The tools of my trade . . .

My piano is a Yamaha U3 upright acoustic, dating from 1981. It’s one of the finest professional uprights made, benefitting from Yamaha’s long tradition as piano makers. Did you know that Yamaha started out as a musical instrument manufacturer, specialising in pianos and reed organs? Their U series of professional upright pianos are found in music colleges, conservatoires, performance venues and musicians’ homes the world over. The late 1970’s and early 1980’s seem to have been an especially good period for Yamaha U’s, with a consistently high quality of manufacture and tone. My example has a beautiful, warm tone and a medium-weight action. It’s also very loud! It’s a bit too much piano for a family home, but I have a very understanding wife!

I also have a little Yamaha P120 digital piano in my study upstairs, which makes it easier to practise and rehearse without risking my marriage! It used to belong to a very dear friend of mine who is no longer with us, and I think of him every time I sit down to play it.

My clarinet is a gorgeous Buffet-Crampon RC; I just have a B-flat instrument at the moment. I use a Selmer Standard C** mouthpiece, which has travelled from instrument to instrument with me for many years. My reeds vary between Vandoren Traditional (‘blue box’), 56 Rue le Pic, and V12, all at 3.5 strength.

I also play a Yamaha YAS-62 alto saxophone, currently with a Meyer 6M mouthpiece and Vandoren Traditional 2.5 reeds, although I’m experimenting with different combinations. I was using Rico Royals, but I just find them a bit flabby and lifeless.

Other equipment includes a Bose SoundTouch 10 bluetooth and wireless speaker, which allows me to play backing tracks or musical examples from my iPad/iPhone. I use PreSonus Notion notation software, and ABRSM Aural Trainer. I also make extensive use of scores freely downloadable from IMSLP. For sound recording purposes, I have a Blue Yeti USB mic, which I connect to my iPad in conjunction with PreSonus Capture Duo recording software, and carry out processing and production on a Windows PC (I have enough Apple kit!) using PreSonus StudioOne. Phew! I have a lot of stuff!