Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Take the Show on the Road


     As another Sounds-Around-Town comes up, I can't help think of ways in which I can take myself, another saxophonist, and a drummer to where we need to go efficiently. I had a lot of silly and serious ideas, but I'd like to share with all of you my absolute favorite.
     This idea is simple, and I doubt I'll be writing much: if someone in your small ensemble has a pickup truck, drive it to the lot you intend to perform at, and set up the drummer in the back of the truck. Lay down the appropriate carpets in the bed to make sure the drum kit doesn't slide, or fall, or so on. The other members can stand anywhere on the ground, really. In my case, probably one saxophonist in front of the drummer (behind the truck, facing away from the truck), in front of each brake light. In this way, you have the ability to move around without having to pack up and re-set up your drum kit, so long as everything is tied down, or secured somehow. I fully intend to try this, at which point I'll let everyone know how it worked!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Featuring: Opus USA

Some Original Information

     I've got some interesting information for all you saxophone fans out there about a little known brand called Opus USA: the brand is actually an off-brand of the Yanagisawa saxophones!
     Opus sells saxophones very inexpensively, though a pretty good quality. In fact, the saxophones have a great response in the key work, and are generally of sound intonation. They provide options for several finishes and colors, which is also rather nice. The brand is really something, especially for anyone looking for a cheap saxophone to buy (I got a curved soprano from Opus for $240 and a black/gold alto for about the same).
     This is all well and good, but none of it is particularly surprising  It was when I was jamming with a friend, however, that I saw something interesting: my Opus USA alto and soprano saxophones looked identical to my friend's pro Yanagisawa alto. The key work, the pearls and the guard designs were all the same on either saxophone. This information was interesting to me, as it would seem that an American company has started off branding an Asian company, quite the opposite to popular debate. This scenario would seem to put a wrench in many bloggers' ideas on off-brand saxophones, that Asian off-brands are the rout of all evil. 
     No, instead this information led me to believe that off-brand saxophones are without borders and, in fact, are necessary for creating a diverse saxophone market. Here's a big bit of my point: big brands like Selmer and Yamaha should stick to advanced and pro level horns, leaving student pieces to brands such as Opus. Why? Simple. For the same price as a YAS-23 (Yamaha student alto sax), you can get a "pro", good looking, fully functional alto sax from Opus that, quite frankly, plays better than the Yamaha.
     This might be shocking to a lot of people, but it's my opinion on the matter, and I strongly maintain that it's a good idea. There's no disputing the big-name brands' skills at designing and building the greatest pro horns, but when it comes to student saxophones, you have to think inexpensive- the most band for your buck. Can a low-budget music program at a high school afford ten saxophones from Store X? 
     Opus USA makes saxophones that don't look student (they aren't brass colored horns with silver key work). They make good looking saxophones at a low price. They modeled the saxophones after Yanagisawas, which is smart- Yanagisawa is no slouch. 
Black and Gold Opus Alto

Friday, March 1, 2013

All Work; No Play

New Challenges

     It has been a long time since I've last written for the Road. It started with the U.S East Coast power outages after Sandy, and continued through me getting a third job. This is, in fact, exactly what I'd like to talk about today.
     I've already discussed the challenges of being a college student and a musician on a campus where you are majoring in something other than music. It's hard to juggle practice time and recreational music time with studies.
     However, a new challenge for me, as I touched upon earlier, is the balance of work and play. In my case, I have postponed my academia in order to work hard to establish some form of fiscal security. I work for a private group in the maintenance department, I have a private landscaping account, and I work for Service Master; three jobs that demand quite a bit of my time. The money is pretty darn great, but I've been finding, more and more lately, that I haven't the time to play my saxophones, or even my ocarina or anything else. I try to get out to do so, but it's hard with the work, and any other private matters that are important, such as family time and time with my partner.
     Ask anyone with even the slightest amount of responsibility: time management is that bit of being an adult that causes adults to tell children "don't wish your days away".
     Ironically, I've been working extra hard in order to afford things like new saxophones and other music gear. However, that said, I think that all this work with very little play will inevitably pay off. Someday soon I'll have a new saxophone which can actually keep up with me, and a new car that can take me to prospective future gigs and open mics.
     At any rate, this is simply a new challenge along my own road as a musician, and I need to travel on it in order to overcome the difficulties. It may be a new challenge, but in a way, this is nothing new. I've been faced with challenges since the moment I touched my first saxophone. This is but another issue I will find settlement in.
     And indeed, if you find yourself in this same 'all work and no play' predicament, I'll tell you now, just keep diligent and you'll figure out what it is you need to do to have everything you want. Budget your time properly and new opportunities will open up before you.