Quick Lessons – Don’t Be Good, Be Lucky

It’s the most obvious part of being a gigging musician, especially if you’re a soloist.

ALWAYS SIGN A CONTRACT!

Whilst I was in Africa I set up my own solo act. I’ve been doing it for three years and I have always drawn up my own contract. If the client doesn’t sign it, then there’s no sax at their wedding. So how did I manage to forget that this time?

Now it looks like the gig will be cancelled, meaning hours of practice and music hunting have gone to waste. I cannot emphasise just how much I was kicking myself. Until I got a little email from my client.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience.  We will, of course, forward you a cancellation fee of 50%”

It helps to be good at what you do. It also helps to be a jammy little bugger.

 

So, take my advice, and remember that contract!

Today’s Musicians have to be Computer Nerds

I don’t consider myself to be computer illiterate; also I don’t consider myself to be a computer nerd. Recently I brought myself a new laptop. I installed Office, Sibelius, ITunes and all the other software I need with no help. I regularly create CD’s for my bands and students to use to learn from, so I am familiar with burning programmes. So why the hell can’t I get my own sample tracks to work?

I saved them to a multi-use CD off the old dinosaur laptop, thinking I could then simply add them to the new pc. Nope. They have converted to Audio CD Files and nothing wants to admit they exist or play them.  When I go on the net to convert them the downloadable converters don’t want to know as it’s a multi-use cd and the online converters all insist they don’t support that type of file.

This leaves me stuck.

It also got me thinking. Since when did I have to understand formatting in order to pick up a gig? I can’t imagine Mozart (or more likely one of his scribes) saying: “oh hang on a moment; this is written on the wrong type of paper, therefore I can’t go any further.” But, because my file is in the wrong format that is exactly what has happened to me.

Hopefully someone will read this post, think I’m a computer moron, and provide an answer. If you’re out there, please do that. If it reduces me to the rank of computer idiot, that’s fine. Usually I don’t need a pc in order to blow down a saxophone.

MusicConnex

This is a quick post with a very important link

http://uk.music-jobs.com/blog/

If, for whatever reason, the link doesn’t take you to the UK Music Jobs blog about the MusicConnex event this link will.

http://www.musicconnex.co.uk/

The events is designed to help self employed musicians connect with other musicians and use social networking to its best advantage.

Tuesday 19th – Thursday 21st April

Kings Place

London

BUT

Tickets start at £199.00 each

(No you didn’t read that wrong.)

Prelude to ‘An Evening with Snake Davis.’

I can stress enough how happy I am to be back in England.  Barely five minutes in the country and one of my favourite sax players is hosting a ridiculously cheap master-class.  It’s on Wednesday 30th March at The Spice of Life, Cambridge Circus, London.

 

Here are some of the subjects he will be covering:

  • How to form an individual sound.

 

  • How to achieve more expression, better sound, more control, more dynamics, better intonation.

 

  • An in-depth look at vibrato.

 

  • Adopting a less jazz and more pop/rock approach to the short solo.

 

But best of all is the open Q&A, so you’ll literally have the chance to ask him anything you want!

 

What more could you ask for for £5?

Here’s the link

http://www.sax.co.uk/snakemasterclass.html

What to do with my Baritone Sax – Part 2

The saga of the baritone sax gets worse.  Yesterday was my last day teaching Michael and I can honestly say that there are very few kids who are as much fun to teach as this boy.  So, naturally, I wanted to do something special for his last lesson.

I decided to bring my soprano, alto, tenor and bari to his lesson so he could have a go on each of them and generally have fun.  Unfortunately, when I opened the bari sax case the bloody zip broke in my hand! So now it has a broken handle and won’t close at all.  At least the wheels still work.

So what now? It still has to fly to England in that useless thing.  I don’t have time, or funds to get it repaired or to buy it a new one.  And lets face it I’m in South Africa, the music shops here don’t tend to stock baritone saxophone flight cases anyway. (If they did there would probably be a 100% mark up on it like there are on the high end alto saxes in some places.)

All I can think now is to bind the thing with luggage straps, take out all the extras (mouthpiece etc) put it in boxes and put in as much packing as possible. Then pray.

What to do with my Baritone Sax?

I’m taking the advice of a friend and have decided to put this blog to good use by chronicling my exploits as I move my entire life – and musical career – back to England.  However, I will still be writing about anything interesting that musicians need to know about.

 

As we stand at the moment there is a week to go.  I have packed about 90% of my things and now I’m trying to work out the best way of getting my baritone sax to survive the 11 hour flight.  The problem is that it’s case is shoddy.  It couldn’t even survive a week in Graham’s Town without the one of the zips breaking and a handle falling off. Unfortunately I haven’t a hope of buying it a flight case in the nest few years never mind before I go.

 

On my last trip back to England I wrapped my tenor sax case in foam and found that to work very well.  Of course that was a Hiscox case, which is something my Bari doesn’t have.  I was thinking of creating a box for the case out of sturdy cardboard and filling that with packing material.  Perhaps that, along with the word FRAGILE in BIG letters might be enough to keep it safe.  On the other hand is it really worth the risk?

Where in the world do you go if you are a musician?

I’ve come to the conclusion recently that the adage ‘the grass is always greener’ is totally inescapable.  No matter where you go or what you do there is always something better just over the horizon.  There is always someone better than you as a player and always a better venue you could have picked.

So where is the best place in the world to live if you are a musician?  I suppose it depend on what kind of musician you are.  If you are a didgeridoo player then you might not find a lot of work in New Orleans. Or if you are a serious classical musician then Lincolnshire is probably not the county for you to live in.

But what if you don’t know?  Is there a way to pick when you can’t honestly say what kind of a musician you are?  My current theory is that if you don’t know take to a Big City where you can have a go at everything until you’re sure. (Or if you’re a student go to uni.)  The only problem with that is that it will take you longer to build a reputation.  Actually, thinking about it, maybe its better that a lot of people know you a little bit rather than having a few people know you well.  Take my cousin’s death metal band, in the death metal circles they are very well known and in Switzerland there are adored, but elsewhere in the world they’re completely unknown.

Is there a perfect town, city or area to live in if you are a musician? I’d seriously like to know.  Just what is it that you as a musician are looking for in a city? And what are the things you hate to see?

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