Favorite blog posts, August 2017

Please lose the music binder

photo, Hometown Beauty

For some reason a high percentage of my incoming students each year like to make a 3-ring binder for their sheet music and lesson materials. I don’t know why.

They apparently put a fair amount of time and money into this project, which often involves custom cover artwork, dividers, and plastic sheet protectors. As the semesters go by, the binder fills up with every bit of sheet music they have used, until the binder is so heavy that a music stand won’t support its weight.

I applaud and relate to their interest in keeping things organized and their enthusiasm for the course. But the big music binder just doesn’t work very well. Here are my complaints: Continue reading “Please lose the music binder”

Homemade EWI stand

Works ok.

There are a few stands commercially available for the Akai EWI, and lots of folks have made their own or repurposed other items. I wanted one that was inexpensive and compatible with the Hercules stands I mostly use these days, and decided to try the DIY route. I came up with something workable but not perfect, so I’m sharing my finished project in case anyone is inspired to improve upon my design (please share!).

I built mine mostly from 3″ (~7.5cm) plumbing pipe and fittings. (I’m including some product links in case they are helpful, but mostly I was able to buy these things locally for much cheaper.)

I bought a 2′ (~.6m) length of pipe, but only ended up needing half of it.
Cut mostly with a hacksaw, and refined a little with some files and sandpaper. Good enough.
3″ end cap, with a hole drilled to fit the bolt. The bolt is 3/8-16 (imperial), which fits the peg sockets in my Hercules stands.
Disk cut from EPS foam (“styrofoam”) and hot-glued into place. This is where the end of the EWI will rest. (The pipe piece is shown here inserted into the 22.5° elbow.) I picked foam because it is lightweight and easy to cut to shape.
Bolt secured with 5-minute epoxy.
This nut will help lock the stand in place on the Hercules base, sort of.
I didn’t bother gluing the parts together, since they fit pretty tightly anyway and I’m considering this a prototype. Some paint
…and some craft foam, secured with spray adhesive.
Works ok.

It’s more stable than it looks, even on this small Hercules base, because its center of gravity is so low. The end cap and elbow are heavier PVC while the taller part is made of lighter foam core pipe. As always, don’t leave instruments on stands any farther than you can sprint to catch them falling over.

Things I like about the stand:

  • It was cheap and not hard to make. The worst of it was cutting and shaping the foam core pipe, and someone with cooler tools than I have could probably make quick and accurate work of it.
  • Does work with the Hercules stands I already have. If you can figure out what bolt thread to use, you could easily adapt this to other commercial stand bases.
  • The instrument just rests in the stand, no clips or straps to unhook. Plus the whole upper key “stack” is exposed 360°, so the EWI is easy to grab even during a quick instrument switch.
  • No interference with any of the power/line/MIDI jacks.

Things that I don’t especially like:

  • On the 3-peg Hercules base shown, the stand has to be oriented as shown to stand up properly, which puts the EWI a little bit in the way of using other pegs on the stand. It works better on one of the larger Hercules stands, like the saxophone or bass clarinet stands.
  • Since the stand isn’t symmetrical like a typical flute/clarinet peg (because it leans 22.5°), it doesn’t always work to just screw it all the way into the base—it may end up leaning in an inconvenient or unstable direction. The nut helps lock it in place when it’s leaning the right way, but it’s fussy and not as secure as I would like (the stand tends to rotate a little if I bump it wrong).
  • It’s pretty chunky. I made a previous attempt to build this from 2″ pipe, which would work okay except that the EWI’s side keys protrude too much. (I did consider sticking with the 2″ pipe and making little cutaways for the keys, which could still be a possibility.)
  • The plastic-specific spray paint I used didn’t turn out well. I had trouble getting an attractive finish, and the paint tends to scratch off without too much effort. I’m not sure if the paint just isn’t well suited to these specific plastics, or if maybe it’s because I applied it in the extreme humidity of a Mississippi summer.

Anyway, this is a usable though imperfect design, and may be a jumping-off point for future versions by me or you.

Endorsement deals

photo, Sebastien Wiertz

First, let’s be clear about this: in an endorsement deal, the artist endorses the product or brand. The product or brand doesn’t endorse the artist. If an artist claims to be “endorsed by” a company, that is incorrect word usage.

An endorsement deal means that an artist agrees to be publicly associated with a product or brand, presumably because the company thinks that will encourage more people to purchase their products. In return, the artist generally receives some kind of compensation, which often takes the shape of free or discounted products. The contract might specify some requirements for the artist to fulfill, such as having their name and image used in advertising, appearing at the company’s publicity events, or plugging products on social media. Continue reading “Endorsement deals”