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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After another check-up, F# is back!

this morning I called allegro of oxford to see if I could get an expert opinion on my missing F#.

The owner of Allegro was very good, as usual and offered to take a look at it today.
Apparently the proprietor has a colleague that carries out the repairs on a Tuesday and Thursday, so I took the opportunity and rushed home, picked up my Sax and took it in for a check-up.

After a quick look, it did seem that something was wrong, but it only became apparent when the instrument was played, when putting a light down the tube, there seemed to be no indication of leeks.

After a bit of a play, the octave key looked like it could do with a bit more play, so this was adjusted.

Then to test it myself I had a play, as soon as I did the professional ear of both these experts noticed that I was playing with a hard reed (I have been using Rico Royal 3.5), this seemed a bit hard, in fact it was referred to as a plank of wood.

So calling on over 50 years of experience I moved to the recommended reed which was a Vandoren Java 2.5 (in a red box), this gave a much better sound, it also showed that maybe the reed I was playing with was a bit hard, and this may have exaggerated the missing F# problem.

Anyway watch this space, the debut mp3 will be coming soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Trouble with F#

After the initial problem I had with the dodgy “A” key a while back it seems that I now have a similar problem with the “F#” key.

When trying to play a low “E” or “F#” (and sometime “G”) it feels like I cannot get the tone, the sound is “A bit Airy”.

At first I though maybe this is me? am I not holding the correct embouchure?

Is my reed damaged?

Well after checking these out and asking my tutor to take a look at the Sax, it seems that the problem is the Sax, not the player.

Of course as a relative beginner, this is good news to me, as at first I just thought it was me.

So it looks like another trip to Allegro in oxford, and a longer wait for that first MP3 of my progress so far.

Hopefully it will be worth the wait!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Social Media

It seems the the whole world has been put into a spin over social media site.

Every where we look now, we have social media, most people with access to a computer are using this as a tool to keep their friends updated with what they are doing via the use of twitter, others are using facebook to keep in touch with friends and family that may be spread over a wider geographical area.

From a business perspective, it seems that Linkedin is the place to be, where you can allow your network connections to be visible by others in your network, this system seems to be a multi level network system, and also has the ability to allow direct contact with either people you are connected to or people you are not.

Social media has to be seen as a positive tool, in the ever changing world we live in, this is just another mechanism that we can use to stay in touch and build up our social circle.

The question is, is this just another fad, that will become outdated? or will it be a base that other applications both business and personal will be built on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Fix

After a quick dash into Allegro  this morning, I have my A key fixed, I can now blow a smooth tone. I took my sax into the shop, the guy that does the repairs was there working on another repair, he stopped, cleared up and took my sax over to his bench and started the repair.

I have to say these guys have been around a bit and obviously know their stuff, they are friendly, helpful and always willing to offer good advice, only a fool would ignore them.

While I was in the shop and the repair was completed (while I waited) I asked for some cork grease as I hadn’t got any with the sax, so the owner just threw one in and I was on my way, back to the reality of work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Found the problem with A

I was beginning to get really worried about my ability to blow a good note, I had seemed to made some good progress so far with the notes I had learned except for A.SDC10137

So looking more closely at the key depressions I noticed the fault, when pressing the fingers for A, one of the pads had lost a cork, and therefore the pad was not covering the hole properly, causing the airy effect and hollow flat sound, at last I knew the cause.

I quickly called the music shop where I had hired the sax from, allegro, and explained the issue, the owner was quite surprised, which I found odd, as this is a well documented feature of this particular brand of saxophone.
anyway I have arranged to take the sax back tomorrow morning for a “while I wait” repair.

Meanwhile I made up a quick fix with a piece of rubber and an elastic band, It seemed to work for the day, and kept me able to practice for a while longer.

soon I may even post some mp3 recordings of my progress, if I feel confident enough.

Good Sax or Bad Sax?

When I made the decision to learn the sax, I did some research on the web to see what was a good sax, what was a bad sax and what should I be paying for a sax to learn on?

It seems that everyone has an opinion, especially people that sell saxophones!, anyway I had been looking at a site called the sax shop, this site seemed to have some opinions about cheap Indian and Chinese imports, but suggested some of their own saxes for starter kits.

Anyway, time went on and I eventually ended up in the Allegro music shop in Oxford, where I bought a Bauhaus Walstien Tenor Saxophone, assured by the owner that these are probably the best saxes in the starter range, and indeed offered me recommendations from other professional saxophonists that they were good. or was it just a sales pitch?(no pun intended).

Anyway, my new music teacher had not heard of these saxophones, so I went back to the web, so far all my research show is that they seem pretty good but with some minor problems with cork, I have already experienced this, so will probably take it in for a quick repair at the weekend.

meanwhile I am having a real problem blowing an A. B is fine and so is C and G ( that's as far as I have got after only one lesson), so maybe I should get this checked out too ( or is is just my blowing that is poor).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Found a Teacher, First Lesson Free

Well now I have a saxophone, what I really need is some lessons.

After looking up a number of directories on the web, and a list that was given to my by the owner of the shop where I have hired my sax from, I finally found a teacher that fitted all the criteria.

  • Reasonably priced
  • Fairly local
  • Free Lesson Slot on a Sunday (close to 3 O.clock)
  • relevant experience

With the first few I called they were either too busy, or too expensive or too far away (or all of the above).

Finally I called a Michal Bredik, he is primarily a clarinet teacher, but also teaches saxophone, but he was able to teach me in my own home, on a Sunday (late afternoon) and was reasonably priced.

After a quick chat and a few texts, Michal was able to offer me a free trail lesson on the same day, now that's what I call dedication, the deal is, if we both get on as teacher / pupil, we continue the relationship, if not we part, thankfully we both got on well and i think we will have a good teacher / pupil relationship, i am looking forward to my future lessons.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A New Saxophone!

Some of you may not know, but in my school days i always wanted to play the saxophone.bauhaus_walstein_tenor_pb4

The school that i went to had a good musical department, so one day off i went to see about joining the band..

Unfortunately, they had enough sax players, so i ended up playing the trombone, which i did happily until was 18 years old, when i gave to join the army.

But for many years i have had the wish to play the sax, so at the age of 44, my wife and daughter decided to rent me a sax for 2 months as a fathers day present, if i like it and get on with it, i get to keep it.

see the picture of what i have to get me started, I'll keep my progress posted on the blog.

Monday, June 8, 2009

We’re getting a dog…

For some time now, our daughter has been asking the question all parents dread.. “Can i have a dog”.
Both of us have grown up ourselves with pets in the family as well as dogs, so are well aware of the responsibility as well as the fun and friendship that can be gained from a family pet.

we have always had some form of small pet to get our daughter into the mindset of looking after a pet, such as a hamster & our current pet, Henry the guinea pig.

up until now we have always said, that our daughter can have a dog for her 13th birthday, as hopefully by then she will be both strong enough and mature enough to cope with looking after a dog, however!!, after 3 years of asking, we have finally decided that we will get a dog now, after our next holiday in July.

we have no idea what we are going to get, other that it will most likely be a rescue dog, so in the meantime we must start preparing to secure the garden and all the other preparations to make the home dog friendly.

and of course, start to register with some dog rescue organisations.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Phone – Android G2

See full size imageAs you will probably remember i work in the IT industry and as a result i often keep my eye on what technologies are available and how they could potentially be used with the business that i work for.
Recently i thought that it was about time i looked for a new phone with our current supplier (Vodafone), and was pointed towards the HTC magic, also marketed as the android G2.
I was unimpressed when i heard that HTC were the manufacturer as they have not really managed a good business phone in the past, the HTC touch diamond looked good but had such poor battery performance made it an almost unusable device.

So how would the HTC Magic compare?

well on first view it looks good, feels good and the spec seems to support all the things you would expect, until of course you try to use them…

here are the weaknesses I have found so far:

  • Bluetooth, although the device support Bluetooth 2, it is very –basic, for example, it does not support Bluetooth dial up networking, this means that i can hook it up to my tomtom satnav to get traffic updates.
    It does support audio though so will hook up to the car audio system for hands free calling, however it does not allow the sending of contacts via Bluetooth, another major weakness.
  • Email, although the specification states support for exchange email, it appears to be missing,what's more the guys at Vodafone could not tell me why, even though they expected the phone to support exchange.

overall the device is nice to use and seems to be a real competitor to the iphone, however at a cost, is the phone really worth £370? i don't think so.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sign our Petition

Please sign our petition [[petition-2]]

It’s been long time…..

Well, its been a long time since my last post, so what's been going on?

well in truth i have just been so busy with normal life, being a father and husband with a growing daughter, i find more and more that i just run around making sure our daughter gets all she needs, this ranges from helping with homework (when i am home in time from work) to all of the other little things that us fellas do apart from work that is.

Anyway, i promise to do better in the future, so watch this space.