Saturday, February 25, 2017

Band Instrument Repair - FLUTES

So you want to be a flute player. Well the best way to get the maximum results out of your learning and playing, is to keep the flute well maintained. I am a band instrument repair tech and I can tell you that some of the instruments I see are in pretty bad shape.

Drawing of a flute.
Drawing of a flute. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dents, dents and more dents. Flutes are a fairly sturdy instrument but the should not be used for play sword fighting or propping doors open or jamming in doors! I have taken a lot of dents out of flutes and straightened them out so their keys will fit over the holes again. However, dent removal is quite expensive and time consuming.

The head joint should be kept in good shape. The head joint tenon needs to be kept clean and free from dents and dirt so it will keep a good seal when fitted into the body. The head cork should be changed yearly to insure a tight seal also. This will insure the flute plays in key. The crown should fit snug but able to be used to adjust the head cork up and down for tuning purposes. Also, the lip plate needs to be kept in good shape and free from dents as well as cleaned very frequently. After all, this is where you put your mouth to play the flute.

A word on cleanliness of the head joint. In these times of Swine flu and contagious viruses and germs it is vital that you keep the mouthpiece clean. I use a spray 9 and isopropanol alcohol combination to insure the head joint is clean both before and after I play test an instrument I'm working on. I suggest you carry 2 small spray bottles with your instrument and keep it clean and sanitized at all times.

Next we talk about the body of the flute.

Friday, February 24, 2017

3 Steps to Increase Your Level of DRUMMING

Dance band drummer at Mark Foy's Empress Ballr...
Dance band drummer at
Mark Foy's Empress Ballroom, 1935
(Photo credit: 
There are many ways to increase the quality of your drumming and they can all be summarized into these 3 vital steps...

1. Develop Confidence
Many wanna-be musicians will choose the drums because they are shy and want to remain in the background (that's where I was when I started drumming back in 1976).

The truth is your body may be in the background, but your musical presence will definitely be noticed!

If you are going to be the drummer in a band, then you will be the anchor of the band. The other musicians will be relying on you to provide strong beats that will keep everything together. Everything you do behind your drum set will not only be heard, but felt, simply because you will be the all-important time keeper.

This notion of wanting to be a drummer so you can hide behind a drum set is ridiculous. You're gonna hide from no one! That's why it is imperitive to develop confidence in your drumming, and the first way to do that is to forget about the notion that you are hidden. Your mind set should be to establish your place in the band. Know who you are and why you're there. The rest will then fall into place.

2. Love Your Instrument
If any musician really wants to master their instrument they must absolutely love it. What do I mean "love it?" The best way to understand this is to relate loving your drums to loving a person.

Many people think "love" is a feeling, but it's not a feeling. For example; I love my wife, but I don't always like her (I suppose she can probably say the same thing about me).

Love is an action word. It means to adore, care for, learn about, edify, be loyal to, be devoted to, be committed to, support, protect, and promote. When you do these things the feeling of love automatically comes.

So, how can you tell if you really love your drums? You can tell if you love your drums by the priority you put on them. They must have some priority in your life , otherwise your drums are just a little hobby that you will only be mediocre at.

3. Remain Humble
If a drummer really wants to increase his or her level of playing it is critical to remain open minded.
The mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open. That's why it is so important to remain humble. Arrogant drummers never grow beyond their current level of drumming because they don't think there is any more they can learn. How foolish! There is always more to learn... and any advanced drummer can learn from an intermediate, or even a beginner!

As you continue to learn you will then be able to teach. When you begin teaching, you will be amazed at the additional things you will learn (if you are currently teaching you will understand).
It's critical to continue to learn and grow if you want to increase your level of drumming, and remaining humble is the only avenue through which you can do this. As with anything else, you must absolutely be confident in what you're doing and knowledge can make you confident.

Please don't mistake confidence with arrogance. Confidence is what makes a good drummer a great drummer. Arrogance is what makes a good drummer a lonely drummer! I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to play music with some cocky jerk who thinks he or she is better than everyone else.

When you develop confidence in your purpose as a drummer, learn to love your drums by giving them some priority in your life, altogether with remaining humble, your level of drumming will increase considerably.


Tap dancing is back. Another aspect of tap dancing is improvisation, the timing of the step, the foundation of which tap dancing is built and the means by which the rhythm is based all of these factors are very important. To some it may seem that tap dancing is losing ground in the world of dance. The art of tap dancing is a culture in itself. Tap dancing is a great workout. A fun way to exercise is tap dancing; some of the benefits of dance are coordination and rhythm development. Even better, one hour of tap dancing is thought to burn around 250 calories. Tap dancing is fun for both the audience and the dancer and especially children.

English: Tap dancing class in the gymnasium at...
Tap dancing class in the gymnasium at Iowa State College. Ames, Iowa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You don't really have to practice tapping on a hard wood floor. All children need practice when they are learning new skills, just like adults do. Wearing black clothing makes it much easier to see your body movements while you are dancing to the rhythm of the music.

When you become an experienced dancer, you can purchase tap shoes, they come in an many different styles, it all depends on what type of dance you are doing. Try not to wear rubber on your shoes since they get stuck on the floor, the key is to flow across the dance floor while tap dancing. Put your dancing shoes on, tap dancing is the new way to keep off the pounds. Experienced tap dancers usually invest in a more expensive pair of tap shoes and they usually run around $250. Leave your stress at home and wear comfortable clothes and shoes its time to dance. Adapting to the music while dancing is a stimulating challenge, for some it is not easy to feel the rhythm.

Balance and coordination are items that are brought up in the this class so students learn the basic tap dancing techniques. When taking a class they will break down all of the basics of tap dancing, as well as explore the foundations of body movements. Tap dancers must stretch before every performance, rehearsal or class.

Tap dancing is probably the most interesting of dance genre. Tap dancing is a good type of exercise and the routines are sometimes used in performances. Having its roots in early American Jazz, tap dancing is fun but incredibly challenging. Tap dancing is a fantastic substitute to conventional workouts to stay fit. Tap dancing is celebrated all over the world.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

FLEETWOOD MAC Biography And Top 10 Songs

I probably started listening to Fleetwood Mac when I was about 10, 11 or something like that because I remember getting their Greatest Hits album and it had only just been released and at the time I didn't really know who they were but because I always listen to all sorts of music people just used to buy me music instead of toys.  When I listened to it I knew most of the tracks and I now think of it as one of my top 20 albums of all time.

Fleetwood Mac Birmingham NIA 3
Fleetwood Mac Concert at the Birmingham NIA - Photo by ahisgett 
Fleetwood Mac are an English/American cross breed who formed in 1967 in London.  The group have gone through far too many changes in members to list them all but the most notable members of Fleetwood Mac are, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Fleetwood Mac are probably one of the most hard working bands of all time and have released many albums (sometimes three or four in a year).  1968 saw the releases of Carousel Ballroom, Mr Wonderful and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.  In 1969 there were four albums, English Rose, Live In Amsterdam, The Pious Bird Of Good Omen and Then Play On.

Only one album was released in 1970 which was Kiln House, one in 1971, Future Games and one in 1972, Bare Tree.  Mystery To Me and Penguin were released in 1973.  Heroes are Hard to Find in 1974 and another two released in 1975, Fleetwood Mac which contained the hits Rhiannon, Say You Love Me and Landslide and In Chicago which again was a great album and a compilation.  In 1977 they released the collaboration album Fleetwood Mac And Christine Perfect - Albatross which contained the massive hit Albatross and they also released another of their most successful albums the same year which was Rumours and is another of my favourite albums of all time and contains the songs You Can Go Your Own Way and You Make Loving Fun.

In 1979 Fleetwood Mac released Tusk and the song of the same name became another huge success along with the songs Sara and Think About Me and the album has sold over 4 million copies and they went on a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany (where they toured with bob Marley), Netherlands, and the UK.  During the tour they recorded the music for the Live album which was released in 1980.

Mirage was released in 1982 and contained the hits Wish You Were Here, Gypsy and Oh Diane.

After this release they went on tour again and released the Boston Live album.  1987 was the release of Tango In The Night which went to #1 in the UK charts three times in one year and after this album Lindsey Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac. In the following Decade they released several more albums (Greatest Hits, The Blues Collection, Behind The Mask, 25 Years - The Chain, Oh Well Live, The Blues Years, Time, Live At The BBC and The Dance (which saw the reunion of the old Fleetwood Mac).

In 1998 Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and it is reported that they will be collaborating with Sheryl Crow in 2009 and there are plans for a new album and a supporting tour.

My Top 10 Fleetwood Mac Songs are:

01. Everywhere
02. Black magic woman
03. Rhiannon
04. Gypsy
05. Landslide
06. Go your own way
07. Little lies
08. Albatross
09. Seven Wonders
10. Buddy's Song

More information on WIKIPEDIA

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TUBA - Music-Instruments of the World

Tuba - Music-Instruments of the World

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Basic Info For MEY Or DUDUK Including Setup

Duduk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Mey and Duduk are two closely related instruments of the double reed family. Perhaps best known in America are the duduk performances on the soundtrack to "The Last Temptation of Christ", where the mournful and plaintive tone of the duduk is used to great effect.

The Mey is the Turkish name, Duduk the Armenian term, for an ancient woodwind instrument that also includes the Balaban of Central Asia and the Chinese Guan among its varieties. The essential feature is a short cylindrical tube with 7 or more fingerholes and one thumbhole coupled to a very large flattened grass reed, with some sort of adjustable "bridle" affixed to the reed. Even though it is sounded with what looks like an inordinately large zurna (sorna, mizmar, raita, suona, shenai, shawm, etc.) reed, inviting classification in the oboe family, the double reed in question behaves more like a clarinet, in that unlike the zurna and other early and folk oboes, the mey/duduk is capable of dynamic shadings from a whispered pianissimo to a full forte- although it is not capable of the blasting fortissimo of the folk oboes, allowing the mey/duduk to be used indoors in intimate situations. It also is a significant voice in the Armenian orchestra, carrying significant melodic material. Several sizes are found, tube lengths ranging from 6 or 7 inches to over 16 inches.

Again acting like the clarinet, the cylindrical tube and reed function as a tube closed at one end, and thus play an octave lower than one would expect for a short tube. Bora Ozkok referred to the Turkish mey as the "grandfather of the bassoon", although the clarinet is a better analog. Indeed Turkish clarinet style is heavily based on the older styles of mey playing.

The basic 7 hole + thumbhole fingering is also the same as that of the zurna family; that is, it produces roughly a major scale plus one note above, the range of a ninth. "Roughly" a major scale because it produces a natural scale, not a tempered one, although the lip can bend a note enough to play any interval, plus half-holing is also used to fill in the many shadings of pitch used in Oriental musical systems. On the rarer models with more than 7 fingerholes, the additional holes are located at the lower end of the tube.

It is difficult to give a definitive pitch of the various sizes of mey or duduk as the same instrument may play as much as a whole step apart with different reeds. One can only be precise about the pitch of a specific reed and tube combination.


The following are some hints for setting up your mey or duduk:

First, the reed, although large, only goes in the mouth a short distance, something like a half inch more or less. The lips may be loosely drawn over the teeth, or even slightly forward as if saying the German (or Turkish) vowel "Y". Do not use your teeth on the reed.

The reed must be wet; if the tip is closed it must be soaked until open. However, if the tip is too open, it will be almost impossible to play, so adjust the bridle to close the tip more. If this doesn't work, wet the reed and carefully press the tip of the reed closed; a gentle clamp of some sort, even a lightly sprung open paper clip will help.

The reed must fit the socket in the upper end of the mey/duduk. If it is too large as is often the case, gentle sanding or scraping on the base of the reed will adjust the size to match the socket. Wrapping the base of the reed with a bit of waxed dental floss or waxed hemp thread makes the fit exact and airtight, and minimizes the danger of the reed being accidentally knocked loose while playing. Waxed floss or hemp is used in a larger amount to fit the smaller reed to a larger socket, if that be the case.

The reed must be free of cracks; the only exception is if the crack is directly along the crease dividing the two sided of the reed. I have played reeds with a split there and they continued to play well. It is notable that modern oboe, bassoon, shawm, bombarde and bagpipe chanter reed are made from two pieces of cane folded over. Thus the side-split mey or duduk reed would work, acting as if it was made in two parts like the modern cane reeds.

An emergency repair can sometimes (and I mean SOME time only- not always!) be effected on a split reed by using Super glue; this is only a temporary solution and the reed should be replaced as soon as possible. Obviously one should be very sure the glue is dry before attempting to play the reed.

In many cases the reed must be tuned to the tube and its coupled air column. To test the internal tuning, play the lowest tone (all holes and thumbhole closed), then see how close the match is to the octave note (LH 1st finger only closed, thumbhole open. Then test the next octave pair, the tone produced with all holes closed but for the lowest, and its match, all holes open. If the higher octave notes are flat, then the reed must be shortened. Using a very sharp knife or scissors, trim a tiny sliver off the blowing end of the reed; test again. Continue little by little until the octaves are accurate. I caution you to only remove a tiny amount of the reed tip at one time. You can always remove more if necessary, but it cannot be put back on.

In the traditional styles the mey/duduk is never overblown, but if it were, like the clarinet it would produce a note a 12th above the fundamental; without clarinet-like keywork there would be a gap in the scale. Playing is therefore confined to the fundamental range, and no overblowing used. Like the bagpiper, much use is made of a limited melodic range.

With care, the reeds can last for some time, but like all organic materials is unpredictable, so for the performing musician an extra reed, already fitted and tuned, is a must.

To care for the tube of the mey or duduk, regular oiling of the bore and the exterior is recommended. I prefer to use sweet almond oil, as it is human-friendly and unlike other vegetable oils resists rancidity.