Battle of the School Bands Results

We have had a lot of fun things happening at Willis Music this year, such as our buyers and President attending Winter NAMM, our 116th Birthday, among many other great things. Also, we decided to have a little fun and healthy competition between school bands in the area. How you ask? We had a Battle of the School Bands. It was great! We had 7 schools participate and the videos we got were awesome! The participating schools were Reiley Elementary School Ukulele Club, Casey County Beginning Band, Bellevue Band of Gold, Williamsburg High School Concert Band, Western Hills Wolverine Marching Band, Conner High School Band, and Turkeyfoot 7th Grade Band. It’s a good thing voting was left to the public because it would have been hard for us to choose the best one.

So what is Battle of the School Bands? Great question. This was a Facebook contest we came up with that ran from January to May 1st. All school bands in the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana areas were able to enter. We got all kinds of videos! Everything from a band performing in Disney World (how cool would that be?), to a marching band transforming into zombies on their school’s football field, to students dressing up in sumo wrestling Halloween costumes for a fun Halloween edition! They were all great and they were all entertaining. And let me tell you, the competition was fierce! Each school uploaded their video to our Willis Music Facebook page with their school name, director’s name, and what song they played. After that it was up to the schools, parents, students and teachers to share the video as much as possible! It was in the public’s hands! Whichever video they liked the best, they “liked” it and that counted as a vote. There was a battle for first place for a long time until the end when our winning school pulled ahead with 342 likes.

In case you missed the competition here are all of the video entries we received.

Reliey Elementary School Ukulele Club playing Yankee Doodle
Directed by: Lederrick Wesley

Casey County Beginning Band playing “Jaws”
Directed by: M Jordan Williams

Bellevue Band of Gold playing “Matador de Toros”
Directed by: Scott Reed

Wlliamsburg High School Concert Band playing “One Giant Leap”
Directed by: Kevin Lockwood

Western Hills Wolverine Marching Band playing Michael Jackon’s “Thriller”
Directed by: Stephanie Wallace

Conner High School Band playing the theme to Pirate’s of the Caribbean
Directed by: Chris Patterson

Turkeyfoot 7th Grade Band
Directed by: Jana Bromley

**Drum roll please** Here are the 2015 winners of the Battle of the School Bands competition:

The Casey County Beginning Band! Pictured from front to back are: Chase Clark who is one of our band reps, Director Jordan Williams, the Principal of Casey County Middle School, Joshua Blevins, and the students of the Casey County Beginning Band.

Great work everyone! They won a $500 Willis Music gift card!

Thank you to all of the bands who participated in our 2015 Battle of the School Bands Facebook competition! You all did great. Like us on Facebook at and Twitter at @WillisMusicCo to see upcoming competitions and maybe you could win!

Laura Barrowman

10 Tips to Improve Your Sax Playing


Musicians play music because we love it, but everyone has a beginning point and all of us work to improve our performances. Below are some easy ideas to make your time on a sax better & more fun!

Number 1: Post your fingering chart where you see it on a daily basis

For me, there are always one or two very high notes that I forget if they aren’t in the music pieces I am working on. I have posted my fingering chart by my bed and see it before I fall asleep at night. If you don’t have a fingering chart, buy one! They are small, inexpensive and readily available at most music stores.

Number 2: Wet your reed before you play

The first thing I do when I pull my case out is pop the reed I want to use in my mouth, and keep it there while I assemble my saxophone and sheet music. This helps your reed vibrate more efficiently right when you start playing.

Number 3: Pick a position and stay with it

Depending on who taught you to play the saxophone, you either hold your instrument between your legs or to the right side of your legs. There are merits to both methods, and it is completely personal preference. Try both methods, and then pick the one that you prefer. But either way, stick with it!

Changing your position constantly will hurt your ability to play. This is because you will be concentrating on how to reach that difficult fingering through a different hand position instead of a perfect vibrato or even tone. When you switch positions, the angles change. This changes everything!

Number 4: Posture

Remember when you first started classes or lessons, one of the first things you learned was to sit up straight? We’re back to basics for this tip. By sitting up straight, your diaphragm has more room to expand. This means the ability for longer and more powerful notes, and stronger vibrato and tone.

Number 5: Tighten your Ligature

Have you ever gotten that awful bubbly noise of water under your reed? It will completely destroy any piece you try to play, and sometimes it isn’t possible to stop in the middle of a piece. Turning your ligature joint an extra half turn can make all the difference in the world.

Number 6: Make sure your reed is the right level of hardness

Have you ever stopped playing for about a month, and you start to play with your favorite old reed, and you’re like “Wow! I don’t remember having to push this hard last time I played”? And that is because you didn’t! Your embouchure (the way you handle the mouthpiece and reed in your mouth or the muscles controlling those motions) has grown weaker over the month you’ve been away. On the flip side, if you’ve been playing more than usual your embouchure will have grown stronger. Make sure you get the strength of reed that corresponds with your strength for optimum tone!

Number 7: Use a neck strap

Using a neck strap, especially when you’re playing standing up, is crucial. Distributing the weight off of your thumbs enables your fingers to move more swiftly and efficiently.

Number 8: Cite-read a piece before you start learning it

There are special competitions for cite-reading, for both individuals and bands. Being able to look at a piece of music and run through it a few times, and then being able to play it fairly well shows musical prowess. Cite-reading sometimes, even if you don’t want to compete in it, is a great way to stretch your music reading muscles. I tend to cite-read a piece of music that I am going to learn to play, before I start breaking it down measure by measure. I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in my music reading ability since starting this. To top it off, once you get the hang of cite-reading it is really fun!

Number 9: Play in an area with good lighting

There is nothing worse than playing in an area with subpar lighting. You can’t see the notes right. Playing in the sunshine or in a well light area just improves your mood. I play below a window and have a lamp by the window for playing at night.

Number 10: Invest in high quality reeds

Have you ever had a reed splinter in your mouth? It hurts and tastes really awful. Since then, I have always purchased a higher quality reed. Originally it was to avoid another “Fantastical Exploding Reed” but my tone quality has improved so much. And please, none of those fiberglass reeds. Only reeds made of cane or other natural materials for better tone and control!

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Product Spotlight: Yamaha ARIUS Digital Piano

Whether you are looking for a piano to practice on or to use in performances, make the Yamaha ARIUS Digital Piano the instrument of choice for you!

Perfect for beginning and experienced players alike!
An authentic sound. A natural touch. And an absolute joy to play!

What more could you possibly want with a digital piano?

ARIUS Yamaha Digital Piano YDP-181

ARIUS Yamaha Digital Piano YDP-181

The Tone of a Yamaha concert grand piano.
The Graded Hammer Standard Action just like an acoustic piano.
The ability to interface with a variety of computers or mobile devices.
Premium key stability, response, and repetition.
Synthetic Ivory Keytops make the white keys easy to “grip.”

The entire Yamaha ARIUS series of digital pianos is superb, but today we are highlighting the YDP-181 model (pictured above in our showroom.)  This model is the best of the best! Here’s why:

  • It has 14 Voices! Experience the sounds of Strings, Electric Piano, Acoustic Guitar, and more.
  • It has a Full Control Panel!  You will have access to the features you need most within an arms reach as you play!
  • It has a LED Display!  Bad vision? No problem! This is clear & crisp, and shows you everything from tempo to transposition tools, and more!
  • It has 16cm speakers! Centemeters have never looked, or more important SOUNDED so good! These speakers deliver more bass for a full, powerful sound.

At Willis Music our team of associates are excited to share with you the benefits of owning such a fantastic instrument! Come visit the Willis Music store closest to you and experience the ARIUS digital pianos made by Yamaha. You will be glad you did!


Name Your Own Price????

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We hear it on the radio… “No reasonable offers refused”. Sounds too good to be true, but isn’t it worth a look? If you could get a great product at a price you name wouldn’t you be pumped?

Willis Music not only has the coolest, most current musical equipment in Louisville, we also have great used gear at killer prices. But maybe the price could be even more killer, huh? When you see the tag above on instruments in our store, that means we’re opening the door to you setting a price. We’ll do everything we can to meet your offer. If we aren’t able to take your offer, we’ll make a counter-offer so you know we’re 100% serious about giving you the very best deal around.

Look for Mr. Brando. Get great gear. Save some money.

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Free DVDs This Weekend!


Not much more to say… best prices in town on the coolest instruments from Orange, Gibson, EVH, Mesa/Boogie, Fender, Yamaha, Selmer, Blackstar, Mapex, Charvel, Gretsch, Martin and so many more AND a free DVD on top! Visit June 15-17 to take advantage!

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