When I am not playing my instruments, I enjoy going to watch musicals, either in London's West End, or at my local theatre, and my favourite musical is Wicked! Therefore, I would love to play in West End orchestra pits when I'm older.
A while ago, I visited Phil Parker's music shop, in London with my Dad, in the hope to find a professional trumpet, to replace my previous student model. I was so excited to go there, as the thought of a shop dedicated to all things brass sounded like a dream! Here's my experience...
From across the road, the shop was easily identifiable, with its shop windows covered with horns of all shapes and sizes. And inside was not a disappointment! All along the walls were cornets, trumpets, tubas, trombones and French horns, and I even spotted some tuba mute's around! There were booths for musicians to go in and test out the instruments, and these were soundproof, so there was no need to worry about the sound!
When I arrived, a very helpful worker asked me of my mouthpiece size, which is a Bach 3C, and I was given a spare mouthpiece to use with the instruments. I encourage you to take your own mouthpiece when you go, as it ensures that your embouchure is not affected when you try out new horns. I was then asked what style, make, model and price I was looking for. For me, I was on the hunt for a trumpet which would take me into professional playing, as I had previously only played a student model cornet, and wanted to get a slick, efficient trumpet to add to my collection. I was a very open book when it came to the style and make of my trumpet, as I was quite inexperienced in knowing the different type of trumpets you can get, and what model was the best.
The lady started by finding me three trumpets, all of which were very different, and she took me to one of the booths. There was a sheet of music I could play, but I also brought a piece from home, so that I could get a real listen of the instrument tone, from the same piece. Once I have played each separate trumpet, I could instantly choose my favourite and rule out the weaker ones. I found it so fascinating how each trumpet can be so different when you really listen to it! Next the lady got me three more, and I kept my first favourite in the booth, so I could compare it to the others. I kept repeating the process over, until I had settled on a final trio of trumpets. I had based my decisions of the tone, weight, comfort, and valves of each instrument, as I believe that the most important factor of choosing a trumpet is whether you can see yourself playing that exact instrument. I recall one of the trumpets I tried was an unusual shape to the typical design, and therefore it felt very uncomfortable when I held it, and so I instantly ruled that one out.
After a few hours of testing, we decided to leave the shop and get some food nearby, because I needed to re-cooperate my thoughts and inevitably make that final decision. We came back an hour later, and I gave it one last blow on each of the trumpets. The assistant from earlier was very knowledgeable and told us some more on the trumpets, and that really helped me make up my mind! I had chosen a Silver-Plated B & S Challenger II Bb trumpet. I had never heard of the brand B&S before, which worked in my favour, because it allowed me to try the trumpet with no expectations beforehand of its style.
To conclude, I would highly recommend Phil Parker, because their customer service was excellent and they had everything you could need as a brass player, from mutes, to cases, to trumpets, to valve oil! I had such a brilliant time trying out all the different trumpets, and I will definitely go back in the future!
Phil Parker is based in Gravel Lane, in the City of London. Their website is https://www.philparker.bix/index.php
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