selling it puts a very special effort behind it. And when he does so he finds many undeveloped sales waiting for him that never would have been realized.

"That is why we are making such an effort to bring the mandolin to public attention. I love the mandolin myself and have always played it, so it was a pleasant task for me to organize anything for its benefit, but I believe that any dealer can find a great deal of interest in mandolin music if he looks into it.

"We found that this club of able players presenting good music made a hit with the public in dramatizing the possibilities of a neglected instrument. The colorful and romantic costumes also did their share to build up the picture, which goes to show that in presenting an idea to the public care must be taken in the stage managing. When you have an idea to sell see that the setting helps you do the job.

"Of course I don't want to give the idea that the costumes are the big thing. The music is the big thing and the costumes a minor detail, but if every detail is right the music will be better.

"There is no doubt that a mandolin orchestra or club will stimulate business for any music dealer. It gives him valuable publicity for one thing, and it attracts widespread public interest for another. It makes the store a musical center because the members of the orchestra get in the habit of congregating there. Every dealer should have one."

Other cities besides Portland are beginning to hear the magic strains of the mandolin orchestra. Conrad Gebelein, of Baltimore, Md., gave a concert with his club last month, and people came from far and near to hear it. Walter Bauer, of Hartford, Conn.,' aroused great enthusiasm in the Foot Guard Armory in his city, when several thousand turned out to hear a group of talented mandolinists. A. Watson, of Winfield's Music Store, Grand Junction, Col., reports that he has little trouble enrolling pupils in the mandolin club he is forming. And there are many more of these examples who are doing the same thing.

The dealer can do a big job here if he wants to tackle it. The problem is to make the mandolin fashionable once more. Fashions come and go—in music as in everything else. It is time for a real fretted instrument revival and a big one

Get a mandolin club started.

Give public concerts.

Get publicity and press notices.

Display mandolins in your window.

Advertise them.

Present one to the mayor.

Do a real publicity job for the mandolin and you will find interest easy to revive. Pattern after the Portland orchestra and taste some of their success.

But start now!


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