Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Sheet Music this week, 12th Dec 2012

Well, we're on the downward slope towards Christmas now, but there's still plenty to do and even though it's slowed up, there is still new music being published.  Here's a round up of the last week or two:

Barret's Oboe Method, a newly revised and republished edition.

Kuchler Concertino in D for violin, with playalong CD.

A new edition of Beethoven's Pathetique piano sonata from Barenreiter

A collection of 18th and 19th century pieces for organ in Enjoy the Organ 1

For recorder, John Playford's The English Dancing Master, which was hugely popular in the early 18th century.

For concert band, Conductor's March by Thomas Doss.

And for singers I have started adding Italian singing methods published by Ricordi.  This week we have Vaccaj's Metodo Pratico and The Art of Vocalise.  You can find them in this section.

Christmas Posting

Tomorrow is the last day for orders to be placed for instruments to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas. It may be possible to despatch after then but delivery will not be guaranteed for 24th.

For Royal Mail, posting is as normal until 21st December.  The next posting days after that will be 27th, 28th and 31st December.  Orders can of course be placed on the website, but will not be processed until the next posting day.  From January 2nd things will be back to normal!

Most if not all publishers and suppliers are closed from 21st December to 2nd January.  This means that any special order items will not be despatched until the first week in January, at the earliest.

Have a great Christmas.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

New This Week, 22nd November 2012

 With Christmas coming, I have added some new stock, and now have soprano ukuleles, including this stunning blue model.
 I've also taken the opportunity to get some better pictures of acoustic guitars - this is the purple which I think is a stunning colour, though devilishly difficult to photograph as the finish is so shiny you can see the background (including my arm) in the shot!
And here's the "Blue Burst", which is also a lovely colour.   A bit more interesting than all the natural coloured instruments!

Sheet music publication slows up at this time of year, but there have been a few new things out in the last couple of weeks.

Classic Hits for 2 Cellos - well - known tunes for cello duet
Classic Hits for 2 Flutes - tunes for flute duet

New for Euphonium - Philip Sparke's Diamond Concerto, in an arrangement for euphonium and piano, and you can get the concert band parts here

That's all for this week, have a good weekend.

Friday, 26 October 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 26th Oct 2012

At this time of year, new publications start to slow up a bit, but there are still plenty in the pipeline.

One of the instruments which suffers from a lack of good quality, interesting and above all inexpensive music is the French Horn.  Would you pay well over £20 for a book of studies?  Yikes!  Brass Wind Publications are trying to reverse that trend, almost single-handedly, and have published a number of new music books this year.  The latest is Philip Godfrey's Three Impromptus for Horn, which arrived this week.

At this time of year I get bombarded with lists of Christmas music from publishers, I can't put it all on the website so I pick and choose, trying to get something for every instrument.  So this week I also got Great Carols for F/Eb horn, which has a CD included too.  There really aren't too many carol books for horn.  I also got Great Carols for Flute, Oboe and Mallets, which has to be a first in music publishing!  Also looking to fill another gap, I got Great Carols for Bassoon, Trombone and Euphonium (TC and BC).  There aren't many carol books for bassoon either, so bassoonists get a raw deal at Christmas.

Other new sheet music this week:

Spectrum for Piano Duet(ABRSM)

Piping Down the Valleys Wild for flute (Brass Wind)

Mahler's Adagietto from the 5th Symphony for Organ (Suddeutscher Musikkverlag)

A new edition of Petr Eben's Musica Dominicalis for organ

Organ and Keyboard Music at the Salzburg Court 1500-1800 (Barenreiter)

Friday, 12 October 2012

New Sheet Music this week, 12th October 2012

The exam boards have deluged us with new syllabus books this summer and it's been hard to keep up.  Some old favourites still there, but new books making an appearance too.  This book - Scaley Winners - actually qualifies under both categories as it is a renamed and republished book that has been around for a while - as Easy Winners for the Lower Grade Scales.  It got confused with Easy Winners a lot, so it is now a lot clearer though just the same. It contains tunes specially selected for containing chunks of scales, to help kids both learn the scales and see the point of them!

Faber have been re-publishing Improve Your Sight Reading books in line with recent changes i ABRSM syllabi.  This week we have the book for cello grades 4-5, and a new one for piano duets, Grades 0-1 and Grades 2-3.

Faber has also published a title for violin called "Best of Grade".  There are 5 books, covering grades 1 to 5, and they contain a collection of previous exam pieces and favourites appropriate for each grade, with a playalong CD too.

The lastest in Schott's Jazz Ballads series, this time for Trumpet, is also available now.  A songlist to die for:
 Dream A Little Dream Of Me
  - What A Wonderful World
  - Night And Day
  - Moon River
  - Body And Soul
  - Summertime
  - Hills
  - My Funny Valentine
  - Autumn Leaves
  - Bein' Green
  - My Way
  - Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
  - Blue Moon
  - Imagination
  - As Time Goes By
  - So What

along with backing CD.

Sticking with trumpet, a new collection of Graded Exercises and Studies by Phil Lawrence is now out.

Exploring Jazz Drums is also another new addition to Schott's Exploring Jazz collection, comes with CD.

The complete organ music of Charles Ives has just been published by Theodore Presser.

And turning to Christmas, we have a number of pieces for choir:
Angels and Shepherds, The Earthly Choir, and A Blue Christmas, all by Christopher Norton.

Finally, for the budding vocalists, there is It's Never too Late to Sing Christmas, carols and songs with a CD containing piano accompaniments.

More Christmas next time.... 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 18th September 2012

This week I've done a bit more for concert band, I couldn't resist The Big Bang Theory as I love the show so much!

For younger players we have Disney Film Favorites, Jazzy Holidays and the theme from The Muppet Show.  The theme from The Titanic, My Heart Will Go On, and Excerpts from Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky), both in a flexible arrangement.

I have also belatedly added Wright & Round's 120 Hymns for Wind Band to the section

Moving on to SATB choir, we have John Gardner's Carols and The Oxford Book of Descants, a collection of descants for hymns and carols.

For other instruments, Fanny Waterman's Piano Treasury Volume 1 (Volume 2 on the way), the new edition of Improve your Sight Reading Cello Grades 1-3, Guitar Basics Workouts (scales and arpeggios).

More new music in the works, stay tuned for details.

Monday, 10 September 2012

New Sheet Music this week, 10th September 2012

This week I'm starting with the new LCM piano handbooks for 2013-2017.  They're not all available yet, but the first five grades are available to order on the website in the piano exam materials section.

A few new publications are just out:

Hornscape, music for french horn or tenor horn and piano, a welcome addition to the somewhat thin repertoire for these instruments.

Stranger on the A Train, for trombone/euphonium bass clef or treble clef and also tuba bass clef or treble clef.

Sticking with the brass theme, here we have Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 2 arranged for brass tentet. And also Penny Lane for brass tentet.

If strings are your thing, Christmas Favourites for String Quartet is sure to interest - Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and more arranged for four players.

Lastly, new music for oboe - Philip Sparke's White Light, for oboe and piano.

More to come, new Christmas titles are on the way now...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 25th August 2012

It's still the summer season, with not much published yet but a few things have come out this week. Firstly we have 12 Jazz Duets for the advanced trumpet player.

Then there are a few new arrangements for Concert Band:

Circle of Life from The Lion King, for young players

Eyes Open from The Hunger Games for slightly older players

Happy Xmas (War is over), the well known tune by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Isn't She Lovely? by Stevie Wonder

I've also been catching up on the new Rockschool books which were published last month, they are all now on the website.

In addition, Trinity have now published their Rock & Pop Grade 6 books this week.

That's all for now, I'm sure there will be more next week.

Friday, 17 August 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 17th August 2012

It's been a while since my last post, there is a slight slowdown in new publications over the summer months but also new exam syllabi for various instruments which tends to create a lot of extra work.  Plus we had the olympics, so I have several good excuses for getting behind on the blog!

First, ABRSM has published the new syllabus for piano from 2013, so all the new exam books are now on the website.  The alternative pieces list runs to 100 items, some of which have been recycled from last time, but there are a number of new ones, most of which are now on the website.  A few are currently reprinting and after a mammoth 8 month wait for a syllabus book last time, I have left off any which are not immediately available.

In addition they have revamped the brass alternative pieces books and introduced a massive number of new pieces and studies.  ABRSM has also published a new series called 'Shining Brass', all of which are now on the website. As with the piano books, a few are either reprinting or not yet published so I will check them again in a month or so.

On with the other new books:

The Organists Collection from Kevin Mayhew
Organ Plus One - more books in this series for organ plus one other instrument
Organ Music for Communion from Barenreiter

Baila Negra- new latin american music for piano
Secret Love - the best piece from italian composer Giovanni Allevi
Bolero - Ravel's Bolero and other favourites for piano
 Pianoworks Duets 2 with CD

Early Start on the Double Bass - Sassmanhaus tutor for bass
Ladies in Lavender for cello
Concert Pieces for Cello from Sassmanhaus
Viola Time Starters - new edition with CD
Cello Time Starters - new edition with CD
Fiddle Time Starters - new edition with CD

Ladies in Lavender for clarinet
Popular Voiceworks 2 for choir

Good News
Due to the increasing strength of the pound against the euro, Barenreiter are reducing some of their prices.  This is a good thing, I haven't amended them all yet but it's on my list of things to do shortly.

Bad News
More costs due to regulation.  The government introduced new regulation back in 2010 to 'improve' the standards of online payment safety.  Reputable companies already had good systems, but apparently there's no system good enough that can't be 'improved' by government.  I did what I was obliged to do at the time, my systems are all encrypted to the highest standard in the industry anyway. But as is the way with all regulation designed to 'improve' things for the consumer, business ends up paying for it though many pass it back to the customer in the end.  My payment processor has now decided to charge me (in addition to the money it makes from every card transaction) an annual fee for me (not them) to fill in a questionnaire about my payment systems.  The questionnaire answers are the same as they were in 2010 (and they know what they are because they process my payments!), but now they've decided I have to do this pointless 5 minute questionnaire every year and charge me around £6 per minute for the privilege.  I have to suck up this additional cost.

However they have also decided to add a larger charge for additional work (done by a computer, not a human being) if I take payments over the phone.  I don't take many telephone payments, most people use the internet, and this additional charge means effectively I would be paying £1-2 per phone transaction on top of the regular fee.  I have therefore reluctantly decided to stop taking phone payments.  Most of my phone transactions are regular customers who I know, and I am happy to take cheques instead.

That's all for this week, I have more new music to add for next time.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

New this week, 8th July 2012

The biggest news this week is the publication of the new ABRSM syllabus for piano from 2013 to 2014.   This kind of event happens pretty much every summer with one of the publishers.  Why summer?   I could be cynical and suggest that it is an effort to boost sales at a time of year when they tend to be flat...

Whatever the reason, it entails a lot of work for retailers.  In addition to the new piano exam pieces books, they also specify a long list of alternative pieces.  While a few of these have been recycled from last time or are already on the website, a number are new to me.  In total there are 96 alternative pieces this time for grades 1-8.  96 is a large number to check and create if they are not already on the website!

Anway, all the pieces are now there, with the exception of a few which seem to be reprinting.  Last year one piece on the Trinity syllabus took 9 months to reprint, so I'm taking no chances this year and will only add them once I can actually get hold of them!

You can find most of them on this page.  I will be gradually getting them in stock over the summer, until then I will just order them as and when required.

Boosey & Hawkes has just published new editions of the Learn As You Play series, this time with CD.  So far we have clarinet, flute, oboe, saxophone, though I am sure other instruments are in preparation.  As I sell the last of the old ones, I am restocking with the new.

This week I have also added the LCM Handbooks for flute and more music for concert band, a section which is slowly getting bigger!

After the floods of two weeks ago, which found me wielding my trusty flood broom for three hours on a Friday night, we emerged unscathed from last Friday's torrential rain.  Hope you did too.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Sheet Music, 17th June 2012

It's been a while since I did a list of newly published music, so here's a quick run-down of the highights.

Easy Jazz Studies for flute with CD by Tillman Dehnhard.

A jazzy arrangement of the hymn Amazing Grace for choir, by Will Todd.

100 pieces for organ - The Organist's Treasury, published by Kevin Mayhew.

A new edition of West Side Story songs for voice, this time with singalong CD.

A new piano method for adults - The Classical Piano Method

Brand new music for harp - Puirt Ura, in three graded books.

For concert band, new music by Philip Sparke: A Nottingham Festival, Moving Heaven and Earth, and Sailing with the Tall Ships.  Also for concert band, Cherubini's Demophon Overture.

For brass band, Sparke's Marcho Brioso.

More to come this week, stay tuned!

Friday, 1 June 2012

New Music, 1st June 2012

It's been a while since I posted a list of new music, the last couple of weeks have been busy with all sorts of things.  Here is a list of the music new to the website:

Lots for organ: Hanke Suite for organ, Duddell Temporal Keys, Eben Lasst uns preisen,  Buxtehude Complete Works Vol 1 (Schott edition) and Krebs Selected organ works.

For SATB choir we have Panufnik's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Philip Lawson's Evermore, Judith Bingham's The Hidden Face of God and Ave Virgo Sanctissima .  Getting ready for Christmas (!) we have Bach's Choral Settings from the Christmas Oratorio.

For SSAA, Barenreiter have just published Vivaldi's Kyrie RV587 and Gloria RV589.

For orchestra, new editions of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op 56, Caldara's Stabat Mater and Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.

For concert band, we have the ever-popular Offenbach's Barcarolle from the Tales of Hoffman.

New music for single instruments: Beethoven's Piano & Cello Variations by Barenreiter, Sieber Vocalises (melodic studies) for trumpet with CD, Winner Scores All for Bassoon, and finally 100 Easy to Play Pops for Recorder.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, 11 May 2012

New Music This Week, 11 May 2012

A funny old week, this one.  Started on Sunday with a power cut, we've had torrential rain and yet another power cut for several hours last night.  So much so I'm surprised I'm still awake as every time they tried and failed to get a stable connection (several times, I lost count), all the alarms started up again, thus waking me up....  Fourth power cut in a couple of months, United Utilities really should change their name to United NO-Utilities.

Anyway, on with the new additions to the website.  It's been a bit of a flute week, it seems, so here's the list:

First Repertoire Pieces for Flute - another new edition from the popular series, with CD now available at £9.99. With all of these books, as the older ones sell out I am replacing them with the new editions.

Genzmer - Capriccio Notturno for Flute or Treble Recorder.

Old Macdonald Plays Flute - folk songs and nursery rhymes for young players, with playalong CD, £12.99.  

Putz Blue Waltz for Flute, in a single edition format at £3.50.  Another single edition is Mendelssohn's Wedding March, also £3.50.  And finally for single editions, Mozart's Andante KV315, same price.

From Schott, Schmitz Fairy Tale Suite, £12.99.

And finally for flute, 24 Progressive Studies by Taffanel & Gaubert, newly published for the first time outside their Methode Complete pour Flute.  Suitable for advanced players, £12.99.

Moving on to trumpet, we have Putz's Blue Waltz again, £3.50.  And the new edition of First Repertoire Pieces for Trumpet with CD, £9.99.  Whoops, almost wrote £999, that would be pricey!

And Theodorakis' Rhapsody for Trumpet, composed in 2008.  This one is pricey, at £33.50.

As with all new sheet music, I don't get them in stock straight away.  The sad fact is that I will never sell a copy of most of the new publications, others will take one to two years to catch on.  I know sometimes customers find it frustrating that music is a special order, but if I had a copy of everything ever published I would be bankrupt many times over!

I finally found time this week to make some major additions to band music.  I have added lots of bestselling titles to the wind (concert) band section.  I've also added to the brass section: Brass Quartet/Quintet, and Other Brass Ensembles.   I have another large batch of titles to add to the Brass Band section next week, so watch this space!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

New Sheet Music this week, 28 April 2012

Boosey & Hawkes have reissued the First Repertoire Pieces series of books, this time with CD.  I have added the alto sax, oboe and clarinet editions to the website, the remaining ones will appear next week.

Also with CD is Easy Jazz Studies for alto saxophone by Tilman Dehnhard.

Mendelssohn's Wedding March for oboe is available as a single edition.

Russian Masters for Piano contains a bumper collection of pieces by the major russian composers.

Piano to Go is a collection of very short, easy pieces in a crossover style, with classical and pop influences. Ideal for busy pianists.

I've also added a host of piano pieces by Tajcevic, Larcher, Kreisler, Rosenblatt, Genzmer, Duvernoy, Satie,  Scriabin, Beethoven, Chopin and Dvorak.

Waltzes is a collection of 48 - yes, you've guessed it - waltzes by major composers.

A new series from Hal Leonard is Favorite Classical Melodies, for various instruments with CD:

Great solo arrangements of beloved melodies from Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Gounod, Debussy, Handel, Rossini, Satie and more! Contains: Ave Maria • Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 • Caro Mio Ben • Clair de Lune • Funeral March of a Marionette • GymnopĂ©die No. 1 • Hallelujah Chorus • Hungarian Dance No. 5 • Minuet • Piano Sonata No. 14 (“Moonlight”) • Pomp and Circumstance • Symphony No. 5 • William Tell Overture.

Available for alto sax, cello, clarinet, french horn, flute, tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, viola and violin.

That's all for this week, lots more to come next week, may have to burn the midnight oil as I have a huge list of concert band pieces to add!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

New Postal Charges

Last month the big news was the increase in Royal Mail prices, which are effective from Monday next week.  Conscious that in these straitened times people want to keep as much money in their pockets as possible, I have tried to push my prices down.  I don't use ready-made envelopes but wrap most of my parcels by hand in brown packing paper, which is not only cheap - savings which are passed on to my customers - but also very protective of the contents.

For a year now I have offered free second class delivery on the website for everything, with a premium of £1.30 for first class.  While I know my customers really appreciate it, the new charges from Royal Mail are making a completely free delivery option unviable.  I can't stay in business if the postage cost is more than the profit I make on the product!

So I have undertaken a detailed cost analysis and come up with a new pricing structure.  Second class delivery will continue to be free for orders with a value of £7.00 or more.  Orders under that value will incur a charge of £0.40 for delivery.  I should point out that this is way less than the actual charge to me!

As a result of the economies I have made in my packing costs, I have managed to keep the increase in first class postage to just £0.10, rising from £1.30 to £1.40.  Again, this is less than the actual increase in the charge to me.  These small changes should allow me to continue to offer free delivery to most of my customers.

The biggest problem in the new Royal Mail structure is the abolition of gradated prices for small packets.  This means, for example, that a clarinet ligature which used to cost £1.33 to post second class will now cost £2.20. I have no choice but to build that massive increase into the price of products which fall into this category. Prices for ligatures, mouthpiece caps, rosins and other small but bulky items will rise, unfortunately.  Other items such as practice mutes (except double bass), reeds and valve oil can, with care, be packaged into large letter size so these will avoid the price rise.

I have been very loyal to Royal Mail, and particularly to my local post office but some of the eye-watering increases means that sheet music orders over 1 kilo will now most likely be despatched by courier, as instruments are currently.  I'm not in business to give all my profits to Royal Mail!

The changes will be implemented on the website at midday tomorrow, Friday 27 April, as orders placed after this time will be despatched on Monday.

Friday, 13 April 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 13th April 2012

This week, it's string music.  Firstly, a whole bunch of cello music:

Laks' Portrait de L'Oiseau-Qui-N'existe-Pas (Portrait of the Bird that Doesn't Exist)  and Cello Sonata
Mamlok: Rotations, composed in 2011
Wustinr: Musical Offering, premiered in 2010
Golijov: Mariel for cello and marimba
Carvelli: Serenata Napolitana from a largely unknown 19th century composer
Cirri: Sonata No 2 in G, Schott edition
Goltermann: Reverie
Theodorakis: East of the Aegean (is it me or have we had a lot of Greek-inspired music lately?)
Putz: Blue Waltz for cello and piano
Mendelssohn's Wedding March for cello
Goeyens Serenade
Gardel Tango
The Most Beautiful Folksongs for cello - arrangements of folksongs for 1 or 2 cellos, available with or without CD.

For double bass, we have Reinke's Thumb Position Exercises, for advanced players

And for violin (to be continued next week) we have:
Mamlok Designs
Ludwig Tango a Deux
Putz Blue Waltz for violin and piano
Faure Berceuse for violin with a piano reduction

That's it for this short working week, looking forward to getting back to normal next week.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A Good Concert, and New Sheet Music This Week 4th April 2012

It's not often I drag myself away from my computer, but I managed to do so this weekend to attend a concert at Blackburn Cathedral.  It was an evening devoted to John Ireland's music, in the 50th year since the composer's death.  It's a shame his music isn't more widely known, and most of the programme was new to me.  We had Epic March for organ, his Prelude in E flat Major for piano, Missa Brevis, and Elegiac Romance, which I am sure I have heard somewhere but didn't know it was his.

But the stars of the show were Vexilla Regis and A Downland Suite.  Vexilla Regis is a piece for SATB choir, organ and brass ensemble consisting of 2 trumpets and 3 trombones.  A beautiful piece of music, most unusual and very well performed though both I and my Other Half (himself a bass trombonist) agreed the bass trombone player needed to develop a touch more volume control, or, as OH put it in the northern vernacular, "be told to wind his neck in"!

The brass players were from Blackburn & Darwen Brass Band and they gave an excellent rendition of A Downland Suite.  I've heard a number of brass bands over the years and they are definitely one of the best quality.  A round, well-blended and harmonious sound, a masterclass in what a brass band should sound like.  The concert was finished in great style with a rousing rendition of "My Song is Love Unknown" by all singers/instrumentalists, which I have found myself humming regularly ever since!

I've now added Vexilla Regis to the website and will seek out the others if I can.

Anyway, on with new releases this week....

Trinity's Rock & Pop Grade 4 books are now available.

The Associated Board has published a new sight reading series Joining the Dots for Guitar, which contains five books for grades 1-5.

The Associated Board has also, finally (one year after the earlier books appeared) published the new edition of Aural Training in Practice Grades 6-8, with CDs.

Winwood Music has recently published a host of Walton pieces for brass, too many to list here but if you put "Walton" into the search engine and select the ones from the list with the white covers, you can browse the titles available.  Another English composer whose work doesn't get enough air time.

For choir (SSA) we have Bob Chilcott's Jazz Songs of Innocence.

For organ, Hymn Miniatures 2, short pieces for church services.

For music teachers, a new book by Paul Harris, The Virtuoso Teacher.

For the older beginner piano player, a new collection by Pam Wedgwood, It's Never Too Late to Play Rock 'n' Roll.

Faber has just published a new compilation book for singers, The Best of Singing, with books available for both high and low voice for grades 1-3 and 4-5.

For strings, we have Bags of Classics for violin and cello.

And finally, Edition Peters has published a series to help students with aural exams, called "Aural Test Survival".  Eight books, one for each grade.

That's it until after Easter, enjoy the holidays!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Musings on Life, The Universe and Raging Paranoia

Let me start by saying that by nature I'm an optimist, if you run a small business you have to be.  Doing battle with all the obstacles that face you, dealing with the vagaries of income and the unexpected means you have to be resilient.  But even I have my moments when I wonder if the Universe is against me.

I started this business a few years ago, and was growing well until 2010 when the recession hit, things took a bit of a dive but I bounced back, more efficient, finding new niches for my business.

Then last spring Google announced it was changing the goalposts and in order to have my products displayed on Google Shopping, every one would require at least two extra pieces of information attached to it.  My plans to spend the summer researching new products and features to add to my website fell apart and instead I spent 1-2 hours every day typing numbers and letters into a spreadsheet and uploading them to the website.  Still, job done and overall it has helped, with an improved ranking.  But at the same time some of my products, which happen to be the bestsellers I relied on, unaccountably disappeared.  I had restocked based on the previous year's sales, which dried up, despite my best efforts tinkering with my listings and comparing them to other retailers.  There are a few reasons for it, not just Google, but the changes have left me with stock  which will now take months to shift.  One of them magically reappeared recently, so maybe there is hope yet - there you are, that's the optimist in me popping up again.

As a small sheet music retailer, one of the biggest issues is the fact that the big publishers favour the big retailers, to the detriment of the small ones.  The biggest buyers tend to get the biggest discounts, which is understandable on a logical level but it sucks the lifeblood out of the smaller players.  Earlier this week I saw a sales rep for a publisher and as we finished chatting, I thanked him for cutting my profit margin when their discount rates were reduced last autumn.  He winced, clearly every small retailer he saw had said the same thing, and he made a quick exit! 

Here's an example of the problem.  The new Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus books have been out for a little while now.  I was puzzled as to why I had seen not only no sales, but not even any hits on the website for these products.  Now I know why.  I found Amazon selling them at a discount of 32% with free delivery!  The discount rate means the retail price is marginally above the price I pay trade, so with postage costs on top of that, I would make a stonking loss if I sold at that price.  So how many of these brand new shiny books do you think I will sell?  That's right, a big fat zero.

The effect of the graded discount structures is to subsidise the big players, making them bigger.  At the same time, the smaller retailers will never grow bigger (some won't even survive) because the odds are stacked against them.  This is short-sighted in the extreme as the suppliers reduce their customer base, putting more of their trade with the big players who will exert increasing influence.  So am I being paranoid in thinking the world is out to get me?

Then the Royal Mail announced its new prices and I sunk my head in my hands when I saw them, my naturally sunny disposition vanishing for a few hours.  Most of my post consists of letters and large letters of various weights, and with increases of 25-30% this is a major problem, particularly as I offer free delivery.  I'm doing an analysis of the costs, and haven't decided what to do yet, but absorbing these costs would mean making a loss.  On the other hand removing the free delivery entirely would mean losing sales.  So I suspect I will end up somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, with a lower qualifying level for free delivery.

But the Royal Mail madness doesn't end there, with increases of 30% for the bulk of my post.  Take this clarinet ligature, for example.  They need replacing from time to time; the kids stand on them, the dog chews them, and so on. This ligature weighs 60 grams, it needs to be sent in a box with plenty of packing to prevent damage, so it is of a size to be a small packet rather than a large letter.  There are currently four bands for small packets up to 750g, and my ligature falls into the first, with a second class post cost to me of £1.33.  I charge £1.40 postage to my customers, which, though I say it myself, is remarkably good value.  Under the new prices, Royal Mail has removed the bandings and lumped all the small packets up to 750g in weight together.  This clarinet ligature will now cost me £2.20 to post, an increase of around 65%.  Almost all my small packets fall into the same bracket.

This particular change has caused massive outrage across many different retailers; many of us make money on small, light packages which are just too large for Large Letter prices.  Take this Hidersine Junior Rosin for example, it's just on the border of large letter/small packet size and with wrapping paper and invoice often tips into packet size.  I sell it at £2.15, the new postage charge is more than the product!  Ebay forums were full of people selling all sorts of things who will be affected badly by this change, some of us are wondering whether we can continue to sell these products at all, would anyone pay these inflated postal prices?  Maybe we can package multiples or assemble multipacks of different products, but we will all have to consider it carefully.

Will these increases make more money for Royal Mail?  My gut feel is not as much as they expect. Small packets will plummet in number as sellers drop too-expensive-to-post items or sell multiples in one package instead.  The increases in prices for parcels over 1kg will push more parcels out to couriers, and the new overseas prices will collapse the overseas market.  I'm at the point in my business where I'm profitable, growing well and then another obstacle is dumped in my way.  I now have to spend valuable time doing another analysis of postage costs and make decisions about whether to drop some products entirely.

Am I being paranoid?  Is it just me or is there a regular cycle of attempts to make life as difficult as possible for small businesses?  I haven't even mentioned the Cookie regulations (still to be settled) affecting internet retailers, the outrageous carriage charges by some suppliers for small orders, I could go on.  The Universe isn't really out to get me, is it?  Is it?

Friday, 23 March 2012

New This Week, 23 March 2012

Let's start this week's round up with a question.  What is this gizmo? Any ideas?

If you're a brass player you might know.  Got it yet?

It's a water key spring for small brass instruments, more specifically a Yamaha one.  I try to add new products to my range regularly, but often my best ones come from customer requests (many thanks to Steve), and this is one of those. So I now have some in stock, should you be in need of one.

On to this week's sheet music.  As well as digging out some old stock and putting it in the Bargain Box on my website and on Ebay (seller vsmusic2010) I've added a pile of recent publications.  Loads more to do (Winwood, please note, I will get to yours next week!), but here's this week full list.

Boosey & Hawkes has just publisher a host of choral music:

Moving to violin, we have a new edition of Fiocco's Allegro and Seitz Student Concerto in D, both by Barenreiter.  Also by Barenreiter, Rieding's Marcia Op 44 and Rondo Op 22 no 3.  New from Theodore Presser, In Memory of Milton.

For viola, a new Henle edition of the viola sonata in C minor, and West Side Story Playalong.

For flute, we have Samuel Adler's A Bonnie Tune, and West Side Story Playalong.

Mendelssohn's Clarinet sonata in E flat is now available in Henle Edition.

A welcome addition to the bass trombone repertoire, Samuel Adler's Bravura.

For singers, there is All Time Great Duets, with CD so you can sing along with a recorded partner or a real live one!

For guitar, Fingerpicking Irish Songs, favourite Irish tunes in guitar tab.  For classical guitar, try Italian Songs, 22 italian songs from O sole mio to the national anthem in notes and tab.

For piano, Henle has published a new edition of Ravel's Sonatine, and Satie's Gymnopedies.  And for piano duet, the excellent Mike McCornick has a new publication, Pink Panther for Two with CD, so you can play a duet by yourself!

For concert band, the Dutch Test Piece The Essence of Youth is now published.  And finally, the unforgettable song "Forget You", sung by Cee Lo Green, is now available in an arrangement for concert band.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

New Sheet Music This Week, 13th March 2012

Be honest, the tuba isn't one of your favourite solo instruments, is it?  Generally confined to playing oompah in the back row, there is a real lack of good music for the instrument.  So here is a new publication, called Let's Play Tuba, with tunes and a playalong CD, long overdue I think.  The nice thing is they've published three versions: C Tuba, E flat Bass (TC and BC) and B flat Bass (TC and BC).  They're on my stock list for my next order.
Trinity Rock & Pop have just published their Grade 3 books across all the instruments, and you can now apply for the exams.

Trinity have also published the 2011 theory papers

For teachers, Kodaly's Principles in Practice has just been published, containing notes and observations of his teaching methods.

Barenreiter has been busy working on new urtext editions of Schumann's Forest Scenes,  Scenes from Childhood, and Moments Musicaux and Schubert's Impromptus.

Van der Roost's Ballad for Bass Trombone, first performed in 2009, has now been published with piano reduction.

While this is not classic wedding material, I Want to Break Free for String Quartet might be suitable for a couple with a good sense of humour!

For Concert Band, we have Mykonos, A Little Irish Suite,  and I'm planning on adding more concert band music as soon as I can.

For brass ensembles, we have some new publications from Winwood: Lupo's Fantasia, Coperario's Fantasia,  Ferrasbosco's Fantasia and In Nomine, and finally another In Nomine by Gibbons.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

New This Week, 23rd February 2012

I know I normally start with new music, but thought this week I'd start with a new product for the shop.  I do rely on customers to help get the products people want - if you ask, I'll get if I can - and last week a customer came to me with a problem.  The ligature she had bought didn't fit, it turned out that she had recently bought a new mouthpiece for her daughter which was shaped differently to the standard one.  So I had a chat with my supplier and we suggested this Rovner Star Series 1RL would do the job.  It's flexible enough to adapt to the mouthpiece which is shorter than the standard one.  Rovner ligatures can be pricey, but this is good value at £13.99.

So, on with the new music, in no particular order.

Discovering Rock Violin with CD - a tutor for a variety of rock violin techniques

Come Fly with Me - the famous tune set for grade 3 standard concert band

Hey Jude - the Beatles tune set for grade 2 concert band

Lip Slurs for French Horn - progressive exercises for horn

Alfred has published a revised edition of the Ultimate Beginner series, a "mega pak" consisting of book, CD and DVD to cover all the basics:
Acoustic Guitar
Blues Guitar
Electric Guitar
Rock Guitar
At £22.99, these packs are sure to keep the beginner going for quite some time!

Several new study scores: Gabrieli's In Excelsiis, Telemann's oboe concerto in F minor, Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine, and Pachelbel's Canon e Gigue for three violins and basso continuo.

For four recorders (Descant, 2 trebles and tenor) we have Frescobald's Canzona.

Following the success of his Ten International Cello Encores, Aaron Minsky has now published a similar volume - Ten International Violin Encores.

Finally, for piano we have Dvorak's Mazurka Op 56 No 4 in D Minor.

That's all for this week, have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

New Music This Week, 14th February 2012

This week I've been catching up on recent publications and trying to work through the long list of music which is lying around either on my computer or in a pile of paper notifications by the desk.  Still a long way to go, but I have made good progress!

Starting with piano, we have Goodbye Lenin by Yann Tiersen, The Secret Piano by Alexis Ffrench, Classical Piano Anthology Vol 2, Movie Classics 2 with CD and a revised edition of Microjazz for Absolute Beginners with CD.

For piano duet we have Gurlitt Hours of Rest and Latin for Two.

A new series - From Bach to Ravel - from De Haske covers alto sax, clarinet, oboe and flute, and contains well known pieces arranged for the instruments with CD.  Piano accompaniment separate.

Not to be outdone, Boosey & Hawkes have published a new series - West Side Story Playalong.  Some supply problems for a couple of the instruments, the ones available now are on the website.

A new title in the Jazz Ballads series, this time for flute.  Also for flute, Brass Wind has just published a version for flute in its popular series Winner Scores All (a version with CD will shortly arrive too).  And for treble recorder we have Baroque Recorder Anthology Vol 4.

For two guitars we have Guitar Dance Collection.

Leonard Bernstein's Broadway musical Peter Pan is now available for voice and piano.  Sticking with the American theme, 15 Art Songs for Low Voice is also out.

For choir, we have Kaleidoscope, the latest in the Boosey & Hawkes Concerts for Choirs series, for SSA.  And a new collection of Christopher Norton arrangements, In The Need of Prayer.

That's it for this week, will see how far I can get in my pile of new music before next week!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New Music this Week, 07 February 2012

As this is Diamond Jubilee week, I thought I'd start off with the National Anthem.  If you're planning a musical event for the Diamond Jubilee, then this is what you need for your orchestra, and at a great price of £9.99!

I've been catching up on new music published recently and which I've not had time to load.  Here's a quick round-up:

Flute Globetrotters - music for flute with CD

New editions of Fiddle Time Scales 1, Fiddle Time Scales 2, and Viola Time Scales, adjusted to match the recent ABRSM syllabus changes.  OUP have also published a new book in the series - Cello Time Scales.

Play Vienna - De Haske are trying to cash in on the craze for Viennese music with this collection for accordion, violin, trumpet, clarinet, flute, horn, alto sax, cello, piano and trombone.  Some great tunes, with playalong CD.

A new opera - Wagner Dream is a contemporary addition to operatic repertoire.  Copland's Four Motets for SATB is also out now.

For advanced pianists, the Boosey & Hawkes Piano Anthology is a great buy.

Sticking with the piano, Haydn's piano sonata in C and three of Bach's Two Part Inventions are newly published by Wiener Urtext.  And if you need more encouragement to practice, the Great Book of Studies will ensure your technique is perfect!

For young string players, Octotunes is a collection of easy tunes for beginner string ensembles.

That's it for this week, hope you have escaped the snow and ice this week!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

New Music 31st January 2012

Trinity Guildhall have just published their first tranche of the new Rock & Pop books, along with the syllabus for these new exams.  Interesting new approach to music making, with improvisation and imitation skills more prominent than in other exams.  I'm sure these will develop over time, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

Most of the books up to grade 2 are now available (drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals).  Trinity still haven't mastered the logistics of having all the books ready at the same time, which is slightly frustrating, but they are much improved on the old days, thankfully.  Still waiting for grade 1 drums, and keyboards grade 1 & 2.  I haven't got them in stock yet, will do so in the next few weeks.

Another new series which I have finally added to the website is the Super Duet series for flute, clarinet, alto sax, oboe, french horn, trombone and trumpet by Anglo Music.  The most recent of them is the Trombone Treble Clef.  They're all available to order via the website, just put "Super Duet" into the seach engine.

Other new music - Hartbeat for flute by Paul Hart.  A mixture of familiar tunes arranged for flute along with new compositions, this is a nice collection, published by Brass Wind.

Other highlights - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is in the oscar nominations, and handily Alberto Iglesias' selections from the soundtrack for piano has just been published.

These are the highlights for January, there are more, and I generally post them on Twitter and Facebook as I do them, so do sign up for instant updates.

One of the difficulties being a sheet music retailer is what to keep in stock.  Some people think that you keep everything on the website in stock, ready for despatch.  Well, I hate to break it to you but nobody in the business does that, or we would all be bankrupt!  So we have to pick and choose.  New music can take a year or more to catch on, some never does.  A few years ago I bought a lot of stock because I thought it would be big, and it turned out to be a turkey.  It's still sitting there, reminding me of my mistake.  Some stuff doesn't sell because big retailers like Amazon and WH Smith undercut the specialist music seller, so you don't keep much of that in either.  I tend to focus on niche music and accessories and if I sell more than two copies a year, I keep it in stock.  With even Amazon and Musicroom cutting back to keep cash from getting tied up on shelves, we all have to be careful with our money.  Happily, most suppliers can deliver extra stock  within a few days so customers don't have to wait too long for special order music.

That's it for now, hope to have a more regular update from now on.