Friday, 23 January 2009

Snow, French Music and Cello Rosin

This week we had more snow, the biggest flakes I have seen falling in many years.  It stuck around for a few days before melting away.  All the fields and trees were covered - it was very pretty while it lasted.

Last night I went to a concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, to hear the Halle Orchestra play French Music - Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Debussy's La Mer, and other works by Saint-Saens and Ravel.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable, except for the noise made by all the people who feel the need to cough during the performance.  I sometimes think they should hand out cough sweets before the concert starts!

On the subject of French music, at this time of the year I update all (yes, all 5,000) prices on my website.  Most changes are small, between 25p and £1.  This year, however, there are some major changes for the French catalogue as these are priced in Euros.  The fall in the value of the pound against the euro has meant that over the last year the sterling prices have drifted further and further away from the euro value.  So all the imported French music is now being repriced to reflect its real value against the euro - this means some very big changes, as much as +£7 for the more expensive items.  Sorry about this, but this is one of the problems businesses who import now have in the current economic climate.  

Finally, this week's big selling items have been cello rosin and Hinke Elementary Method for the oboe.  Don't ask me why, it's a mystery to me why suddenly everyone wants them all at the same time!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Top Searches This Week

Each week I check out what people have been looking for on the web, and which instruments or pieces people most often visit.

This week's winner is... the viola.

The viola isn't the kind of instrument to attract much attention, but it should be.  Its mellow tone, and position midway between violin and cello are unique and it certainly should be more popular. Like other "cinderella" instruments, few music shops stock a good range of pieces for the instrument.  I love "cinderella" instruments and make an effort to find lots of music for them.  One of my main goals is to ensure that students can find the music they need for exams up to grade 8, and so I stock everything I can find from those lists.

This week, viola scales have been popular, as has "L'alto Classique", particularly with overseas customers.  Add a sprinkling of Viola Time books, the odd concerto and sonata - all in all it has been a good week for the viola.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

On the Radio!

I had a busy international week this week, shipping orders everywhere including Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy and the US.  It's great to be able to help people play great music all the way around the world.

Anyway, I was settling down for a relaxing weekend, gardening aborted due to frozen ground, so thought I would watch bobsleigh races, tennis and make another batch of marmalade.  Then I got a phone call from the BBC.

Earlier in the week, I had suggested to Radio 4 that they cover a hidden side of all the redundancy stories in the news - the HR people who have to make all those employees redundant.  In my former life I was a HR director and making people redundant is the worst part of that job.  So, having made the suggestion, the Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House thought I should do a live interview on the programme.  Serves me right for sticking my head above the parapet!

So this morning I found myself alone in a BBC studio in Blackburn talking on national radio about my experiences.  The presenter, Paddy O'Connell, asked me what I do now and I told him, saying that I now have no employees to deal with and that's the way I like it.

You can hear the programme here

It's now over a year since I left my well paid job for this business and I don't regret it one bit.  I talk to some lovely people, and get real satisfaction from helping people find the music they want.  I don't make mega bucks and probably never will, but I don't have to sack people anymore.  A much better way of life.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A New Year

I hope you had a great break over the Christmas/New Year period and wish you all the best for the new year.

We have a light covering of snow here at present, so my walk to the post office yesterday was rather lovely - the only creature that had been up this path before me was a fox!