John Packer Blog

Welcome to the John Packer blog. Here we’ll keep you updated on all the latest happenings at John Packer Ltd, all the latest music news, musical instruments and competitions.

Month List

New John Packer Bass range receives high praise

by Administrator 10. December 2013 14:10


FROM £699.60 (JP077) TO £4,490.60 (JP378)

Wilfred Driscoll recently
came down to review our own ‘JP’ range of basses, instruments that cater for the complete beginner right through to the professional player and are competitively priced compared to the established makes.

Student Instruments:
Wilfred started with our entry-level instruments, the JP077 mark II Eb and the JP078 Bb bass and said:

These instruments have three valves, and have the tuning slide in the leadpipe for ease of use. Both instruments feel solidly built with plenty of protection to avoid dents in the vital areas and a good thickness of brass. The sound they produced was a lot bigger than you would expect from an instrument of their size and they were very easy to play in all ranges. They are well designed for smaller players, with the distances between the hand-hold and the valves close enough for small hands, and, while they are well built, they are light enough for children to handle, making them a good choice for schools and music services. They come with a mouthpiece that is a little bigger than the average beginner mouthpiece. I think this is a great idea as it opens out the sound and makes the lower range better, as well as keeping the number of mouthpiece changes necessary as the player progresses to a minimum. The B
b instrument has a cunningly designed third valve slide that loops back on itself to protect the slide from any accidental damage. They both come in a semi-hard case – providing lightness and protection – while the wheels and storage pockets are very handy too.”

Wilfred then moved on to the JP277 intermediate EEb Bass continuing to compliment the range saying:

“This full-sized four-valve instrument with 19 inch bell comes with the compensating system – extra slides that make the low notes in tune – allowing the full chromatic scale to be achieved in the pedal register. Pedal notes are achieved with ease and without having to force the air through the instrument with all the valves down. This instrument has a low-level leadpipe allowing not-so-tall players to reach it without having to stretch up to it. I liked the ease of access to the third-valve compensating slide around the back of the instrument. In a neat design, two knobs on the side of the slide allow better grip – a great idea, as this slide often gets stuck from lack of use. All these instruments have brass valve guides, which are more durable than their plastic counterparts.”

The Professional Series:
John Packer Ltd has teamed up with Paul Riggett of Sterling Musical Instruments, one of the leading British makers, to come up with its professional instruments. The JP377 Sterling EEb has the higher style leadpipe that Wilfred found more comfortable, due to the fact that it is curved around the bell a little more, meaning that you don’t have to hold the instrument so ‘straight on’. Wilfred went on to compliment the JP377 Sterling saying:

“The sound is big and round while still retaining control over clarity and articulation, especially in the higher register. The instrument felt at home in both the lighter and heavier orchestral repertoire and is an excellent all-rounder. Packer’s most recent addition to their range is the JP378 BB
b bass. I was astonished by how good this instrument is! The British brass band style BBb bass has always been an unwieldy beast: every instrument seems to have different characteristics, it is usually very hard work to achieve a good round sound, and, personally, I feel very tired after playing one even for a short time. This instrument is totally different. All the handholds are in just the right place, the fourth valve is within easy reach, as is as the leadpipe, and there are no worries about it falling off the chair. I felt that I could play this instrument all day. It produces a fantastic sound with a good solid core and it is in tune all the way up the scale. It is very clear to see that the John Packer makers, along with Paul Riggett of Sterling musical instruments, have spent a great deal of time dealing with the traditional problems of these instruments and have come up with fantastic solutions. Anyone looking to buy a bass should take a serious look at this range as the quality and price are very hard to beat.”

For further information on any of the JP bass range or to request an instrument on approval, please contact Steve Herbert, Brass Manager on 01823 282386 (menu option 1) or email

This review was first published in the December 2013 edition of Music Teacher Magazine.


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John Packer Ltd nominated for ‘Most Innovative Retailer’

by Administrator 4. December 2013 16:07

International woodwind and brass retailer John Packer Ltd has been nominated for ‘Most Innovative Retailer’ for the Music Teacher Magazine Awards For Excellence 2014. Now in their second year, the awards, hosted by the widely respected Music Teacher Magazine, seek to reward musical businesses, institutions and groups who excel in a variety of given categories. The ‘Most Innovative Retailer’ category seeks to reward the retailer that “has proactively met and developed the needs of the music education sector”. Culminating in an evening of celebrations on Thursday 20 March, the award ceremony will be held in the Barbican’s stunning Garden Room and Conservatory and hosted by Classic FM’s Margherita Taylor.

John Packer Ltd have worked closely with the education sector for over 40 years and have contributed to a shift in the cultural relationship between music retailers, schools and colleges.

Their involvement in the creation of the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS), which quickly became a nationwide provision, supported the growth of music in schools by making instruments more accessible. Now, with music losing its significance in the modern curriculum, John Packer Ltd is fighting not only to restore its rightful position, but also to change the way in which is it perceived. The wide variety of benefits that music offers is already well documented - positive impacts on mind, health, socialisation, self-esteem and academic prowess - all of which generate positive outcomes in the education system and also far beyond in the wider community. Through the creation and promotion of the AIPS, and integration with a wider educational policy, John Packer Ltd hope to be able to contribute to the fight against what’s been described in The Times newspaper as a “national tragedy”.

More recently, and integral to their commitment to supporting the needs of the educational sector, John Packer Ltd’s own instrument line, JP Musical Instruments, has also made big waves. JP Musical Instruments have been developed in collaboration with world class woodwind and brass designers including Smith-Watkins, Sterling and Rath. The result? High quality and performance at an accessible price - parents get better value and schools and LEA’s get more from their budgets. Designed by such guru’s, these instruments have captured some of the magic usually reserved for instruments of much higher value - more people in more schools playing better instruments.

For the future, John Packer Ltd are committed to continue working with the education sector nationally and locally to try to create and inspire more musicians and support the resurrection of practical music making in schools across the UK.

JP Symphonic Wind Band Day 2014: TV & Film with Pete Long

by Administrator 26. November 2013 15:52


JP Symphonic Wind Band Day 2014: TV & Film

Conducted by Pete Long
Saturday 1 February 2014
Richard Huish College, Taunton
Tickets £8.50

On Saturday 1 February 2014, we will be hosting another in our highly popular series of Symphonic Wind Band days. This time the baton will be wielded by the inimitable Pete Long. Pete is a player, composer, arranger and bandleader and has been described as a "national treasure" by Clive Davis in The Times. During an illustrious career, it seems like Pete has played with almost everyone from Jools Holland, Sir Paul McCartney and Lionel Ritchie, through to the Stereophonics, Texas, Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie. No stranger to conducting, he is also MD of the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band. With Pete at the helm we want to welcome players to join us for a day of challenging repertoire and friendly guidance to hopefully make us all better players at the end of it. The repertoire will be centred around classics from TV & Film, past and present, which I’m sure will be hugely enjoyable. During the day you will also get the chance to draw on the extensive knowledge and experience of Pete Long and the John Packer Specialists with any questions about playing, performance or practise.

The repertoire for the day will include a selection of hits from classic TV and film from arranger Michael McDermott including:    

James Bond
Jurassic Park 
Star Trek Generations 
TV Cop Themes

Michael is a highly respected arranger having worked in the industry for over 35 years. Most notably, he arranged All The Queen’s Horses, which was present to  HRM The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee last year.  The days playing will also include:

Eve Of The War Jeff  Wayne Arr Ed Keeley
Band Of Brothers Suite Michael Kamen Arr Jeremy Brubaker
The Cowboys John  Williams
Out Of Africa by John Barry.

The event will be held at Richard Huish College in Taunton with registration starting from 9am. Tickets for the day cost £8.50 and must be booked in advance. The repertoire will be challenging and designed to tax the grey cells (and pink fingers!). Although the day is designed to be an informal and fun event, we request players to be of a Grade 8+ standard. The hope is that everyone will leave satisfied at the end of the day having had some enjoyable musical exercise!

For further details and to book your place email or call 01823 282386 (menu option 1).

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The creative importance of music in schools

by Administrator 25. November 2013 14:23

This letter is in reply to the article in The Times (19 Nov) titled "The creative importance of music in schools", a copy of which can be found on their website at

Dear Editor

On the subject of the decline in music education in schools, I would disagree with the contributor who described the current situation as a ‘national tragedy’. I think that barely begins to describe the cultural and academic disaster that is not only unfolding relentlessly, but also accelerating, before us.

There is little benefit perhaps in detailing the cause of our current predicament, but the prevailing situation is an almost perfect storm of preconditions necessary to snuff music out of education in large areas of the UK.

1)    Many Hubs only have resources to deliver Wider Opportunities (whole classroom tuition) projects and maintain their area ensembles (county orchestra’s etc)
2)    In these areas, the majority of the teaching in schools is often carried out by independent self-employed teachers.
3)    Those hubs wanting to engage schools with non Wider Opportunities teaching are now competing with (and losing against) the teachers that they recently made redundant who can offer a cheaper alternative.

Consequently, huge tracts of the UK have no cohesive, structurally supported or strategically co-ordinated music provision at all.

Music provision in primary schools offers little kudos in the eyes of the government where all eyes are on success in other target areas (numeracy and literacy etc) and all resources are given to playing the government game so that success occurs both in league tables and with the Ofsted inquisitors. Musical success gains almost no recognition and is not a supported by the government as major feature in the curriculum. Consequently, the rich seam of beginners ore that primary schools provided for the secondary schools has been all but mined out.

The bizarre thing about all this is that it is occurring despite a wealth of incontrovertible evidence that music has benefits beyond simple musicianship. Among its many qualities are the ability to improve the mind, health, socialisation and self esteem as well as offer vital life lessons. For example the relationship between input and outcome. There is no frivolous, life cheapening instant gratification with practical music making. Music is regarded by too many as simply being something that is ‘nice’ to have and the reality is that there is active negative discrimination in curricular terms.

If you ever go on a sales course, you will be told that people respond to benefits rather than technical details. A salesman won’t dwell on the details of how something functions, but will concentrate on explaining how their client’s life will, in some profound, practical and tangible way, be enhanced by their purchase.

I believe that the best education that we can offer to H.M. Government and school heads (and parents) is the message that music gives tangible and significant benefits. These benefits need to be sold to anyone in a position to aid in supporting music provision. Music matters because it has the potential to help a school achieve higher academic standards, to reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour and truancy, to give health benefits and to build generations of well rounded individuals. The clear benefits for the Government are that it can assist in achieving its academic targets and it can also save money by reducing the need for support services to deal with the effects of bad behaviour (including outside the school environment) and truancy etc. Some these benefits will leave indelible and significant marks on the broader community far beyond the school playground and far beyond an individual’s school career.

As a musician myself (and I mean that in the sense that musician is what I am rather than what I do), I am of course concerned about the decline in something that has been a part of world culture for centuries. However,  I don’t want to encourage action purely to maintain a long standing habit or because music is ‘nice’. It has become a cliché to say that music changes lives, but those of us who have experienced it know the truth of the statement. More importantly, the wealth of research that has been carried out is in full endorsement of it. How many non-musicians have experienced teary eyes when watching Gareth Malone’s choral series and how many of those that he has tutored have said that their lives have changed irrevocably as a result of their brief experience?

Why then, is something that has the capacity to have such a positive effect on education in particular and, consequently, on society in general being cast to the winds.

The Government surely must immediately engage with Music Mark to come up with a strategy for re-introducing music to the core of the education system (starting in the primary sector) in a manner whereby high quality instrumental lessons are provided along with sufficient funding to allow this to be sustained indefinitely as a key element of the very fabric of mainstream education in the UK.

It is simply indefensible to consider the possibility of decline into oblivion or for it to be relegated to the equivalent of game reserves in the leafy suburbs of middle class suburbia where it can finally become extinct out of the public eye.

This is not in any way a tilt against those dedicated people involved in music hubs who are doing their level best to offer high quality music provision in the most difficult of circumstances. They have my respect, admiration and (unfortunately) sympathy. I hope that they will have the opportunity of delivering music to the standard that they would wish under a new regime where the true value of music in education and the community is finally fully recognised.
Jon Parkinson
John Packer Ltd

Free Christmas Gift Guide with 25% off mutes, cases, stands and mouthpieces.

by Administrator 21. November 2013 14:50

To say thank you for all your support over the past year, we have put together a free Christmas Gift Guide full of great ideas for your musical friends and family. Featuring a range of brass, woodwind, general and gift ideas, there is something for everyone, whether your budget is £5 or £5,000. As well as a great selection of ideas and suggestions for Christmas we are also giving you some fantastic discounts on a wide range of accessories.

Sign up for our general newsletter before Tuesday 26 November 10am and we’ll send you codes and the Christmas Gift Guide to give you:

25% off all Mutes
25% off all Cases
25% off all Stands
25% off all Mouthpieces

To sign up for our newsletter visit and fill in your details.

Our Christmas opening times are:
Mon 23 Dec: 9:30 - 5:00
Tues 24 Dec: 9:30 - 12:30
Christmas Day: Closed
Boxing Day: Closed
Fri 27 Dec:9:30 - 5:00
Sat 28 Dec: 9:00 - 5:00
Sun 29 Dec: Closed
Mon 30 Dec: 9:30 - 5:00
Tues 31 Dec: 9:30 - 12:30
Wed 1 Jan: Closed
Thurs 2 Jan: 9:30 - 5:00

For delivery before Christmas, please order before Wednesday 18 December for Second Class and Friday 20 December for First Class. Any large items including instruments and cases& gig bags that require postage by courier must be ordered before Friday 20 December.

Happy Christmas from all the staff at John Packer Ltd.

Terms & Conditions: offer valid until 31/12/2013. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Offer only valid for purchases online. 


Shop news

Yamaha fanfares new XENO range

by Administrator 29. October 2013 15:06

Over 90 VIP Yamaha brass and woodwind dealers from 16 European countries formed a capacity audience at the historic Theatre Kehrwieder in the heart of Hamburg’s fashionable warehouse district on 30 September to witness a new chapter in the illustrious history of XENO, as Yamaha unveiled the latest additions to its award-winning range of trumpets.

The event was characterised by exceptional performances from seven of the world’s most accomplished and respected trumpet artists. It is testament to Yamaha’s relentless research and development work on the XENO range that such a roster could be assembled for the event.

The evening was expertly hosted by R&D manager Thomas Lubitz and brass product specialist Timo Hanf, both of whom provided humorous and informative links between performances They also conducted highly educational question and answer sessions with the artists, who each gave their own personal opinion on the XENO instruments and their impressions of the improvements Yamaha have now made to the 16-strong range.

Artists taking part included UK-based Philip Schartz, principal trumpet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; the Italian, Andrea Tofanelli, also recently appointed to the board of directors of the International Trumpet Guild; French Instrumentalist Sylvain Gontard; local Hamburg boy Ingolf Burkhardt, who is with the NDR Big Band; Vincente Campos from Spain, who is Professor of Trumpet, Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Valencia; soloist and Professor at Conservatoire National re region de Rueil-Malmaison, Eric Aubier and the explosive Norwegian soloist Frank Brodahl, who is also Musical Director of Norwegian Blaseensembelet.

Two key and common themes emerged as the artists provided rare and personal insights into their opinion of the new instruments. Firstly, the new instruments do not represent one big change, rath, many small, subtle improvements that combine to produce much better sounding, more versatile and more playable instruments for all musical styles. Additionally, Yamaha is keen to stress that they have maintained current price points thus ensuring that the new models offer exceptional value for money.

Secondly, the assembled artists all noted the great projection and free character of the instruments. This allows the players to build their own personal sound, giving them unprecedented creative freedom at the highest levels of performance, the instruments ‘coming to’ the players without them needing to work too hard to find ‘their’ sound.

Trumpets are at the heart of Yamaha’s brass instrument range and the groundbreaking YTR-1, the very first Yamaha trumpet, was introduced in 1966. Providing the benchmark for all subsequent brass instruments, the new XENO trumpets remain true to the vision of the designer of the original trumpets. The XENO range has now expanded to 16 instruments, comprising medium and large-bore models, standard and reverse type models and a variety of finishes.

Yamaha spokesman Ian Frankland, commenting on the launch, said: “With such a stellar line-up of some of the world’s finest players, this is the perfect start to the next chapter in the history of XENO. The range now offers great variety and options ensuring that serious players can find their sound. The huge variety of sounds available from the new models provides tremendous creative freedom whatever the musical style”      

If you are interested in trialing any of the new Yamaha Xeno instruments, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our brass team. Steve Herbert, our Brass Manager is more than happy to discuss the new range with you further. he can be contacted at or by calling 01823 282386 (menu option 1)

This article was featured in British Bandsman October 2013


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Duo Sax Concert and Masterclass Tour 2013

by Administrator 28. October 2013 11:47



The Great Plymouth Flute Adventure hits all the right notes

by Administrator 11. October 2013 11:25

International guests from as far afield as Spain recently took part in a special weekend of flute activities at Plymouth University to mark the 10th Birthday of local flute charity 4Flutes. Vital in championing flute playing in the South West of England, 4Flutes has always managed to entice the most exciting flute players to perform in more than just a recital and concert in the nation’s capital. This year, flute royalty Ian Clarke and Clare Southworth not only performed in several recitals over the weekend but also hosted special one-off workshops giving aspiring flautists the chance to work with some of the UKs finest musicians.
During the workshops participants were given expert tuition on a variety of areas including playing, technique, breathing, embouchure and ensemble work. Participants especially enjoyed the chance to ask Ian and Clare about specific issues that they were experiencing and to draw upon their extensive knowledge and professional experience.

The concerts that took place on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th October featured a variety of genres including classical and modern playing. Ian’s concert “Deep Blue” featured a number of compositions from his 2013 album of the same name which made it to number 8 in the Classical Album Chart earlier in the year. Ian is thought to be the first UK Flautist to make it into the top ten with an album compromised entirely of new compositions. Accompanied by Tim Carey, Ian played Hatching Aliens!, Touching The Ether and Madrigal by Philippe Gaubert amongst many others. His creative flair and innovative use of the instrument delighted the audience.

Clare Southworth played alongside the Ten Tors Orchestra, conducted by Simon Ible in the Minster Church of St Andrew Plymouth on Saturday evening.  In this special performance, Clare brought new life to the concerto by Reinecke, a less well known Victorian composer, in a vibrant & compelling performance. The Ten Tors Orchestra also played A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture by Mendelssohn and Symphony in F Major Pastoral by Beethoven. 

As well as the captivating concerts and workshops, both Yamaha and Pearl also had a presence at the event. There was also a contrabass flute by Dutch flute maker Eva Kingma that stood over 6 feet tall and proved a real talking point.

A truly celebratory event that was enjoyed by all, Ruth Ballantyne, Director of 4Flutes, closed the event by thanking everyone involved for their support and shared her wishes for a bright future for flute players.


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Success of John Packer Symphonic Wind Band Workshop sparks future Brass Band workshop

by Administrator 7. October 2013 14:43

A large number of enthusiastic musicians from across the UK took part in a special wind band event on Saturday 28 September in Taunton, Somerset hosted by Brass and Woodwind specialists John Packer Ltd. The workshop, led by Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Chris Davis OBE BA(Hons) MMus DMA LRAM saw participants challenged with a variety of exciting pieces and arrangements including the lively Stage Centre by Richards, The Melody Shop by King and Sea Songs by Knox.

Participants thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the day and remarked how well balanced the choice of repertoire was. Erica Wright who played in the trombone section complimented the day adding “I was thoroughly challenged but (the event) also gave me a more confidence in my playing

Chris Davis shared many wise words of wisdom with those that attended commenting that the “texture and layers of playing was very encouraging”. His extensive knowledge and experience enabled people to grow in confidence over the day players with many remarking on improved playing. 

Following a full days playing, friends and family were treated to a final concert performance featuring some of the highlights from the day. Of particular note was the emotional and moving performance of John Williams’ Hymn to the Fallen.

Richard De La Rou of the Exeter Music Group described the whole day by saying "I much enjoyed the wind band day organised by John Packer recently.  The music was difficult enough to interest advanced players but not impossible for those slightly less competent to attempt.  I left feeling that I had a good day and exercised my sight reading considerably!"

Following the success of the second annual wind band day, John Packer Ltd plan to host their annual Brass Band workshop on Saturday 29 March in Taunton with special guest conductor Dr Robert Childs. Needing no introduction, Dr Childs is one of the leading figures in the world of brass music having performed at the highest levels for over 30 years.

To register your interest and to reserve your seat, contact our Brass Manager, Steve Herbert by emailing or calling 01823 282386 (option 1)   


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EMG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Symphonic Wind Band Workshop with Marion Wood

by Administrator 3. October 2013 13:38

Greetings from the Exeter Music Group (EMG)!
During our 2012-2013 season the EMG Symphony Orchestra has become very aware of the debt we owe to the many fine brass, percussion and woodwind players who join us for repertoire that requires many players additional to our core membership. We want to keep in contact with this group and are also experimenting with the development of a high quality Symphonic Wind Band constructed by our Musical Director, Marion Wood.

Marion Wood studied Postgraduate Orchestral Conducting at the Royal College of Music and also spent some time as Assistant Chorus Master to the London Philharmonic Choir. She continued her orchestral and choir work with appointments to the Belfast Philharmonic Choir and Assistant Conductor to the National Youth Orchestra as well as working with various choirs and ensembles of young professionals in London.

Marion was Director of Music at the University of Exeter from 2006 to 2013 and her work included support for the University Concert Band. Her appointment as Musical Director of the Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra proved a great artistic success, challenging the players to undertake works not usually attempted by laregely amateur orchestras. Her enthusiasm for the development of a high standard symphonic wind orchesta has encouraged EMG to broaden its range of musical activities.

Musicians are invited to a special Symphonic Wind Band Workshop to be held at St Peter's School, Quarry Lane, Exeter on Saturday 1 March 2014.

We are inviting those who are interested in joining us for the workshop to contact Richard de la Rou (percussion and brass) or John Welton (woodwind). The music will be challenging so musicians should be of an advanced standard.

Tickets for the workshop on March 1st, 2014 must be pre-booked with the contacts below.

Please bring your instrument, music stand and a packed lunch.

Registration from 9.15am for a 10am start. The day will end at 5pm.

John Packer Ltd will be in attendance with a selection of instruments and accessories.

Brass/Percussion - Richard de la Rou - 01395 274099 -
Woodwind - John Welton - 01395 271915 -