Instrument Talk Levelling up with Jenny Weigel - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Jenny Weigel - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we saw this as the perfect time to encourage making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their musical talents to the next level!
In the spirit of levelling up your music, throughout the month we also profiled the amazing staff of KBB Music. These include incredible helpers you will meet at our stores who have also have vibrant musical backgrounds. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments they recommend to budding Kiwi musicians.
Originally from Wichita, Kansas in the USA, today we’re chatting with a highly skilled member of the KBB Music team – Jenny, the Service Manager and Repair Specialist at our Albany store.
Over the years, Jenny has developed a profound, long-standing interest in music and musical instruments. She first began teaching herself to play on her Grandmother’s piano as a little girl. At school, she joined the orchestra on violin, and shortly thereafter joined the band on clarinet. She never turned down an opportunity to learn how to play another instrument.
When her middle school band was lacking a bassoonist and called for volunteers, she said “Why not?!” This repeated itself in high school with oboe and double bass. She also dabbled with several other instruments at home and was an active member of her school choirs and variety shows. By the time she graduated high school, she had travelled across the US performing at venues from Epcot Center in Florida to a cruise ship out of Seattle and Vancouver.
When Jenny wasn’t making music, she was captured by the world of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering.
So it made for a convenient situation when she took on her first high school job at Senseney Music as an assistant for the repair department. While the position was originally intended to be largely clerical, the department’s staff and manager quickly discovered that she was quite handy, and set her to more “hands-on” tasks. This eventually grew into a formal apprenticeship in Musical Instrument Repair: Woodwinds, Orchestral and Fretted Strings, and Brass. She worked full time as an apprentice while attending university full time, eventually graduating with a B.A. in Music, magna cum laude, with a minor in Linguistics.
Jenny continued working as an Instrument Repair Technician at Senseney Music, developing a passion for supporting music education at all levels, and honing her skills to the fine point of specializing in woodwind repair. But in 2012 Jenny’s world was flipped upside-down when she moved to New Zealand with her young family to join KBB Music’s internationally trained and acclaimed Repairs and Service Team. Since then, she has continued to refine her skills. She has studied with the Peter Minturn Goldsmith School in New Zealand, David and Joel Straubinger in Indiana, Jeff Weissman and Luke Penella in New York, Chris McKenna in New Jersey, Powell Flutes in Boston, and several others.
Jenny also continues to enrich her knowledge with independent research and stays well connected to the international community of repair technicians and musicians.
This month Jenny celebrates her 20th anniversary in the industry! She is now managing KBB Music’s newest repair department in Albany, Auckland. In addition to offering a full range of servicing, repairs, and customer modifications for your woodwind, stringed, or brass instrument, Jenny specializes in servicing and repairing professional-level woodwinds.
She is thrilled to be a part of and to help support New Zealand’s phenomenal music community and aims to provide a strong, consistent base upon which all of New Zealand’s musicians can rely for their technical support.
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were the breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
I quite pointedly noticed when I had “stalled out” in my career in Kansas. I could have kept doing what I was doing, but I had a drive to do more, to learn more. While nothing was holding me back from learning more, I knew that if I didn’t change things up, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to apply any new learnings. So I started looking for new career opportunities.
I applied to several other retailers, as well as manufacturers including Conn-Selmer and Yamaha. Every single company was eager to offer me the position I applied for, but I turned them all down. It wasn’t enough. I wanted more room to grow, and perhaps a bit more adventure.
I eventually made contact with KBB Music, which had been looking internationally for a new technician for quite some time. The rest is history I suppose!
KBB Music has given my career the opportunity to grow that it craved. And better still, KBB Music has given me the opportunity to help grow their support toward New Zealand’s musical community!
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
I have had so many instruments come and go in my lifetime! Most were instruments that I got a hold of and experimented on as a way to develop my technical skills.
But the ONE instrument I don’t think I could ever part with is my “Buffet (C-13) International” Bb Clarinet. This particular model is no longer in production.
I very clearly remember purchasing this instrument from Senseney Music just before I started my last year in high school with every penny I saved by working for them. I had only just qualified for the “employee discount” at that time! It was the first thing I ever purchased for myself with money that I earned.
This clarinet served me well in my last year of high school, throughout my university career, and beyond.
I am also not likely to part with my first violin. Purchased by my dad when I was in middle school, it is a 4/4 Knilling violin.
What instruments would you recommend to other keen musicians?
This is a tricky question! While I am primarily a repair technician, I regularly help support KBB Music’s sales staff and clients by helping provide neutral, technical information to help find the correct instrument for each individual, especially in the realm of woodwinds and orchestral strings. As I work on and play so many instruments every day, I have a very good, broad understanding of what each instrument provides to its adopted musician. Here is a base-line that I would suggest to start with:
These instruments are selected as an ideal options for beginner students because they have:
- Good tone quality and intonation
- Reliable build and material quality
- Room for the student to grow for a number of years before needing to move up to the next level of instrument in order to keep progressing in their musical journey.
While there are options that appear more economical upfront, I believe the selections below are the most economical over the course of several years use, both in terms of maintenance and resale value. Also, bear in mind that lesser options are likely to be less reliable, which can lead to the student getting frustrated and potential quitting. They are also likely to hold back the student’s progress.
- Violin: Hofner AS190
- Flute: Pearl 505 E (With curved headjoint for younger students)
- Clarinet: Buffet Prodige
- Saxophone: Antigua 3100
This is where budding musicians start to notice and appreciate the different timbre that different makes and models have. More features also become available in this range, which can be quite daunting. I have made several suggestions for each instrument type, but it is really best to organise a play testing session with some guidance from our staff.
This is where is gets personal. I can’t make any specific suggestions for pro-instruments. At this level, all the instruments available at KBB Music are of fantastic build and material quality. Anyone who is looking for a professional instrument really should invest plenty of time playing as many different instruments as possible until they hone in on the sound they find themselves favouring!
We frequently set-up structured play-test sessions with a plethora of instruments for musicians to methodically play and narrow down. There are no time restrictions, as true music can never be rushed. Some clients spend hours, others spend days or longer finding the instrument that sings to THEM.
After all….the instrument chooses the musician! Right?!