Toot Your Horn

What a great prompt for a music teacher, especially one who teaches the saxophone! I of course like to think that music in general is what I excel at. I think I’m a good sax player and pianist and I hope that my students get as much from their lessons ass I do teaching them.

I wonder sometimes though, if anyone else finds they tend to go a bit over board on what they excel at? Take the other day, a new student called and mentioned that he was buying a sax. I was immediately intrigued asking what he planned to get and happily sharing expertise on which saxes play well and which, in my opinion don’t. Before I knew it I’d been on the phone forty five minutes and hadn’t got around to booking a lesson time. Fortunately my new student didn’t show any signs of being worried and I hope found the discussion helpful. I was rewarded a few days later when he called again for more information.

So maybe besides the playing and teaching I can add ‘useful opinions regarding saxophones’ to my list of musical things I excel at. Of course it could just be that I excel at talking…

What’s in a name?

Name’s are very important things. I have spoken before about the amount of head scratching that went on whilst naming Storm Dynamics (it was rather a lot.) but what if you have a product up and running already that you want to re-brand?

Re-branding sounds like quite a big deal. Probably because it is. You are changing the public identity of something you have worked hard to promote thus far. It’s not something to be undertaken lightly. So what happens when you want to subtly suggest to a fire d that they should re-brand their company? You take them to Nando’s, of course.

It sounds a bit clandestine when put like that:
“Hey Scott, how do you fancy a meal at Nando’s? I know it’s your favourite. Oh and whilst we’re there I’m going to let my other half try and convince you to change the name of the disco we run… And the logo… And the website… And do more business cards and new flyers.”

I have to admit it wasn’t something that occurred to be before. I thought LightBeat was a good name for the disco as we did amazing lights and all the beats. It does what it says on the tin. But when neither Scott or I had considered was that it didn’t. In the advertising world the word light has been overtaken by ‘lite.’ When read aloud all people hear is a kind of diet version of a disco or worse a disco that specialises in Nora Jones type music. Who wants to book an elevator music disco for their wedding reception? No one does, which is why all our business has previously been referral.

Once explained to Scott he agreed and then the thinking caps came out. It had to be something Scott liked, he didn’t want it to be about himself, he didn’t want more than two words and if possible not even the word disco for fear of people hearing YMCA instead of David Guetta.

He came up with ‘Experience’ one word for a whole lot of things. Officially Experience Disco and Light Show with the tag Unique Disco, Ultimate Entertainment.

We set up a website Experiencedls.co.uk and a Facebook page and so far so good. We’re even booked for a Wedding Fair at the Princes Hall in Aldershot on Sunday 27th Jan.

I’d be interested to know people’s opinions on the name and the rebranding scheme. All comments welcome.

Resolved

The one word my other half uses most often to describe me is ambitious. I have big ideas and I always have a plan to set them in motion.

Storm Dynamics was one such idea, though this one was years in the making. I love music and have a knack for writing it. It turns out that I also have a knack for teaching people music so my family thought that my career was all set out. I would be a school music teacher. What’s not to like, I get to do what I love and get job security and good further career options. There was only one problem; I hate being around people who don’t want to learn. School music lessons we sheer torture for me as, not only did I already know the standard Key Stage bits and pieces but the vast majority of my class mates saw music as a ‘doss’ lesson and had no intention of learning. Whilst I was at Collingwood College this wasn’t too much of a problem as our teachers there had devised a system of keeping us instrumental learners challenged. Grammar School, however, was completely different. Despite having a class of only 8 students our teacher did his utmost to make classes routine and dull – that was if he turned up, his duties as Head of Lower School kept him very busy. He’d say the same thing to me every day: “Oh, Jo, you play piano and what else again?” I was first study saxophone, grade 8. I was also the only saxophonist in the entire school and the only grade 8, maybe I’m being egocentric but I’d have thought that would make me memorable. Two years under the tutelage of this man and I knew that if there was the slightest possibility of turning into anything remotely like him then I had to stay away.

So I resolved.

I was going to teach instruments, not classroom music. That way I could work with individuals who actually want to learn their instruments and I would get to work at creating music (particularly appealing at the time as I hadn’t developed my love of music theory yet.) So I began giving private instrumental lessons and that’s what brings me to last year’s resolution, which I kept.

I had two resolutions last year. The first was to try online dating and the second was to grow my client base. The first was easy to keep, I signed up to eHarmony and much to my surprise met Russell as my first match and we’ve now been together for nearly a year. The second was harder as I first had to learn some business acumen. Luckily for me that is something Russell has in abundance and he started pointing me in the right direction.

The first thing is to brand yourself and the easiest way to search out competition is to plug all your ideas into google and see if anyone else has thought of them first. Have you ever tried to come up with an original title using a musical term? If not try it now because I swear everything we thought of has already been captured by someone else. After three days (yes really) of both of us trying we found that there were very few companies using the word dynamics. So we put that into Facebook and twitter and anything else we could think of and it stayed, reasonably, free.

We now had a name: Storm Dynamics. Storm because it’s eye catching and Dynamics because it’s musical. Next came the logo, which was outsourced and after that the assault on social media and local advertising.

Six months later Storm Dynamics had tripled in size and I am now officially the Managing Director of my own company. Not bad for one resolution.

Gove: Tutors should be able to touch music pupils

Thank God someone has the sense to speak out about this.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully support children’s rights and welfare but there comes a time when parents need to be taken by the shoulders and given a good shake.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12137318

For a music teacher to be told they aren’t allowed to touch a child is like trying to teach a child math’s without talking.  Instruments are physical creations it takes your entire body to play one correctly.  Sometime you have to move a students hands into the right position or draw attention to raised shoulders or or or the list goes on.

Next we’ll all have to wear face masks incase we breathe germs onto them in our small practice room.  Oh no… I’ve just given someone an idea…

 

Hello world!

Hello World!

The idea of the blog is simple.  Everytime I find something interesting to musicians that will help them with their playing I will post it here.