Pay the Piper

So you want to play a musical instrument?

You think you'd like to become a musician? Here are links to some fascinating and useful sites that will tell you everything you need to know

Why play an instrument?
What instrument to play
How to buy an instrument
Other costs
Where to get lessons
How much progress will I make?
Doing your practice
Music exams
Upgrading your instrument
Finding opportunities to play
Switching instruments
Violin & Viola
Double Bass
French Horn
Trumpet & Cornet
Other brass instruments
What's copyright?
Your questions answered

Links to other interesting sites

Looking for a teacher?
• We don't have a page about percussion, mainly because we don't know enough about it ourselves (how honest!). But we have found a good list of drum teachers, mainly in the East of England, at Sound Attak
Austin Mortimer specialises in workshop tutorials (groups of four to eight) for acoustic and electric guitar, Latin American percussion and Salsa/Merengue dancing. Based in Lancashire.
Area Music Centres provides links to many local music schools and centres in the UK - a useful site., a site where you can search for UK teachers of most instruments.
Music Lessons Online claims to be the largest UK database where you can search for an instrumental teacher in your area.
• If you live in or near Harrogate in Yorkshire, you'd like to know about Harrogate Music School which offers tuition and useful musical experiences for local children.


Looking for an instrument?
Musical Instrument Sales is an excellent, easy-to-use site where you can buy, sell and advertise all musical instruments, both secondhand and new. Dealers and shops are also listed. Recommended.
• If you play the cello you really need a hard case to protect your rather fragile investment. offers good quality cases for many other instruments as well.
Reeds Direct offers not instruments, but woodwind reeds of all kinds which can be purchased cheaply over the net.
Venus Harps and Dreamsinger are two American manufacturers of concert and folk harps respectively, both with interesting websites.
Thomann, a German musical instrument supplier who offers some pretty low prices, particularly for double basses. Well worth a look: click on your national flag, then type the kind of instrument you are looking for in the search box and hit "go".
George Gladstone is based in Darlington and offers a comprehensive and expert repair service for all woodwind. He also sells both new and second-hand instruments.
• We don't have a page on Pay the Piper about organs, but we're pleased to recommend Compton Organs who make digital organs suitable for churches, theatres and for use at home. They are based in Stowmarket, Suffolk, as we are ourselves.
Helen Kavanagh Music, based in Stratford-on-Avon, offer second-hand wind and brass instruments, repairs, accessories and tuition.
Musinex, the Musical Instrument Exchange site where people advertise their second-hand instruments for sale or exchange - definitely worth a look. specialise in selling instruments and accessories online, often at substantial discounts. A very professional and effective website.
John Myatt Woodwind & Brass - packed with information for woodwind and brass players. A useful section on caring for your instrument.
Dawkes Music, dealers in woodwind and brass instruments. Some of the cheapest prices around, and an excellent rental scheme.
Balaam's Music, an splendid local music shop that deals by post all over the country. Helpful advice from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner, John Balaam, himself a musician of note. Rental scheme for woodwind and brass instruments.
Paul Gerrish, luthier. Based near Woodbridge, Suffolk, this is the place to go for really high quality string instruments, repairs, valuations and advice.
Dean Pelling, expert repairer and supplier of woodwind and brass instruments, based in East Sussex.
Bristol Violin Shop. A good string dealer with a short-term rental scheme. Do have a look at the Newsletter on this site - it's beautifully written and more informative than anything we have seen - quite brilliant.
Electric Strings. This dealer specialises in electronic amplification of violins etc., and has a really comprehensive website. If you're interested in amplifying your violin so you can play jazz, folk or pop on it, this is the only place to start!
John Bilham. This Norwich-based retailer's excellent website gives details of his woodwind and brass instrument rental scheme. Good secondhand instruments, too.

Looking for more advice?
1st Clarinet Music has a great deal of interesting advice on all aspects of clarinet playing, and lots of sheet music you can download - no need to go to the music shop!
BeginBand is designed to assist beginning band or orchestra students in choosing an instrument and getting started in the wonderful world of instrumental music.
Amadeus Piano Co., Inc. offer a complete line of piano services for the greater New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut Tri-State Areas including: tuning, repair, rebuilding, refinishing, buying, selling, renting, & moving all types of acoustic pianos. Their Links section is enormous - hours of interesting browsing there - and the section on tuning is particularly informative.
• Learn to play the Guitar on the PC - Gitarrero-Beginner. Software guitar school for beginners with videos, midis, audios, songs, rhythms, accompaniments. For download of a free demo go to (it's pretty cheap, too!)
Making Music Now - music that teaches you to play the piano by following Jan Durrant's simple system.
The Virtual Orchestra is a really cool site where you can look at good, large pictures of most orchestral instruments and hear them being played, too. Some pages are a little slow to load and the "play" button is the last thing to appear, so be patient. What's really nice is that this is all done by the Northumberland County Music Service, and it's some of their teachers who are playing the instruments. Well done, them. Our local music service doesn't even have a website (how sad is that?) let alone one that plays music at you!
FLUTES.TK is an excellent "portal" for those who play the flute or are interested in learning. It lists a multitude of websites about the flute, divided sensibly into categories like Discussion Groups, Books, Sheet Music, Education & Training, Shops, History and so on. Very useful indeed.
Guitarnoise is an absolute must for everyone who plays the guitar or wants to. It carries a host of articles on every aspect of the instrument, including online lessons for beginners, advice on buying a guitar, chords, tablature, musical theory, different styles of guitar music - the lot! Excellent!
• The International Clarinet Association offers this excellent site with many useful links for clarinettists or would-be clarinettists.....
• .... and the rather similar is good too.
• Many string teachers don't like the idea, but it's perfectly possible to play the violin left-handed, and Ryan Thomson has an excellent website on the subject. While you're there, check out his "articles" page - very interesting.
• A few musicians manage to get by without the need to read printed music, but for most of us it's essential. The Rough Guide to Reading Music might help.
Britchops Drum Tuition. This online course provides all the information you need to begin learning today's popular drumming styles such as Pop, Rock and Britpop/Indie in the comfort of your own home. Drum charts by top UK and US bands.
TAXI: the leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows. Have a look at the "education" page of their links section - we think it's an interesting resource.
Marycliff Productions offer a piano and keyboard tuition course for adult beginners on DVD or video with music book and a free helpline. Clifford Evans comes from the same part of the world as Pay the Piper, and we know him to be vastly experienced with a considerable reputation.
The Woodwind Fingering Guide is a beautifully-designed site that provides fingering charts for all woodwind instruments - even the rare ones. offers advice, online tuition and a list of US trombone teachers.
"The Mozart Effect" - the beneficial effect on children's intelligence and general education arising from musical training and experience - is something all musicians should know about if only so they can win arguments with ignorant critics! Also have a look at the very similar Music is ......
The UK Piano Site, a comprehensive links site for all things piano.
The Virtual Piano Shop, a really excellent website; how to buy a piano, advertisements for second-hand instruments, addresses of piano shops, specialist piano movers, piano teachers, piano tuners, information about different makes of piano - everything you could possibly want to know. We love this site and cannot recommend it highly enough.
Mr.Moors' clarinet site has lots of interesting clarinet-type links, and it plays some pretty cool clarinet music at you too! is a wonderful site for those who play the French Horn or are interested in doing so. Advertisements for secondhand horns, a database of horn teachers, an interesting links page and loads of other good things.
The Horn Player's FAQ is a large and authoritative collection of advice, information and useful links, especially for more advanced horn-players.
Learn to Play Guitar. A free eBook about learning the guitar is on offer from this site.
The Trombone Shrine is for all those who "worship" the trombone - or would like to. Some useful links. is a portal to many sources of interest and instruction for flautists.
The Harp Haven. A good way in to all sorts of useful stuff about this rare and fascinating instrument.
Hot Frets offers you FREE guitar lessons online!
Mark Shepard's Flute Page has lots of links to places which will interest flautists, especially those who are teaching themselves to play.
Bob Gollihur's Double Bass Links Page lists a cool 700 websites of interest to double-bass fans.

Links sites and directories is a new lifestyle directory in New Zealand, and includes a useful page about learning music.
Amadeus Piano Co., Inc. offer a complete line of piano services for the greater New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut Tri-State Areas including: tuning, repair, rebuilding, refinishing, buying, selling, renting, & moving all types of acoustic pianos. We have included them here because their Links section is enormous and very useful to anyone interested in pianos and the art of piano-playing. - Music Directory is a good-looking, big directory site (and growing bigger, we should think) with loads of interesting stuff. Have a look at the link to "anti-music"!
Cadenza - a major resource for all classical and contemporary musicians., the world's favourite online classical music subscription offering listening, custom CDs, downloads, and a huge resource of entertaining information to expand your classical music knowledge.
KinderStart, a large American links site. Click on "Arts and Entertainment" to find many things of musical interest., a way in to a ring of American sites about music for young people.
Classical USA, a large and useful links site from America.
The Suffolk Sinfonia website has some interesting links and a directory of concerts, orchestras and choirs in Suffolk.

Sites that help you with your homework
Music Theory Net explains the theory of music clearly and in simple stages. Beware some American terminology - "quarter-note" for "crotchet", for instance.
MusicAtSchool is as much for teachers as pupils - it offers 170 free worksheets, for instance - but it's a well-organised and useful site.
The Essentials of Music - now this is a real homework resource!
Classical Composers has stuff about every classical composer you can think of, and heaps of good classical music sites on its links page, too.

Other interesting places
Musi-Trac, the amazing electronic device that uniquely identifies your instrument. Great protection for your pride and joy.
Red Z Gig Bagz - a range of really cool gig bags and cases for most instruments.
Karacha have all the sheet music and accessories you need.
Schubertline is the internet's largest transposable library of opera arias, German lieder, French mélodies, English songs, duets etc. by a host of great composers.
Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School in Suffolk is here just because it has one of the best school websites we've ever seen - interesting, well-designed, full of examples of the children's work, and fun! Some of the links in the music section will interest you.
The Full Pitcher, an interesting and novel site offering music for young musicians to play - both ensemble pieces for classroom use, and simple solos for budding concert artistes. They can be purchased by mail order, or printed out online at home which is jolly convenient. is a likeable and effective site aimed at those who like to listen to, and collect recordings of, mainly classical music. Listening suggestions, musical excerpts in Shockwave format, quizzes and a discussion forum. Very nice.
• Are you a teacher? You really should take a look at Music for Teachers, Keith Havercroft's excellent and very professional site offering curricular and other advice to practising classroom teachers. Highly recommended.
• Also mainly (though not entirely) for teachers, Staffordshire's music site is useful, fast and beautifully designed, and has a very well-organised Links section.
Unknown Composers. Bored with Bach and Beethoven? (Who could blame you?) Here are lots of perfectly good composers you've probably never heard of before!
British Reserve Insurance - the insurance company most musicians use. Part of the Cornhill group.
"Viola Jokes" Nuff said!
The Ravenscroft Consort, a group of musicians who play music written four or five hundred years ago or even more - "Early Music". As a beginner you are not likely to be involved with this type of music. It's popular, though, and uses some interesting and unusual instruments. Open this link and then click on "The Instruments" to learn more about them.
The Harmony Girls' Choir. Singing's just as important as playing an instrument. This award-winning choir is the finest of its kind in East Anglia.
Voce is a new young mixed-voice choir based in the Midlands. We haven't heard them yet ourselves, but they must be very good - they've got a smashing website!
"Gigfix". Need an accompanist? Or a conductor? Looking for instrumentalists for your next concert? This excellent East Anglian site has them all.
Earmaster is a programme for Windows that lets you practise your aural skills.

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Copyright © David Bramhall 2005