Mary Baldwin University 175th Commencement Ceremony

Last Sunday I was asked to play baritone sax with the Stonewall Brigade Band, in Staunton, VA, for the Mary Baldwin University 175th Commencement ceremony. We played a variety of marches and ceremonial music. I mean, how often do you get to play with the 2nd oldest community band in the country? Thanks Director Bob Moody for asking me to participate.

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Why a beginning player needs a perfect playing instrument!

A parent or grandparent walks into my shop and is interested in purchasing an instrument for a student to play. The first thing they say is, “I looking for an instrument for my son/daughter for band. It doesn’t have to be too good, just something they can start on”. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! As a professional musician, who has played for 49 years, I can play past problems on an instrument because I know how to compensate, use alternate fingerings, alter my breath support, etc. Also, as an instrument repairman for 45 years I have seen this situation from the repair side. Beginning students have none of this knowledge which means, They Need An Instrument That Plays Perfectly! I can’t stress that enough, notice the bold lettering. Would you send your 16 year old, who just got their drivers license, out to drive in a vehicle that’s on the verge of breaking down? Do the books they read not need all the pages? These beginners are having enough to contend with when learning how to play an instrument for the very first time meaning:                       1) they are just learning to read music                                                                                             2) they are just learning the fingerings for each note on their instrument                               3) they are learning proper breath support, blowing a horn isn’t like the way you breathe when you run                                                                                                                                         4) using the correct embrochure, this is the way your mouth interfaces with the mouthpiece                                                                                                                                             5) the best way to hold the instrument, hopefully not slamming it into chairs, tables, etc. There are a plethora of things a young player must deal with everytime they pick up their horn so, they don’t need to additionally battle an instrument that is not playing correctly. I always have a number of used/pre-owned instruments for sale. They are all brand name and good quality instruments so, please come see me. If you have a old instrument in a closet or under the bed that hasn’t been played in a long time simply bring it to me. Let me see it and give you an honest evaluation of its condition. Maybe your Uncle Bob or your neighbor has an instrument they want to sell you again, bring it to me before buying it so I can tell you how much it will cost to get it playing in top notch condition. Plus, if I tell you that it will cost $100.00, $200.00 or whatever the amount to repair the horn, that could be a bargaining chip in your purchase negotiations. Before you buy a used car don’t you take it to your mechanic? I am your musical instrument mechanic. Also, keep in mind, not all old instruments are good instruments. Your grandfather Oscar’s trumpet might have been a respectable instrument in 1929 but by todays standards it may very well be holding you child back in band. Many of todays horns play better in tune and are easier to play than older instruments. I hesitate to make an all encompassing statement like this because there are exceptions to the rule. We come back to, bring it to me so I can give you an honest evaluation of its condition. Besides the instuments “under your bed” or the horns from “Uncle Bob or your neighbor” be cautious of instruments that you might purchase from eBay, Reverb or CraigsList. I have three words for that, “Danger Will Robinson”! I buy instruments from these places quite often and the sellers run the gamut from truthful to blatant liars. Make sure the seller will accept returns if you are not satisfied with the instrument. Even if they do offer a return policy, bring the horn to me as soon as you get so I can tell you how much work it needs. Call me if you have any questions, 434-973-4299.

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Beignets, Cafe Au Lait and the JazzFest

Back from New Orleans baby! Tons of history, boatloads of music and a veritable plethora of food filled our four days in the Crescent City. I played with four different bands during our visit. Each group was dramatically different and very exciting. The photo below is of Jackson Square which is a central spot in the French Quarter. The building in the background is St. Louis Cathedral. All around the perimeter of Jackson Square Park artists sell their art, musicians perform and a variety of wild people hangout. Just as a reference point, behind where I’m taking this photo is the Mississippi River.

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Repaired a Mauriat PMB-300UL Baritone Sax

This past Sunday Kit French was in town playing with Parachute at the Jefferson Theater. Kit does sax, piano and vocals in the band. He brought his Mauriat baritone sax by the shop for a bit of rapid repair work. The brace that connects the top of the main body to the curl had broker loose. I fixed it and had it ready for sound check later that day. Kit gave me a few tickets for the show that night so I took my grandson Shaun and grandaughter Casie. It was Shaun’s first time in a concert setting and I think they both had fun.

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Clean Me Up!

Before and after! This flute is destined to become part of an art project at my house. The top photo is before the flute was cleaned and, of course, the lower photo is after the flute was cleaned. This is the same cleaning procedure used when we do complete repads and overhauls.

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A Saxophone with Issues!

This is a Yamaha YAS-23 alto sax that came in for repair. While I was aligning the bell I noticed something odd about the low B tone hole. After removing the low B & Bb keys I discovered that the low B tone hole had been “Whacked” and obviously knocked out of round. One of these does not look like the other!

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Fallopian Tubas!

My wife, Vanessa, went to the Women’s March in Washington, DC a couple of weeks and this was one of the numerous things that she saw. So very musical, don’t you  think?

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If you play an instrument made of grenadilla wood (Clarinet, Oboe an English horn)

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Looking for an Instrument?

If you are on the hunt for a instrument for yourself or your student, well, I might have what you seek. First, check my list of instruments which is to the right of this post. Piccolos, flutes, clarinets, bass clarinets, oboes, bassoons, saxes of all kinds, trumpets, flugelhorns, trombones, French horns, euphoniums and tubas. At one time or another I have all of these horns available. If you check the list and don’t see what you’re looking for just call the shop, 434-973-4299. I might very well be in the middle of fixing up the horn that you want and just haven’t gotten it on the website yet. Also, if I know what you’re looking for I can be on the hunt for it. Call me and let’s talk.

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Oboes! Are they Satan’s Instrument? Well, yea!

Here’s one that you don’t see everyday. These photos are of a student model oboe specifically the upper and lower joints of the oboe. I am focusing on the center of the photo where the upper and lower joints come together. The upper photo is a little further away from the oboe. Do you see anything odd or out of the ordinary? Now look at the lower photo. Where the two joints, or sections, meet you will see two rods that have backed out of their designated locations. Still focusing on the center of the photo, the rod on the left is protruding out of the silver plated post on the upper joint. On the right the same thing is happening, the lower joint rod is protruding out of the post. This can cause several problems but the biggest issue is when you put the two joints together these two rods now hit each other. This hinders some keys from lining up properly which means that the keys don’t operate correctly or they don’t operate at all. Needless to say the Satanic instrument will not play the way it should play. Luckily, or maybe not so luckily, this is an easy fix. img_20161012_1347465591img_20161012_1348581

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