Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Tiptree Sneeze

This is what happens when you need to sneeze during a concert and you're holding a trombone...

Friday, 28 February 2014

Miniature violin workshop

An 18th Century Violin workshop, recreated inside a violin
I love this - it is an 18th century violin makers workshop built inside a full size violin. It was on display in the Time Machine museum in Arizona and all the instruments and tools inside are fully functional, so clever!

On the violin theme, Ricordi have just published a new edition of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons for violin and piano, you can see it here:       Unlike some complete editions, this is very affordable at £18.90.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Long Overdue Update!

A lot has been happening at VS Music Supplies, and it has been too long since I posted here.

Firstly, there is now a section for vintage and second-hand sheet music on the website.  This covers recent editions such as the one shown here, to early 20th century music.  Much more to be added over the days ahead!

Secondly, VS Music Supplies is now on Pinterest, where you can see pictures of new products, old sheet music and anything else that catches my eye!

Thirdly there has been a slight reorganisation of the website, not very radical but quite a major tweak, affecting sheet music for all instruments.  Another change to ensemble sheet music will follow later in the year.

I will keep posting new music here in due course, but the Pinterest board is more up to the minute than this blog.

In the meantime, I have come across this article about the merits of polishing a fiddle or other string instrument which I think is worth a read for all string players:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

New ABRSM Woodwind Syllabus

Today ABRSM has published the new woodwind syllabus for 2014-2017.  You can download the full syllabus in pdf using these links:
Descant Recorder
Treble Recorder

The new flute and clarinet exam books are now available, you can order the flute ones here and the clarinet ones here

There have been a lot of changes to the alternative pieces lists, plus a number of new publications.  I am working through the list at present, adding any I don't currently have on the website, as long as they are available.  Some are reprinting at the moment and some haven't yet been published.  It's nice to see ABRSM supporting some smaller publishers by putting their music on the syllabus.

Friday, 7 June 2013

New ABRSM Woodwind Syllabus for 2014

In summer each year the music exam boards bring out the new syllabus for a few instruments.  This year ABRSM is refreshing the woodwind syllabus, with new requirements for flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bassoon and recorder.  They have helpfully sent me an advance copy of all the pieces on the new syllabus and there are a lot of changes.

I'm not allowed to tell you what these are as they are under an embargo until 4th July, but there are a lot of new pieces, many from smaller publishers, which is welcome.  There are also new exam pieces books for flute and clarinet.  I am adding any pieces which I don't currently have, but there are a few brand new books which are still being printed.

One other change is that ABRSM are no longer using paper forms for exam entries, instead students/teachers have to enter online.

I will have all the pieces up on the website by 4th July, if you want to check out the syllabus in full then you can use this link to the exam section of the ABRSM website.

P.S. While they do have a shop, you will find that some of the books and delivery charges are cheaper with VS Music Supplies!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Whit Friday Contest at Diggle 2013

So the Other Half and I decided to attend the Whit Friday contests, a first for both of us.  Having selected Diggle on the basis of a map, and most importantly, the quality of the toilet roll on offer in the portaloos, we set off late afternoon and after negotiating some road blocks in various villages arrived at Diggle soon after the start.  First problem - where to park?  The steward who greeted us at the roadblock seemed bemused by the concept of two people driving to watch the contest, as opposed to being with a band or being local.  Clearly we were somewhat strange.  Since he had no suggestions, and being from a small village myself where dumping your car outside someone else's house creates serious tension, I drove around for a bit and then found a spot on a side road where I thought I would not infringe anyone's territory.

As we headed up the road towards the Diggle Dome in the driving rain it did occur to me that we were out of our minds.  As you can see from the photo above, it was raining and rainjackets were de rigeur.
 So here we were, standing on a windswept hill in the pouring rain listening to brass bands.  Above is the Diggle Dome, a hardstanding where grateful bands were able to play in the dry though as the evening wore on they did have to negotiate increasingly muddy ground to reach it.  The judge, however, got a nice dry caravan to sit in (left of photo).
 Diggle's organisation was impressive; one band marched while the previous marching band got set up on the bandstand, and while the band played under the Diggle Dome the next band got ready for the march.  This is South Milford coming up the hill.  The choice of march played was extremely varied, from traditional brass marches to jazzed up arrangements of classics, pop, rock and the inevitable Wallace and Gromit, which drew a large cheer from the bystanders.
 As the evening progressed, the numbers watching grew markedly though they were all swaddled in winter gear, as befitted the weather.  Note the couple swathed in orange tarpaulin in the photo above!  There were a few people desperately pretending it was a summer evening, with glasses of rose in hand, but most people were realistic enough to crowd round the burger stall and the ice cream stand which was doing a rather better trade in warm freshly made crepes than ice cream!  And the mud just got deeper...
 Still, the sun did come out a few times, and I have a photo to prove it!  This was taken from the band club, capturing the rare sight of a band marching in the light and the sun reflecting off the Diggle Dome beyond.  A beautiful part of the world when it's not raining.
 Of course, Other Half had to check out the beer at the band club, where the talk was mostly of cricket, strangely.

 So back to the Dome, the rain had gone but it was still bitterly cold. I bet the judge in his caravan behind the Dome was a lot warmer.  I have to confess that by this time, a couple of hours in, I was so cold we adjourned to the Hanging Gate where I hugged a radiator and Other Half indulged the habit he picked up when brass banding years ago...
 It took 30 minutes for me to start to feel warmer, thanks to the pub's excellent radiator.
 So back to the bandstand for more music.  This is Oughtibridge, whose march included that staple of the brass band world - Queen and a selection of their hits.  That was quite an experience.   I enjoyed the music, but there were definite themes in the music chosen, we heard several versions of the same pieces which was interesting as we were able to compare. The quality of playing despite the undoubtedly frozen fingers and lips was really rather good.

What did surprise me was how far some had travelled.  Leaving aside the mad and surely very hardy Scots in their T shirts and kilts, we had a band from Switzerland and here is Concord from Denmark, who were very impressive.  They came prepared for the weather, unlike the crazy Scots.

 By late evening the crowds were quite big, the mud ever deeper but everyone had a great time.  There is something unique about the sound of a brass band in the open air, which becomes even more magical when the band is unseen, the sound wafting through the trees.  Who won?  I know, but I really don't care that much, just being there to enjoy this musical relic of the Victorian age was enough, a living tradition of music making which I sincerely hope will continue for many years to come.

All in all, it was a great evening but next year I think I'll be wearing thermals....