On 13th November, we had the opportunity to speak with Olivia Wild from Windology Music. In this interview, Liv discusses how she got involved in the music products industry, and introduces her latest venture.
The first part of this interview series can be found here, and part 2 can be found here.
It would be great to hear how you got involved in the music products industry, Liv…
When I left university, I was obviously looking for a job, like everybody else. I’d visited Howarth a few times as a student, and sort of got to know them a little bit. They were advertising for a single reed specialist role, so I went along and gave my CV to Stuart Middleton, the Saxophone Department Manager at the time. I started working for them in 2011 and was placed in the clarinet department from day one. I spent the majority of my time in the clarinet shop, gaining such knowledge, and building such a rapport with all these fantastic players. I’ve got to say, it’s been an absolute privilege.
The players that have called on me for advice over the years still surprises me. When principals of highest standard orchestras internationally come in saying; “Liv, I’ve got to play Eb Clarinet for this programme, and I just don’t know what to do!”. As a teenager, I spent hours listening to some of these top musicians, so when one day these players call and say; “Hi, could I speak to Olivia, please? I’ve been told that I should speak to her about mouthpieces”, it is a bit of a pleasant shock.
I also love seeing younger players progress. Ones who you might’ve seen just before they’ve had their first lesson, showing them how to put their instrument together, teaching them how to make that first few notes. Five years down the line they’re coming in, they’ve done several grades…you’re quite proud of it. It’s not a shop, it’s very much a nurturing environment. With adult learners, again there’s been people that have reached pension age and decided to take up the clarinet. A couple of years later they’re still happy and it’s just nice to see.
It’s such a joy to play such a massive part in facilitating someone else’s musical journey, and instruments are such a big part of that…
It really is. It’s never about the sales. It’s always about giving them the right thing and sorting them out, making sure that they’re on the right track. I’d rather not sell them anything, but help them instead.
Speaking of helping people, am I right in thinking that you have an exciting new project in the works?
I do have a new, exciting project. I’ve launched my woodwind and brass musical instrument specialist shop called Windology Music! I decided after years of being a woodwind specialist, it’s time to go home to Telford Shropshire and do it for myself.
I feel confident that I’m able to do what I have been doing, and take it to the West Midlands, where a dedicated music shop is actually quite sorely missed. There’s no one else in the area that is providing that service. In fact, we’re near to Shrewsbury, right by the border as you go into Wales so there’s another huge region of players. The experience I’ve had has shown me that there are a lot of players in this region that usually have to come down to London. If I can be nearer, and do what I have been doing for them, where they are, then that’s even better!
You’ll definitely be saving many people a long trip! Music being accessible is so important. Having a good music store where you can get good products and good advice is so important. It must be a factor for some people continuing playing, or whether they start playing at all?
It’s always about the conversation that you have, whether it be over the phone, or of course in-person is even better. For me, it’s about trying the product, as opposed to reading reviews. Of course there’s a strong emphasis online, particularly as we’re in a lockdown, but to have a destination to go to where you can get your hands on the physical products and see how it works for you – I think is like gold! It is much more useful than reading someone else’s review.
Exactly. Yes, every reviewer has their own valid opinions. But everyone has individual tastes & preferences. You just need to pick up an instrument and play it for yourself.
So, which instruments does your new store cater for?
It’s a woodwind and brass specialist, called Windology Music! We’ve got a physical shop based in Much Wenlock in Telford, Shropshire. We’re on a main road with easy access, and we’re very excited for people to come and see us, have a chat about our instruments, accessories and repairs. We’re also online and do offer UK and international shipping, which is very important with everything going on at the moment.
Do you have any specific highlights from the music products industry up to this point? (of course you’ll have plenty more with Windology Music, I’m sure!)
A big highlight for me has been to go to the NAMM Show a couple of times. I do love a good trade show because it’s an opportunity to spend time with people within the music industry. It’s such an eye opener, and you get so many different perspectives, not necessarily just from your area of the industry. It could be electronics, drums or pro-light and sound –a huge wealth of experience. It’s nice to be around other people, and to hear them tell stories that sound similar to your own.
The scale of the show itself is very impressive!
Yes, get a good pair of walking boots on for NAMM – you’re going to need them! I was there the year that Stevie Wonder had gone into the lobby of the Hilton during a Sound Stage Session and said; “Oh, you’re playing my song. Let’s sing it together!”. This poor bloke on the stage at the Hilton! Another person I saw at the Hilton was Cory Henry, if you’ve heard of him?
Yes! I’ve seen him perform at the Royal Albert Hall, just incredible!
Well, I got to meet him! At the end of his set, I sort of pushed to the front. I was like, I need a selfie with you! I also went the Jazz Jam that Franck [Bichon of BG France] hosts, and Gordon Goodwin was playing, that’s a big highlight for me. I’ve met him several times now, and he’s an absolute hero. I’ve grown up listening to his music, so to meet him in person and actually have a chat! There are so many people floating around that you know the name of, but not necessarily recognise in a crowded room. There was a phenomenal saxophonist on stage at the Jazz Jam, he’d just come to the end of his set, and compare said; “Thanks Gerald Albright, that was amazing!”, and you’re thinking “Oh!”
That’s why he was amazing, haha! I think those highlights would be a good place to finish, so thank you so much for your time, Liv – it’s been lovely to speak with you!
Get Involved in ‘Behind the Lyre’
Would you be interested in sharing some of your experience working within or with a military or marching band? If so, we would love the opportunity to speak with you.
We’re looking for people from all countries, of all ages and abilities, who play all sorts of instruments! We’re also looking for those who are a little further behind the lyre. This includes educators, directors, agents responsible for sourcing musical instruments, the instrument manufacturers themselves, and many more. We would love to share your important role in military and marching music with the rest of our community.
To find out more, or to schedule an interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.