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

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)   


Shop news

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 -



Vacancy for Saturday Sales position

by Administrator 26. September 2013 16:23

We are looking for a musician to help in our busy retail premises on Saturdays. 

The successful candidate will play a woodwind or brass instrument to a good standard. They also need to be intelligent, articulate, accurate and a good communicator.

Sales experience would be helpful, but is not essential as training will be given. This is a ‘people’ business, so musical ability, attitude and personality are more important.

Please apply in writing with cv in the first instance to our Retail Manager, Andy Still:

Top UK flautists host weekend flute extravaganza

by Administrator 16. September 2013 11:26

International musical instrument retailer, John Packer Ltd and south west flute charity, 4Flutes are collaborating in delivering an exciting weekend of flute events to mark the 10th anniversary of 4Flutes. Originally set up in 2003, 4Flutes aims to enables flute players in the south west of England to benefit from the same level of performers that are usually reserved for London and other large cities around the UK. In the past they have worked with top flautists including Mike Mower, Jonathan Snowden, Gareth Mclearnon, Emma Williams, Pete Long and Paul Edmund-Davies amongst many others.

Hosted by Peninsular Arts with Plymouth University, The Great Plymouth Flute Adventure kicks off on Friday 4 October at 7.30pm with a recital from flute revolutionary Ian Clarke. His recent 2013 album Deep Blue made waves in the flute community as it marked the first time that a UK flute player had broken into the top 10 Classical Music album chart with an album consisting entirely of personal composition. Heralded as creative and innovative, Ian’s repertoire includes both traditional classical pieces and also modern interpretations pushing the boundaries of what audiences expect from the flute. Joining Ian and also performing during the weekend (Saturday 5 October 7.30pm) is Clare Southworth, Professor of Flute at the Royal Academy Of Music. Clare is renowned for being one of the very few flute players to have launched a successful career as a solo performer and teacher. Passionate about raising the profile of flute playing, Clare is unrelenting in her international mission having performed and taught all across the world.

Alongside these two very exciting concerts is a chance for aspiring players to be coached by these two flute greats. Over the weekend both Ian and Clare will be hosting individual workshops enabling budding flautists to benefit from their wealth of experience and knowledge. Tuition, advice and mentoring will be available on a range of subjects.  Participants will also get the chance to perform with Ian or Clare in short concerts at the end of each workshop.

Tickets cost £30 for one workshop and one concert

Full access to all weekend events £50 (two workshops two concerts)

For more information and to book tickets visit the 4Flutes website.

6 Grade 8s In 1 Day: Blog No.4 - SUMMER HOLIDAYS

by Administrator 11. September 2013 16:31

This summer has been very busy, bringing both challenges and opportunities to perform and practice for the challenge. This 4th blog in the series will highlight some of the activities that I’ve been taking part in over the summer and will touch on some of the techniques that I have been using in order to improve my technique and to keep my lip in across all of the instruments and their ranges.

My summer began with playing at the CSSM (Charterhouse Summer School of Music) in Sherborne. This is an adult summer school for mainly orchestral instrumental players ranging from beginners to advance ability in a large variety of different ensemble settings. Over the period of the course, which runs for 1 week, I played Euphonium, Alto Trombone, Tenor Trombone and Trumpet in a variety of ensembles including symphony and chamber orchestras, a wind band and a brass septet. Playing is intense on this course and certainly builds stamina as the playing day runs from around 9:15am until up to 8:45pm (with some breaks for food, drink, air etc) and evening concerts can run after this all week.

As a regular attendee and steward for the course, the organisers Pip Huw Davies and John Huw Davies agreed to aid in the advertisement and fundraising of this event. I would like to thank them personally and on behalf of Cancer Research UK for helping me to raise over the £600 mark during the week of the course.

Following CSSM, I spent a week house sitting at a secluded school house. I took with me my Trombone, Tenor Horn and Trumpet and spent a lot of time practicing the grade 8 repertoire for the challenge whilst also trying to enhance my technical abilities and tone using the Arban and Vizzutti Method Books. As a result of the hours of practice on a variety of instruments and the regular changing of embouchure, my lips were feeling great by the end of this week.

However, immediately after the house sitting, I went on a camping holiday with my family. With no space in the car for even a trumpet, I took with me a pocketful of mouthpieces and my copy of the Arban Method. Though there are a mass of equipments for keeping the ‘lip in’ without your instrument (such as the berp, pete, buzzard, lip-dumbells etc) I have yet to find anything that really works any better than just buzzing through the mouthpiece (not that I have tested them all). And so after a week of instrumentless practice running through lip exercises, my lip and previous work had suffered a little. Nothing is as good as blowing through the instruments, however using the mouthpieces to keep my lips buzzing slowed down the lip muscle atrophy that occurs when it is not possible to practice in ideal conditions.

Over the rest of the Summer holiday period I shall be practicing intensely and contacting local bands to try to get in the band experience of playing all of these instruments.

You can now donate to the charity directly by visiting my webpage at
You can also donate from your mobile phone by texting: GRAD88 and the amount you wish to donate (e.g £5) to 70070.

100% of the money raised will go to Cancer Research UK. Your support is very much appreciated.

To view my previous blog and to catch up with the story so far click here.

Thank you,
Russell Lock

Follow me on Twitter
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(Supported by John Packer LTD, Denis Wick Mouthpieces and Trinity College London)

Upcoming brass events in 2013:

by Administrator 4. September 2013 15:25

British Open 2013
Saturday 7 September
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
The finest brass bands in Britain vie for the coveted prize - the British Open Champion title, including famous names such as Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery, Cory, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fodens, and Faireys, and will provide the audience with an enthralling day of music. Our own brass specialists Grenville Moore & Rob Hanson will be in attendance with a wide range of our own JP instruments as well as a selection of Besson, Yamaha and others.

Lower Section National Finals
Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 September
Cheltenham Racecourse
The ‘National’, as it is often referred to, is brass banding’s equivalent of the football league – a first-past-the-post Championship involving some 600 bands in eight ‘Regional’ qualifying heats staged up and down the UK, plus two ‘Finals’ events.
Our specialist brass team Steve Herbert, Tommy Allen & Grenville Moore are attending with a marvelous instrument display. We’ll have a wide range of mid-to-high end Brass including JP, Besson, Yamaha, Courtois, as well as some second hand kit and the popular pBone.

JP Symphonic Wind Band Workshop with Dr Chris Davis OBE (Ex PDM Royal Marines Band Service)
Saturday 28 September
Richard Huish College, Taunton
We’re very happy to confirm that we will be welcoming back Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Chris Davis OBE BA(Hons) MMus DMA LRAM who has run a number of well attended workshops over the past few years. Chris joined the Royal Marines Band Service in 1975 and rapidly rose through the ranks to the illustrious position of Principal Director of Music in 2002. He is entertaining and informative and while this is an informal event, the aim is to provide a high standard of performance and to enable those attending to have fun, gain experience and hopefully go home a better musician than when they arrived. Tickets for the event are £8.50 each and must be pre-booked. The day features challenging music, so musicians must be of an advanced standard.
To Book your place email

SWBBA 67th Annual Championships
Saturday 2 November
Riviera International Centre, Torquay
The Championships is open to all bands with seven (7) sections: Open (joint Championship/First); Second, Third, Fourth, Ungraded, Youth and Training Band with 2013 national grading being applied
Our specialist brass team Steve Herbert, Tommy Allen & Grenville Moore are attending with an impressive array of instruments and accessories. We’ll have a wide range of mid-high ends Brass including JP, Besson, Yamaha, Courtois and more.
If you’re attending any of the above events and want to trial a specific instrument, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Please email in the first instance or call 01823 282386.
Specialist deals are available at all events that we attend. Ask on the stand for details.

Diamonds in the rough: A stash of second hand brass beauties

by Administrator 4. September 2013 10:49

We have recently acquired a range of professional level brass instruments including some rare and highly sought after models. All in great condition, the collection makes up an interesting assortment. Some models are so
rare that, despite the 50+ years combined experience of some of our staff, they have never been seen before in the store. Of particular note is the still sought after Olds Recording Bb Trumpet with its offset middle valve and 3rd valve trigger. Considered by many to be the top pro model through the 1960s – 80s, it is rare to see a silver plated version in the flesh. Also available is the prestigious Paxman 25L French Horn, the horn of choice for many professional London orchestral players. The instrument which retails new for over £8,000 is fantastic value at £4850. A full list of all the instruments is available in the list below.

Bb Cornets
·         Yamaha Maestro YCR6335 SP LB (CS655281) - £750

Eb Soprano Cornets
·         Besson 926GS Sovereign SP (CS655284) - £600

Bb Trumpets
·         Stomvi Elite 330ML SP (CS655334) - £950
·         Yamaha YTR8310Z lac (CS655329) - £999
·         Bach Strad 180ML37S (CS655271) - £1550
·         Olds Recording SP (1952) (CS655276) - £1650

‘D/Eb’ Trumpets
·         Yamaha TR961 Twin bell (CS655298) - £1750

‘C’ Trumpets
·         Schilke C1L SP Tuning Bell (CS655278) - £1700

Bb/A Piccolo Trumpets
·         Benge Bb/A SP (CS655279) - £800
·         Kanstul 1520 Bb/A/G SP (CS655282) - £1800
·         Schilke P5-4 Butler Geyer Bb/A SP (CS655277) - £2300

·         Courtois 155RV (CS655283) - £1800

French Horn
·         Paxman 25L (CS655261) - £4850

·         King 3B MB (CS655235) - £1250

For further information about any of these or to arrange a time to come and trial these instruments please contact Steve Herbert or Tommy Allen on 01823 282386 (menu option 1).

For further news and to keep up to date with our latest products, news and events why not like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at 

JP instruments mix with the A-listers

by Administrator 14. August 2013 16:30

Already the brand of choice for many great names in the music industry, several JP instruments were recently selected by members of none other than Van Morrison’s Band at a recent gig. The JP144 Cadence Baritone Saxophone has already been in the spotlight having been played by session musician Ben Somers during Seal’s 2012 Tour. Alongside the JP144 Cadence, the band also selected the JP374 Sterling Euphonium to reinforce the fact that JP instruments are capable of playing at the highest level and are trusted by pro’s to deliver the goods in the most demanding situations.

Why not come and try the JP144 or the JP374 at the John Packer store?

Pictured: Ben Somers, session musician, with the JP144 on tour with Seal 2012

Lovely weather, fancy a cornet?

by Administrator 6. August 2013 15:38

The John Packer Ltd Brass Department were busy this weekend receiving  various used instruments to add to their growing range of secondhand stock. Amongst them are 5 professional level Bb cornets which are now ready for sale at fantastic prices.

Smith - Watkins K2 Bb cornet in silver plate for £1450 including a flight case. This professional level large bore cornet with 1st and 3rd triggers was handbuilt by the famous Smith - Watkins company near York in the UK. The cornet is in good condition and plays very freely over the entire range, there are a few small dents around the bell area near the valve block which are too small to show up on photographs. The serial number is #709. For further details on this wonderful cornet please quote CS655245

Yamaha Maestro YCR6335S Bb cornet in silver plate for £750 including the original hard case, 3 mutes and a mouthpiece. This is a fine example of the popular large bore Maestro cornet from Yamaha, this instrument is in a very good condition and would suit a player going up through the grades and beyond grade VIII. For more information please quote CS655246

B&S Challenger II Bb pro level cornet with gold brass bell and leapipe, 1st and 3rd triggers in a very good condition. This cornet would suit any good player looking for a professional instrument with a lovely mellow tone. Hard case and mouthpiece included in the sale, asking price £775. Ref CS655250

Besson 927 Sovereign Bb cornet in silver plate for £850 including a hard case. This is the medium large bore professional level Sovereign cornet with 1st and 3rd triggers which is highly sought after. This instrument would suit a player looking for a professional instrument with the famous 'Besson' brand name. There a few small dinks in the bell section and some scratches on the valve block, although these are purely cosmetic and will not affect the playing of such a fine instrument. For further details on this instrument please quote CS655247

Bach Strad 184 Bb silver plated cornet for £750 including a hard case and mouthpiece. This is a professional medium large bore cornet made by Vincent Bach and would suit a player looking for an instrument to take them up through the grades and beyond. There are some areas of pitting and wear to the silver plating where the instrument has been held by previous player. These cornets do not appear very often on the secondhand market so be quick to take advantage of this rare opportunity. Please quote CS655248 for further information.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of the cornets above or any other instrument, please contact us on 01823 282386 (option 1) or email Steve Herbert, Brass manager at

To keep up to date with exciting John Packer news, events and competitions why not like us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter at or read our blog at  

Ewan Easton put the JP tuba range through its paces.

by Administrator 1. August 2013 12:33

Grenville Moore from John Packer Ltd recently met up with Ewan Easton from the Halle to review the John Packer range of tubas.

Ewan’s review started with the JP077 mini Eb Tuba which is John Packer’s entry level  instrument and designed with the young player in mind. Ewan commented that “the instrument feels solid and should last, having said that it is not too heavy.” With a list price of £583 (ex VAT)  the JP077 represents a “Superb introduction to the Tuba family and fantastic value for money.” Ewan commented that the instrument was also pleasingly responsive at the extremes of dynamic range.

Having moved on to the JP078 mini Bb Tuba, within seconds Ewan commented on the excellent playing response. He described the intonation as “very effective for an entry level tuba.”  and singled out for particular praise the valves. He liked the curved design which makes such a difference to small hands and described the action as “light and responsive.” “Everything works well on this instrument. The valves are precise, the slides fit well, there is excellent protection for vulnerable areas of pipework and the instrument is robust without being heavy.” Ewan also described the case as being  “the sort that a young person would find cool.”  “I am really impressed with this instrument and the value for money is outstanding.” The JP078 is available for £784 (Ex Vat)

Next on the list was the JP277 EEb, the first level of full sized compensating instruments. “This is a staggering tuba for the money (£1961 Ex vat). The full orchestral range is easily available on this instrument and the timbre throughout all ranges matches very well.”  This was the updated JP277 and Ewan was full of praise for the new developments. The right hand position is now much better with a much smaller reach, the new valves are efficient and much quieter in operation. “I thought the finish was good on the older model but this is beautiful.” Ewan's final comment; “This tuba will see any player to grade VIII. I would have loved to have one as a student.”

The greatest praise of the day was reserved for the JP377 Sterling EEb. “99% of players could not out perform this instrument.” Ewan praised the build quality, high quality valves with a good hand position, the responsiveness, and the pedal range. “Everything works on this instrument. It has a full range with a singing quality. The notes are easy to centre, it’s easy to play. The effective compensating system aids excellent tuning.” Grenville added that “listening to Ewan take the instrument through many of his favourite orchestral passages was a rare pleasure.” “There was a double thrill of having a private recital coupled with the fact that he was playing on an instrument that your company had produced and of which you were very proud.” Ewan was flabbergasted to hear the price. “£3392 ex vat, is incredible value.”

That left us with only the JP378 Sterling BBb. “Rolls-Royce valves” was the immediate comment.  “This will take one hell of a player to find its limits.” Ewan’s house seemed to rattle as he took the instrument through its paces, finding extremes of range at the bottom. “What a sound!” “This instrument also looks wonderful. The finish is excellent and it appears very robust. The well-fitting slides suggest good engineering. The value for money is simply unbeatable.”

All of the tubas mentioned above are available from the John Packer website at For more specialist queries or to try one out today call the John Packer Ltd team on 01823 282386 or email them at