Tag Archives: top ten

Top 10 music blogs and review sites

1) If you play ukulele, check out this fab blog packed full of tips, tricks and reviews by the well-known ukulele author and teacher Brett McQueen. http://www.ukuleletricks.com/blog/

Being the online presence The Guitarist magazine, it seems only natural that Music Radar would host some of the best guitar resources online, including these two….

2) Learn something new and improve your technique at http://www.musicradar.com/guitartechniques

3) Don’t buy an expensive piece of kit until you’ve read the reviews at http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/guitars

4) Everything you need to know to be a healthy and happy gigging musician from http://www.musicianwages.com/

5) Everything from creating a fab website for your band to tips on dealing with an agent http://www.musicthinktank.com/ deals with the big issues of the day affecting both professional and amateur band members.

6) If you enjoy supporting new artists and want to know about the next rising star before everyone else, surprisingly one of the best places to be is the BBC! http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/introducing

7) Stay in touch with the Classical music scene at http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music – CD reviews, performer interviews and brilliant snippets of trivia.

8) All the latest gossip from the Jazz world http://thejazzbreakfast.com/

9) Although it’s the blog of Alex Ross (the music critic at the New Yorker), http://www.therestisnoise.com/ also features reviews of the most influential productions and performances happening around Europe, as well as fascinating articles about musicians old and new.

10) http://www.soundonsound.com/ is one of the most informative music technology websites with an active and friendly forum for all your questions on set-ups, recording and software.

Top 10 tips for choosing a flute

1) If you have a flute teacher already, get some advice.

Your teacher can tell you which brands of flute would best suit your style of playing and also how quickly they expect you to progress. Remember though, your teacher wants the best for you and may be inclined to be idealistic – this often means suggesting flutes which are outside of the price bracket you are ready to commit to if you haven’t been playing long.

2) Try before you buy.

Even if you don’t play at all yet, you can gain something from just holding different flutes and taking into account the different weight and balance. If you already play, the tone quality and the action of the keys will be more pleasing on particular instruments. This is not a very exact science so you need to be prepared to listen to your heart as well as your head to get the right flute for you.

3) Does silver content really matter?

YES! The silver content isn’t there to make it look pretty, it drastically improves the tone of the flute. Any silver is a bonus but look out particularly for a silver-plated head joint in cheaper instruments or a solid silver one in more expensive flutes. The John Packer JP011 student flute is the only one on the market to offer full silver-plating at a beginner price.

4) Consider the pros and cons of second hand flutes.

You may be able to get a better quality flute by buying second hand. However, even if you buy from a shop, pre-owned instruments don’t always come with a warranty. The set-up on a flute is very delicate and the keywork or pads can become worn. Don’t buy second hand in a private sale unless you can take someone with you to try the flute who already plays well and would be able to spot any issues.

5) The technical stuff.

The standard requirements for a beginner flute would normally be:

– Closed hole (solid keys instead of rings with holes in the middle called ‘open hole’).
– Split E Mechanism (or ‘mech’). This just refers to the way of playing some of the notes and is by far the most common set-up on beginner instruments.
– Offset G key. The G key sticks out and is therefore considered easier for beginners to handle. Inline G is not a complete no-no – just make sure it’s comfortable and easy to find.
– C foot joint (rather than a ‘B’ foot).

6) Look out for Rental Schemes.

Many music shops offer instrument rental so you can learn for a while before you commit to buying your own flute. If you rent your flute from enjoymuzic, we deduct the amount you have already paid if you decide to buy at the end of your rental. Ask your local store if they offer any similar incentives.

7) Don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can afford.

Everyone with an interest in music will have an opinion on the flute you choose but as long as you and your teacher are happy with it, all that matters is that it suits your CURRENT needs. A well regarded budget brand flute will take you to around Grade 5 (approx 4-6 years) and will last longer if you don’t plan to take exams.

8) What age can my child start playing the flute?

This depends, in part, on the height of the child and the length of their arms. Around 8 is the minimum age that many flute teachers will consider. However, if your child is petite for their age or you are planning to start younger then you can go for a curved head flute. This will bring the keys closer to them and is normally sold with a straight head to move onto as they grow.

9) Don’t get bogged down by ‘what-ifs’

What if I don’t take to it? What if my child progresses past the quality of the flute I buy? What if…. A well kept flute will always fetch a good second hand price. Whether you sell because you stop playing or to contribute to an upgrade, you will often find your teacher or school know someone who is in the exact position you’re in right now and will be glad to buy from you.

10) Don’t skimp on the accessories.

A flute is a big purchase and it’s understandable not to want to spend loads extra. However, keeping your flute properly on the inside and outside will have plenty of long term benefits. Ideally a flute mop or pull-through to clean the inside after playing and a silver polishing cloth for the outside will get you started. Also, if you don’t already have one at home, a music stand is essential to help achieve the correct posture while playing. On the flip side, don’t let anyone sell you any ‘extras’ you aren’t sure about unless you know exactly what it’s for and can see how you will benefit from using it.

And finally….

If you’re not sure, ask.

In a good music shop, you should feel able to keep asking questions until you feel confident about your choice. If you aren’t sure or you don’t feel your questions are being answered, walk away and try another store or sleep on it to give yourself time to digest all the info.

Top 10 Most Annoying Christmas Songs/Hits

Following our Top Ten Favourite Christmas Tunes, here’s the ones we can’t stand!  How about you?

1) All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
I want you to get them as well – so I can knock them out for you!!
2) Driving home for Christmas
3) Santa Baby
4) Last Christmas (I gave you my heart)
5) Lonely This Christmas

6) When We Collide – Matt Cardle
7) There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma – St Winifred’s School Choir
8) Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby
9) Earth Song – Miichael Jackson
10) That’s My Goal – Shayne Ward

Top Ten Christmas Songs/Hits

Which Christmas songs give you that warm, fuzzy, festive feeling and which ones make you long for Boxing Day? Here are our favourite Xmas songs and also our favourite Christmas No.1 singles…

1) Step into Christmas
2) Do you hear what I hear?
3) Walking in a Winter Wonderland
4) Do They Know It’s Christmas?
5) Fairytale of New York

6) Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
7) I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
8) I Have a Dream – Westlife
9) Mad World – Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules
10) MoonRiver – Danny Williams

This is just our opinion – tell us what you think or treat yourself to a nostalgic look at the Christmas No.1 list.

Take a look at… The Christmas songs we REALLY hate – oh dear!!

Top ten guitar accessories (part one)…

The top tools and gadgets to help you always sound your best and perfect gift ideas for your favourite guitarist.

1)  Tuner – because your guitar won’t sound right without it!

Unless you’re one of the 1 in 10,000 people who have perfect pitch, a tuning device is essential. Strings stretch and contract while you’re playing and also with changes in temperature so even if your guitar is tuned once a week by a teacher, you should ideally tune every time you play. If you’re using learning aids with a backing CD, your guitar needs to be bang in tune to sound right, even if you’re hitting the correct notes! This also applies if you play with other people, either in a class or a band.

Tuning with a tuner is easy, particularly with one like the Snark clip-on tuner which has a nice, easy-to-follow display.

NB: Many people use the ‘fifth fret rule’ so your guitar will sound ok. However, if your guitar is never checked on a tuner, you still risk snapping a string through over-tightening.

2)  Gig bag – because your guitar deserves protection!

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a carry bag. How much you choose to spend will depend on the value of your guitar. We prefer bags with a side opening zip (less chance of damage to the tuning pegs!) and back-pack straps make it easy to carry. We offer a budget price TGI student guitar gig bag and also a more padded version.

3)  Stand – got 5 minutes? Spend it playing your guitar!

One of the main reasons people don’t play their guitar is that they feel they must set aside a long period of time for practice. However, if your guitar is standing safely and easily accessible, you can achieve a lot in short bursts of 5 – 10 minutes. Also, guitars tend to get left out anyway and being knocked over whilst leaning against a wall or sofa is the biggest cause of damaged instruments.

There are many styles of guitar stand including lightweight (ideal for taking to gigs and also in smaller spaces), stands with a backrest and we even offer the Hercules guitar hanger to store your guitar on the wall!

4)  Pick selection – different pick, different sound!

The pick you choose will depend what music you want to play. A harder pick will make a louder, brasher sound whereas the thinner ones create a gentler tone. The different gauges also feel different in your hand, so your grip is a factor too. Musician and Band or character picks make a great gift for a guitarist.

Guitar picks are pretty cheap, so grab a few different ones and see what works best for you!

5)  Strap – for posture, support and character!

Your guitar strap is a great accessory as the price range and variety of designs is enormous. From bands and artists, to cartoon characters, slogans, leather, suede – they all do the job, although a little extra padding is a great idea if you play a lot.

See our selection of guitar straps, from less than £6.

Click here to see part two…