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

Summer School in Exmouth this August!

by Administrator 21. July 2014 11:32

Summer Music School in Exmouty

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Events

The West End Comes to the South West in this Fantastic First!

by Administrator 21. July 2014 11:17

Pete Long 2014 Intermediate Wind Band Day

We are excited to announce our first ever Intermediate Symphonic Wind Band day suitable for players from Grade V.

Following feedback from many people disappointed that they weren’t confident enough to attend our advanced workshops, these Intermediate level events are ideal for gaining experience with a professional conductor as well as getting the chance to play with many other like-minded musicians.

For our first intermediate workshop we welcome none other than the inimitable Pete Long. Pete conducted the Advanced Symphonic Wind Band Day on Saturday 1 February 2014 and went down a storm with players who complimented him on his creative and friendly approach. Pete previously played and arranged for Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra for 5 years and now acts as bandleader for Ronnie Scott’s Big Band. He has played with and supported a massive range of musicians including Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Stereophonics, Clare Teal, Jamie Cullum and many others. Pete is also a highly skilled educator and frequently leads workshops in schools and colleges across the UK. 

This workshop will feature a ‘musicals’ themed repertoire with many well known pieces, including: Oliver, Hairspray, Chorus Line, Lion King, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Frozen, and Breezin' Down Broadway.. 

This unique workshop gives musicians a rare opportunity to work with a highly regarded music professional and also the chance to learn and play with other like minded people. Pete will also be answering players’ questions and giving advice on how to arrange and compose music. 

Tea and coffee is available throughout the day. There will also be the chance for attendees to try a wide range of instruments and accessories on our fully equipped trade stand, let us know if you would like us to bring anything in particular. 

We very much hope to see you there! 

To book your tickets contact Steve Herbert, Brass Specialist, on 01823 282386 or email steve@johnpacker.co.uk. 

Places for the day usually fill up quickly so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as you can.

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Events

Join us for a 'Mike McDermott' Fest!

by Administrator 21. July 2014 11:01

Michael McDermott leads music workshop

Another in our special series of exciting events for advanced musicians, this time we welcome guest conductor Michael McDermott to host our September workshop. 

A household name within the industry for more than 2 decades, Michael is a highly respected arranger and composer. Most noticeably, he arranged All The Queens Horses, which was presented to HRM The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee last year. Michael is also well respected for arranging James Bond, Jurassic Park, Star Trek Generations, TV Cop Themes and many more… 

 

The full repertoire for the September workshop includes: 

Nostra Regina 

Fanfare composed by Michael for the Massed Bands of The Royal Marines for the Mountbatten Festival in 2006 

Commando Spirit

A quick march, which was the winning piece composed by Michael in a composition competition. 

Overture of Overtures

Many well-known overtures arranged by Michael. 

How to Train Your Dragon 

Film music arranged for massed bands by Michael and used at the Edinburgh Tattoo. 

1492 Conquest Of Paradise

Film theme arranged by Michael

 

This workshop focuses on Michael’s own work and includes a number of newly arranged pieces. Michael’s arrangement of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ for massed bands at the Edinburgh Tattoo is an exciting re-imagination of John Powell’s original composition for the film of the same title. McDermott’s second new arrangement, ‘Overture of Overtures’ includes a number of well known pieces you may recognise. 

This unique workshop gives musicians a rare opportunity to work with a highly regarded music professional and also the chance to learn and play with other like minded people. Michael will also be answering players’ questions and giving advice on how to arrange and compose music. 

Tea and coffee is available throughout the day. There will also be the chance for attendees to try a wide range of instruments and accessories on our fully equipped trade stand, let us know if you would like us to bring anything in particular. 

We very much hope to see you there!

To book your tickets contact Steve Herbert, Brass Specialist, on 01823 282386 or email steve@johnpacker.co.uk 

 

Places for the day usually fill up quickly so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as you can.

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Events

Grade 8 Challenge - Blog No. 2 - A Visit to Denis Wick to Pick the Perfect Mouthpieces

by Administrator 28. February 2013 09:37

As mentioned in my 1st blog, the instruments that I will be using for this event have all been kindly supplied by John Packer Musical Instruments and I am using their top of the range “3 series” brand of John Packer Instruments. Now having experimented and played around with the instruments for a few weeks, I am beginning to realise the difficulties that I will encounter in attempting these Grade 8 exams. The foremost of which being choosing mouthpieces that I believe will provide me with the endurance, intonation and tone required to be successful in my grade 8 examinations.

On the 18th of February, I visited the Denis Wick factory in Poole after being kindly invited by Denis himself [pictured below]. I was welcomed by Brian Miller who gave me the full tour of the factory where it was fascinating to see how components such as the mouthpieces and mutes are actually made and the processes involved. I was also given the opportunity to try out mouthpieces and choose the best ones for the job.

After much testing, playing and annoying the staff that were trying to work at the time in the factory, these are the Denis Wick mouthpieces that I have paired with the John Packer instruments and reasons why I chose them:

Brian Miller

Denis Wick Factory


INSTRUMENT MOUTHPIECE REASON
Trumpet: JP351LT(SW) Classic 1.5C /Ultra 1.5CH Cup depth and diameter felt very comfortable on both mouthpieces. They are different shapes and designs and I could not decide on which provided me with the best tone quality on the day so was kindly allowed to take both.

Tenor Horn: JP372 Sterling Classic 1A A deep and large diameter cup which allowed for a very sweet tone but somehow still felt more comfortable on my higher and lower range than the smaller and shallower mouthpieces I tried.

Trombone: JP332 Rath (Large Bore) Classic 4ABL This mouthpiece and instrument combination just worked so well. Even when compared to the similar 4AL mouthpiece, this one seemed a vast improvement in the power I could put through the instrument and tone that was sounding out.

Euphonium: JP374 Sterling Ultra SM3U A superb and warm tone was achieved in this pairing, perhaps a larger diameter mouthpiece than some might expect, but a personal strength in my playing is upper range and this mouthpiece allowed me to squeeze out even more warmth of sound without compromising range.

Bass Trombone: JP232 Heritage 0AL A powerful, yet controllable and open sound could be achieved through this set up. The mouthpiece is very large but somehow felt comfortable and not the ‘bucket’ feel of other bass trombone mouthpieces that I have played on.

Tuba: JP377 EEb Sterling Heritage 3XL In this combination, I thought I was looking for the impossible in a mouthpiece that would allow me comfortable low range pedals (an area I have found difficult in Tuba playing) whilst maintaining a good mid-range tone and keeping a reasonable upper tuba range. This mouthpiece ticked all of the boxes when used in conjunction with the instrument. I played lower than I have ever played and somehow maintained tone and upper range.

Russell Lock at the Denis Wick factory

If all that was not enough, I also left the factory with a practice mute for the Trumpet and some of Denis Wicks new valve oil, all of which kindly given with no charge in order to aid the fundraising for Cancer Research UK.

You can now donate to the charity directly by visiting my webpage at www.justgiving.com/Russell-Lock
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.

Thank you,
Russell Lock
(Supported by John Packer LTD, Denis Wick Mouthpieces and Trinity College London)

All of the above Mouthpieces are available from John Packer Ltd. Call 01823 282 386 Option 1 to speak to Steve in our Brass Department.

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Grade 8 Challenge

Packers Donates Musical Instruments to Ensemble in Uganda

by Administrator 23. November 2012 16:11

JOHN Packer Ltd and Derbyshire Music Service have collaborated so that the Mbale School Band in Uganda recently received a raft of woodwind and brass instruments. The band practice often and learn vital life skills from their experience in the band. We'll keep you posted on their progress! 

Philip Monk - founder of ugive2uganda - said: "Learning to play a musical instrument to a reasonable standard requires determination and instills character in a child. Add to this the comradeship, confidence and fun that comes with being part of a musical ensemble and you have a perfect environment to stimulate spritiual, academic and character development."

The charity is currently fundraising for a music centre where they can also teach woodwind instruments, keyboard and guitar.

For more information visit: www.ugive2uganda.org

 

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Shop news

JP243 Soprano Saxophone a "remarkable instrument" says RCM Prof!

by Administrator 20. February 2012 14:20

We do love receiving feedback from musicians, and we were delighted with this glowing review on the new JP243 soprano saxophone from David Burnand -a music professor at the Royal College of Music...

JP243 soprano saxophone

"I received this saxophone last week and have had great pleasure playing it.

"The sax feels light, which for me is good, as I play without a sling and am now developing arthritis in my wrists. In fact it's 200gm heavier than my 1926 Buescher True-Tone, but so nicely balanced that it feels lighter on the right hand. Good news for us oldies and for younger/smaller players, too. I like the integrated neck and (therefore) absence of a curved alternative crook, thought his might not suit everyone. Overall construction and appearance are of a high quality.

 "Against expectations, I stuck with the mouthpiece provided, which plays very well. In fact, on this instrument, I prefer it to my (presumably more expensive) Vandoren, Barone and Link m/pieces. The square cross-section of the chamber arch reminds me of the Selmer S-80. It speaks clearly throughout the entire range of the instrument from low Bb to high G. Intonation is excellent. The usual variations at tops and bottoms of registers lie within a very narrow range on this instrument. Tone is even throughout the instrument. Inevitable differences of tone for overlapping notes either side of the break are useful, therefore, rather than sounding like different instruments, one too thin and one to thick.

"The keys are smooth, even, fast and well positioned. My relatively short little fingers can be problematic with low Bb on some instruments. No problem at all with the JP243, which has a well-designed plate for the left-hand cluster. On some instruments altissimo keys are often difficult to find or too easily opened inadvertently, especially for players with smaller hands. Not so with the JP243. Fingering is intuitive and comfortable on this sax.

 "In conclusion, this is a remarkable instrument for its price range, and I would recommend it to beginners and professionals alike."

Professor David Burnand
Royal College of Music

Click here to buy the JP243!

 



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JP351SW Trumpet Receives Thumbs UP from NYJO and Royal College Prof.

by Administrator 17. January 2012 14:37

We're delighted to have received this review from Mark Armstrong about our JP351SW LT trumpet. Mark is Musical Director at NYJO and Jazz professor at the Royal College of Music. 

"I was recently asked by the chaps at John Packer's if I would review one of their recent introductions to the market - the JP351SWLT trumpet. Having both tried and been impressed by some of their earlier instruments I was keen to see what they had conjured up now. This interest was further enhanced by the fact that this instrument is a movement into new higher market areas for the Packer team and this means that you are battling with tougher opposition. Firstly the model number - 'SW' shows that, once again, Richard Smith (of Smith-Watkins) has been involved both in the overall design and, specifically, the all important lead pipe.  The 'LT' refers to the fact that the bell is very lightweight which, combined with the nickel silver reverse leadpipe, is an interesting combination on a large bore instrument.   

"On first sight I was impressed by the build quality - lovely construction and the slides and valves all moved sweetly and positively. Not only are Packers collaborating with the best designers in the West they are also using western grades of materials and, it seems, the best technology to ensure good construction quality. This instrument is over £1000 less than my own trumpet, but the build quality appeared to be equal.  It's impressive even when you open the case and look at it.  

"That's the cosmetics dealt with, but how does it all combine as a working tool for a musician? I tested this trumpet both at home and 'in the field'. My initial tests made me feel so confident in the instrument’s capability that it has now been heard by many people who have been to see Chicago in the West End. The sound is pleasingly warm and centred even at extreme dynamics and its overall characteristics make it ideal for jazz, big band or showmusic etc. Capable of power or subtlety with equal ease.   

"Frankly, at this price, this instrument is amazing value. Packer's intention in bringing higher quality & performance to the market place at accessible prices has certainly been achieved. I have been happy to use it professionally and will be using it again on Boxing day when I take NYJO to the Today [BBC Radio 4] programme.  This trumpet is without doubt capable of professional performance, but priced to be accessible to players doing the higher ABRSM grade exams. Great combination!"

See this wonderful trumpet by clicking here!



JP351SW LT trumpet

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Reviews

Music Makers 2011

by Administrator 10. November 2011 11:23

YOUNG inspired musicians flock to Music Makers every summer holiday; such is the positive feeling they get from a week of music making.


Music Makers is directed by the experienced David Andrews and assisted by a team of specialist teachers. The aim is to share enthusiasm for and enjoyment of music, whilst helping musicians develop their abilities and confidence in playing and performing.

There are four courses; juniors age 5-6, intermediates age 7-10 and seniors 8-18 - grades 2-6 & 6-8 (with residential option in Fordingbridge). Courses take place in Wimbledon, Salisbury & Fordingbridge. All the course culminate in a presentation concert of some of the music rehearsed during the week.

John Packer Ltd attend some of the shows with a trade stand of emergency musical supplies!

If you'd like to know more about Music Makers, click here

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Events

Got An Event?

by Administrator 1. October 2011 11:21

If you are hosting an event and would be interested in having a John Packer trade stand there, please contact the shop on 01823 282386 or email sales@johnpacker.co.ukJohn Packer Trade Stand with lots of instruments on display

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO: John Packer trade stand at the Welsh Regional Brass Band Championships in Swansea.

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Events

Flute Day Hosted by Internationally Renowned Flautist

by Administrator 5. September 2011 16:03

JOHN Packer Ltd and 4Flutes annual flute event will feature world renown flautist Paul Edmund Davies this Autumn.

Taking place on October 23rd at Plymouth University, Devon, from 10am-4.30pm the flute day is open to players of all ages and abilities.
Guest star, Paul is an astonishing player of great virtuosity and his reputation is at the highest level around the world, established as a flautist and soloist in the twenty years that he was principal flute of the London Symphony Orchestra, performing under the baton of many leading conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano and Andre Previn. He has performed on more than 50 film soundtracks, including classics such as Star Wars & Harry Potter. He is also Professor of Flute at the Royal College of Music.The flute day promises to be an exciting opportunity to listen and learn from one of the greats. Paul will even perform on the day in a final informal concert at 4pm.

4Flutes aims to bring opportunities to the southwest that are both affordable and accessible to pupils, parents and in general lovers of live music.

All places need to be booked in advance. Tickets cost £25 per person. For an application form or more details please see www.4Flutes.com or contact: Ruth Ballantyne or Mike Nottage on: 01752 844017/ 07779 063948.


For more information about Paul Edmund Davies you can visit his website by clicking here.