Author Archives: Brian Ackerman
For many people the cost of learning a new instrument alone is enough to put them off. There are many cheap instruments available but a huge number of pitfalls you can encounter. Surely there has to be a better way? We think we have offered the best of both worlds with our “Pure Rental” scheme.
Too often we come across people who have bought cheap instruments online which simply are not fit for purpose. Sometimes these ‘budget’ instruments are hard for a professional to play, let alone a young beginner. I can’t help but think this is the perfect way to discourage a child from learning music, as those early experiences with instrumental playing can be vital for building confidence. A lot of the time these cheap instruments are offered to us as the learner has given up after a couple of months, which is little surprise.
Our rental scheme is designed to promote instrumental playing as much as possible, so we offer a low-cost, flexible way to try out an instrument. If you’re interested in starting the violin you can spend just £8 a month to take away a Stentor I violin outfit (a good quality student instrument that we set up and maintain in our in-house workshop.)
You then have 3 months to try it out: most people will know if it’s something they want to pursue within that time. If it turns out you’re not finding it as enjoyable as you thought, it’s just a case of returning it to us, without the expense of purchasing an instrument and the hassle of finding somewhere to store it or sell it on.
On the other hand if your 3 months are promising and you know this is something you’ll enjoy you can purchase the instrument and get your first rental payment off the purchase price (e.g. £24 off a violin.) This is the most cost effective way of buying an instrument from us.
If you’re undecided that’s not a problem either, the rental scheme runs on a rolling monthly contract with a 2 week notice period. You can return the instrument at any time, or if you want to purchase later you can claim 50% of what you have paid on the rental against the price of any upgrade instrument of the same type. If you rent a student flute, clarinet or trumpet for a year you’d build up £72 of rental credit against purchase.
We’ve had several success stories of children starting on small size instruments (1/10 size cello for example) and sticking with our rental scheme, swapping over each different size when required, and building up enough in rental credit to upgrade to a hand-crafted German made instrument once they reached full size. At Ackerman Music we’re proud to promote this scheme, to give as many people as possible a chance to try a musical instrument.
We run the scheme nationwide* and are always overjoyed when we can be a part of starting someone’s musical journey.For more information please visit: http://www.ackermanmusic.co.uk/instrument-rental where you can see all the instruments we have on offer, and fill in a rental application form.
*except for Cellos and Digital Pianos
This August we hosted a ‘Piano Day’ in our Hove shop. We were delighted to welcome some guest speakers to talk about piano learning and teaching. The aim of the day was to showcase some new tools in the landscape of piano tuition, as well as bring pianists together to discuss and share ideas.
We had a full house for our recent Piano workshop with Melanie Spanswick, author of the wonderful Play It Again: Piano books and Samantha Ward who presented the very popular Piano Junior series on behalf of Hans-Gunter Heumann.
Despite a wet day in Hove, all attendees arrived promptly and were greeted with hot drinks, biscuits and goody bags. Melanie then spoke in depth about her books and had a question and answer session with the teachers. A hearty lunch followed, after which staff members Kirsten Lloyd Leach and Miles Vernon Ward presented the Casio Grand Hybrid Range, ably assisted by Andy Brown and Jack Terroni from Casio. They spoke about the teacher incentive scheme which launched recently as the ‘Grand Hybrid Teacher Network.” For more information go to info.casio.co.uk/pianoteachernetwork
Kirsten’s presentation on the Grand Hybrid range was excellent, and well worth reading through for anyone interested. The presentation can be found here.
The afternoon session continued with Samantha Ward demonstrating a lot of the exercises from the Piano Junior series. Three of her pupils had kindly offered to come along and play from the books and a lot of the attending teachers joined in as well! The afternoon ended with teachers topping up their sheet music collections thanks too our extra in store discount, and most of them left with signed copies of Melanie’s Play it Again books.
It was a lovely day enjoyed by everyone present and we are hopeful for plenty more events like this in our branches. You’ll next see the Ackerman Team at the ABRSM Conference in London on Saturday 3rd November.
Brass players often say that silver plated instruments have a “brighter” sound, but is this a trick of the eye? Once again we have put this to the test with a handy bit of spectral analysis. The question is: will there be any difference in sound?
For the test we used the same model of trumpet: the Yamaha YTR-8335 and YTR-8335S. The trumpets are identical except for the coating. As standard the 8335 has a gold lacquer, while the “S” model is silver plated.
Let’s compared the two, and I can reveal which trumpet is silver once we’ve had time to consider the results.
The YTR-8335 is a high quality instrument, and you can see this in the spectral breakdown, with many clear peaks going up the harmonic series. The peaks rise up to about 1.5kHz and drop off around 7.5kHz
The same note was played at the same volume, and as you can see the waveform is very similar. There are slight differences this time, as before there was a peak around 1.5kHz, this time the highest peak is around 700Hz. Instead of a cluster of peaks around 5kHz, there are two clear peaks at 6kHz and 8kHz.
So we have minor differences, and we can infer that Trumpet A is a “brighter” sound with more and more strong upper harmonics. But is that the silver trumpet?
I can reveal that Trumpet A is the gold lacquer, and Trumpet B is the silver plate!
Of course this result is based on just a few samples we’ve taken using simple software, and the differences are so minor I don’t really think you’d hear them every time. But for now Ackerman Music will recommend gold lacquer instruments for a nice “bright” sound.
Feel free to prove us wrong! We’d love to hear your take on silver instruments in the comments.
Here in East Sussex the local government is considering closing its Music Service, due to lack of funding from central government. The jury is still out on what changes will be made as the process moves into public consultation, but in the mean time there is one government scheme open to music students nationwide.
The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) allows students to purchase an instrument for use in their lessons without paying the VAT. This represents a saving of nearly 17% and for those thinking about a next-step instrument this can be quite a large saving!
For example an advanced student looking to purchase a wooden clarinet such as the Yamaha YCL-650, would pay the net price of £874, rather than the full price of £1049, a saving of £175.
The scheme covers all sorts of instruments, so be sure to ask when you’re looking to purchase an instrument.
To be eligible you need to have tuition from a state school or local authority: this includes playing in the orchestra. To make the purchase, go to your school or music service and request the instrument you want under the scheme. They will send us a purchase order, and receive the instrument on your behalf.
Not all schools have made use of the scheme, but the finance department or bursar should be able to find any relevant information on the government website here:
We’re a big fan of the scheme, as it allows more people to take up a musical instrument!
Have you used the scheme? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments.