Some more decorations for my music shed

These papier mâché notes and treble clef are available from Hobbycraft stores. I’ve covered them with purple découpage paper to match the colour scheme in my music shed, and mounted them with sawtooth hangers and short screws.

Tip: coat the object you are decorating with white or grey primer before applying the découpage paper for a more even and brighter finish.

musical notes for shed

A music practice room of one’s own

The music practice rooms I used to visit on an almost daily basis are now permanently closed and out of use, and this presented me with an enormous problem: where to practise? I live in a terraced house and the walls are very thin. Not only that, but my Significant Other is an academic and he spends an awful lot of time at home trying to decipher illegible texts on EEBO, so he doesn’t want me squawking on the oboe right in his earhole. When I gave him the news that the practice rooms had been closed, he looked at my droopy little face, considered his options, and started shopping online for sheds. Within a week, the shed had arrived.

Bless ‘im, he banged that shed up in two days. (He really didn’t want me playing in the house.) Here’s the shed before I started painting it:

In fact it’s a summerhouse rather than a shed, and this is what we went for because if I’m to practise in there, I need windows to let in some light. The windows are made of some sort of heavy-duty plastic and they don’t open. This is not ideal, of course, but hinged glass windows come with rather a hefty price tag and we were working on a pricing basis of this-will-do.

Painting and decorating the shed 

I’d decided that I wanted the shed to match the colour of the leaves of our garden’s plum tree, so I opted for Cuprinol’s Summer Damson and Country Cream. It took me a fortnight to paint the whole thing, inside and out. I painted the interior entirely in the cream colour, to make the space as light as possible. (Click to enlarge the images.)

Now, I knew that I would be spending an hour or two in this shed every day, so I went to a bit of trouble with the interior. First of all, I put down some underlay and a cream rug:

I couldn’t get a rug to fit perfectly, so I tacked the excess to the walls. (This’ll contribute to whatever there is in the way of insulation.)

Next I added lots of purple-coloured stencils and accessories to match the Summer Damson paintwork:

There are two smaller purple rugs on the floor too. I practised in the shed before putting the rugs down, and have to admit that the acoustic was slightly better without, but the rugs are necessary. It would be far too cold in there without them and not even half as cosy. I’ve also hung up a lantern with an LED candle, and I re-worked the découpage job I’d done previously on my reed-making chair:

Almost there – just one or two more details. My Significant Other cut squares in the lawn to sink three flag stones leading up to the shed, which looks much neater than it would otherwise. And our stone bunnies have been promoted to the position of Guardians of the Shed (they make very useful doorstops).


Lighting the shed

Even with an interior painted cream and plastic windows, the shed benefits from the extra light provided by a battery-powered camping light and some cheap LED lights which I managed to glue to the ceiling after the third attempt:

These lights positively eat batteries, but I only switch them on when I really need to. In fact, I discovered that it’s really not a good idea to use the ceiling LED lights when the sun is shining. The roof got so hot that the LED light caught fire and I nearly burned my shed down (see pic below).

14117678_10154109182406749_3610138284618192964_nOops. It’s fine to use the LED lights when it’s cold outside, but I won’t be using them in the summer. There’s a little burn mark on my otherwise spotless paintwork to remind me not to do so.

So there we have it! I’m very pleased with my shed/music practice room. It is getting a bit chilly in there now, but if it gets too cold I can take a fan heater and an extension cord out there, so it’s not a problem. The carpet underlay will help prevent any damp from taking hold.

The shed isn’t sound-proofed, of course, but there have been no complaints from the neighbours so far (although I did set one of their dogs off barking this afternoon when I was practising slurring from the-very-top F# to G). My Significant Other is happy because he says although he can hear me playing, the sound is distant enough for him to be able to work. Plus – and this really is a bonus – I never have to queue for a room, or try to practise over the crashing noise of an inconsiderate pianist smashing away at the keyboard next door as I had to in the old practice rooms.

And here I am, all ready to play! I love my shed. It is absolutely BRILLIANT and I cannot recommend enough having a dedicated space at home in which you can play undisturbed. It’s just triffic.



My new toy: a piccolo shelf!

My latest acquisition is a piccolo shelf and it is brilliant. I pinched the idea from some musical friends, to whom I offer my most sincere thanks. A piccolo shelf is a small shelf which is attachable to your music stand, and flautists use it for their piccolos (hence the name). Now, it has dawned on double reedies that this is also a fantastic place to keep your water pots, spare reeds, reed knives, pull-throughs, and all the other endless gumpf that we need. Pics below show how the shelf attaches to the stand and what it looks like once it’s got all your stuff on it.

I love it. I’m so pleased with it. It struck me when playing in a concert the other day that I was having to bend down an awful lot to scrabble around on the floor for different reeds, scraps of cigarette paper to mop out blocked octave boxes, and so on and so on…and you see, the problem is that in a concert band I’m sitting in the front row, so all that bending down must be very distracting for the audience, and the other issue is that at my age, I don’t really want to be doing the bending-over-in-front-of-people thing. Questions arise, questions I don’t really want to answer, such as: am I going to have a red face when I sit up? Can I get down there in the first place? Are my boobs going to stay safely tucked in my dress? It’s an uncomfortable situation for everyone, quite frankly, but lo and behold, the piccolo shelf is the perfect answer to this particular problem. No more grunting around on the floor for me, no siree – that water pot and spare reed is right where I need it, seven or eight inches away at the most. Yup.

Ooo, I should probably note that I bought mine from and it was £23 including postage and packaging. And don’t drop it on your toe as I did. It hurts.

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The BHOB peg: more about slings and stands

The BHOB peg

Since penning a review of slings and stands for the cor anglais, it’s been brought to my attention that Howarth’s are now selling the BHOB peg. I’ve pasted below Howarth’s Facebook update about this peg:

“There is a new instrument support available for those who need to relieve the weight of their instrument. Inspired by the no longer produced “FHRED”, the BHOB is RDG’s own version of the popular telescoping support peg. The BHOB is a thin, adjustable peg that attaches to any thumbrest with a ring and rests on the chair between the legs of the performer.’ This new support can be used on the oboe, cor anglais and clarinet (with an adapter). You can find them on our website here.”

The BHOB peg is currently listed at £42.95. I’m quite happy with my floor stand for the cor and I don’t think I need any extra support for the oboe at the moment, but this might come in useful if I decide to take up the clarinet properly. I bought a clarinet in a charity shop ages ago, and have only really footled about with it for the moment, but I’ve noticed that it’s much heavier than the oboe. If I do end up playing the clarinet more than twice a year, I may punt out for a BHOB peg, but, and without wishing to be pernickety, I have noticed a small problem. The thing is that the young woman modelling the peg in Howarth’s photo is about four or five times smaller than I am, and I usually wear long full skirts to hide my ever-increasing girth. The peg fits snugly between slim be-jeaned legs, but it’s going to be awkward for me in a tent-size skirt to sit comfortably with this – and what about trying to use the peg when wearing my posh concert frock? But sitting astride a peg thrust into about an acre of bunched-up material is still more comfortable than tendonitis.