32 Flavors

It seems to me that in this day and age everyone wants something a little bit different from the norm.  Just having the choice of vanilla or chocolate isn’t enough and if you were to pick one of these simple flavours you might be tagged as boring.

The same goes for more than just food though. How many times have we heard kids screaming for an iPad white, because, like, everyone has the original one. Even simple things like admiring a friend’s shoes end in you buying them in a different colour, because it just isn’t done to be the same.

But what if you have a product that is better than your average bear? How do you go about promoting it to the masses? After all it should be obvious that what you have is superior to the competition, but unless you have the gift of the gab then no one will know about it.

That’s what has been happening to my best friend. Scott runs LightBeat Laser Disco which is a disco with a difference. The light show is all lasers; he has some of the most up to date lasers in the country and can create stunning effects on a budget that any party host can afford. He really believes in giving his clients the absolute best and so goes the extra mile for clarity of sound and atmospheric lighting for their events.

Don’t believe me? You can check it out at:

www.lightbeat.weebly.com

Standard laser setup

Standard laser setup

Locked in a room with something I fear

The daily prompt today is to describe what would happen if you were locked in a room with your worst fear.  At the moment that would be spending another three hours trying to decipher computer code to make my website more visible on Google.

Having noticed that the website for my music school doesn’t appear on many of the relevant searches I thought I should try and do something about it. I suppose the smart approach would have been to talk to someone who actually knows about these things but that’s not for me. I bought a book and it’s called Get to No.1 on Google by Ben Norman. Catchy title; it appears to say it can do just what I’m looking for.

I think it’s been thought out very well. So far there have been many handy screen-shots to show you what your computer should be doing and it goes about describing a lot of the free software included in Google Webmaster, which is very useful. It’s applying that knowledge that I’m finding hard.

For instance once you log onto Google Webmaster it asks you to verify your website by planting a bit of code onto your home page… Ok but where exactly? In the title box, the main text, the side bar the menu? I tried them all and all failed the verification test.  The book doesn’t explain this (or if it does then I haven’t reached that page yet) fortunately Google itself offers other solutions. The first was this piece of code and the second is creating a sub-domain through your host. Lost yet? I was, thank God for step by step. Until, that is you get to the last step when you get the red error message of doom and suddenly it won’t work after all.

Their other suggestion is to include a Meta Tag in the html code under the header but before the body, I think. But there are no instructions on how to do this either. By process of random clicking I found a box in my settings menu that said you could input things in html. It didn’t say where but I gave it a go anyway and HURRAY it works!

Storm Dynamics has now been verified on Google through its Meta Tag. I have no idea what this is or what it does but I’m very pleased with myself for managing to do it.

Any ideas what the next step is?

Links to free score downloads

I’ve spent the morning looking for free downloads and found some stuff I thought I would share. I should add that I have been looking for simple piano scores to popular songs rather than classical piano.  There are some fantastic free sites out there for piano music http://www.freesheetmusic.net been a good place to start.

Sites like the following promise a lot but are either hideously complicated, broken, or not what they advertise.

http://www.sheetmusicengine.com

www.8notes.com  – this site is just confusing. If you go in through the main web page and follow the free links you can access a limited number of free gif files. However, if you follow a google link for a specific song, you’ll end up playing for it.

http://www.free-scores.com – This one goes under the ‘hideously complicated’ heading. There seems to be a lot of content but finding something useful is very difficult.

My most useful site for popular music has been http://www.pianofiles.com/ The listing here isn’t huge but it is varied and comprehensive.

Just as an aside there is a fantasic(ish) blog called http://truepianotranscriptions.blogspot.com/ It contains full transcriptions of possibly many piano pieces. However, there is no index of blogs, no blogger info, no list of pieces. It’s like an idea almost realised.

But by far the most useful overall has been:

http://www.free-midi.org

There are hundreds of free Midi sites out there. True, you do need a MIDI player. I have been opening the files in Sibelius which instantly creates you a full score.

 

Obviously I’m not the only one to have this idea so here is a selection of other bloggers who have made lists of free sheet music sites:

http://truepianotranscriptions.blogspot.com/ – A blogger who started played in Januray 2010

http://thepianostudent.wordpress.com  – A brilliant resource directory

http://worship1.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/tough-times-small-budget/ – Links to a website for free Gospel sheet music

 

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.

Free Jazz Lessons

We all know that the best way to learn a musical discipline is to have a tutor.  You learn at your own pace, the lessons are tailored to you and having to play in front of a tutor each week is a fantastic practice incentive.  Unfortunately though, tutors cost money and we don’t always have it to spare.

 

I have searched for a long time for a website that will offer free lessons in music theory.  Usually what I find is basic (Wikipedia for example) and often difficult to apply to the real world.  Today, however, I found one that I just had to share.

 

http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/primer

 

It looks dry and uninviting and like you have to pay to download it.  But be patient, scroll down and you will find some of the best free advice on jazz theory (including implementation) that I have ever come across.  There is everything here from a history of jazz to an explanation of scales and chords (which you can find anywhere but not usually this well done) though to applying theory to practice in improvisation and problem solving whilst accompanying other musicians.

 

Other good resource I found was www.jazzdatabase.com

I like the idea of this website; you write an article and post it here for free.  So the idea is you enjoy all the free advice and contribute as well.  Unfortunately there aren’t many contributors but that doesn’t mean some of the links aren’t fab.

 

For instance if you follow the menu to Jazz Theory then Miscellaneous you will be able to download a PDF by Bert Lion which is a great read if you are a theory nerd (like me.)  It also has a link to his website where you can download – for free – a whole range of transcriptions. Some even come with annotations to give you a batter idea of what is going on.

 

Staying with the jazz database website if you click on Transcriptions then Saxophone you will be also to follow a link to the www.saxsolos.com website.  Music here is not free to download but you can stream backtracks. You can then download the relevant PDF from the jazz database.

 

Now you have a great practice aid for free and a fantastic website explaining what you need to be working on.

 

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

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