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

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

 

Altissimo – Not for the faint hearted

Its loud, screechy and bloody hard to do.  It will take hours of practice until you feel like your back to the days when you first started to learn to play the sax – you remember those days right?  When the cat refused to come home and the dog wailed constantly.

You can buy any number of books telling you how to perfect this skill.  There are thousands of webpages dedicated to it.

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-altissimo.html is a good one to get you started.

Every article I have come across has four main points to it.

  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Strengthen your embouchure
  • Learn the fingerings
  • Hear the notes you want to play
I first came across this last point at a masterclass by Snake Davis.  He advocates a teaching game which increases your awareness of what you’re actually playing and develops your ear tonally.  It’s surprisingly simple as well.  All you have to do it sing something random then try to play it on the sax.  Easy right? Well, yes if you have perfect pitch but just getting the notes right is not the point of the game.  You have to get the intonation right, you have to duplicate the way the notes bend or slurr and you have to play with real feeling.
So, how does that help with altissimo? Once you can hear the note you want to play in your mind you will have a much more stable bench mark than the usual woolly “I’d like it to be high” that we all start with.  So they say.  I play sax professionally and I still struggle with this, I have a real mental block over it.  So, I’m going to stop writing now and go practice.

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.

 

The Job Race for Musicians

There is nothing worse than moving moving to somewhere completely new.  I’ve done a lot of moving in my time and the worst part is always beginning the network game from scratch.  You have to get luck and meet the right people at the right time with the right skills.  It’s very difficult.

When I moved out to Cape Town I found the game to be more of a challenge than normal.  They don’t really believe in the internet over there and there are no County Services or other overall governing music bodies.  So moving to England should be a snap.

I’m not long into the race but I thought I’d share some of the sites I’ve found so far that have opportunities for Musicians in England.

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

Is an obvious place to start.  You can sign up for free and create a basic musicians profile.  You then have the option of upgrading your membership to their premium package.  It gives you a great idea of what is out there but you have to upgrade to the premium packages (£10 a month) to be able to apply for anything.

Its a similar story with sites like www.starnow.co.uk and http://www.creativejobscentral.co.uk. The difference between the two is that Creative Jobs Central wont even let you look round the website if you haven’t paid their fee.

www.musicalchairs.info has a fantastic range of job categorised by instrument and its completely free to use.  The only problem is that I have yet to find a posting in the UK.

One brilliant website is www.cv-library.co.uk. Its completely free to use and the range of musician job they have is brilliant. There is also the bonus of creating a profile and perhaps getting head-hunted for the job you desire.

The other websites are the ones that take time to go through.  There are the sites like gumtree, guardian-jobs, job-rapido, fish4jobs, the list goes on an on.  If you are a music teacher these sites are brilliant, if not then try websites such as www.sax.co.uk and look at the notice boards.

If I’ve missed anything that needs a mention do leave me a comment and let me know.