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The joy of sax … 'stimulating, challenging, the ingredients you want in a love affair'

Charley and Colin Gavigan explore Colin's love for the saxophone, a passion which has been a challenge to pursue during lockdown, and pay a visit to his favourite shop in the West End, The Saxophone Shop.

Music has lived in Colin for well over 50 years. It has been a journey of exploration and discovery and 46 years ago he found ‘his instrument’, the saxophone.

Or maybe it was the sax that found him. For Colin it is now part of his identity, who he is. Meeting his psychological needs beyond just a form of entertainment, it is therapeutic, stimulating, challenging and all the ingredients you would want in a love affair.

 Colin Gavigan has been playing saxophone for nearly 50 years.
Colin Gavigan has been playing saxophone for nearly 50 years.

Lockdown has brought its own saxophonist trials. You can’t totally turn down a saxophone.

During lockdown Colin has been aware of his heightened inhibitions to fully practice for fear of encroaching on the lives of fellow tenement dwellers who would normally be working daytime.

Yeah, everyone says they love the saxophone but three hours plus a day of scales, arpeggios and the occasional tune, can wear thin with even the most supportive music lover.

'Befriended'

The sadness and loss of not being able to play with other musicians locally and overseas has been one of the biggest penances of COVID-19.

Back in April we were all set to go to New York, not just to lead our ‘Brave Your Day Brave Hearts’ clan up 6th Avenue in the Tartan Parade, but also reunite and have some hot sessions with musicians we have befriended over the past ten years.

From open air Saturday afternoon sessions in Washington Square Park to a variety of Lower East side dive bar jams that have welcomed us with open arms to play the universal language of music.

 Colin and Charley missed out on Tartan Day Parade, New York. Photo: Scottish Government
Colin and Charley missed out on Tartan Day Parade, New York. Photo: Scottish Government

 

So, thank you, Oliver Sacks, not ‘Sax’, for articulating what Colin feels and believes to be the power of music for people worldwide.

       'Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does – humans are a musical species'

       Oliver W Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and Brain

 

 Colin Gavigan and Ronnie Tennant chat about music and business.
Colin Gavigan and Ronnie Tennant chat about music and business.

 

Every player needs a music shop port of call to stock up on reeds, strings and sticks and to get a pulse of what’s going on musically in any city you find yourself.

Meet Glasgow’s Ronnie Tennant, not only a musical visionary but also a trombone and tuba player. In 1979, he opened Band Supplies in Yorkhill, as a family run business with his wife Anne and daughter Stephanie, to plug the gap with a music shop specialising in offering schools and the public top-quality brass, woodwind, strings, keyboards and guitars.

Five years ago, Ronnie added to his musical empire by opening Glasgow’s first specialist shop cunningly named ‘The Saxophone Shop’, on Blackie Street in Yorkhill, a three-minute walk from Kelvingrove Art Galleries.

Normally, Colin would have to travel to London if he wanted to buy professional standard saxophones or mouthpieces. These are not items he would usually buy mail order without trying.

 The Saxophone Shop in Yorkhill
The Saxophone Shop in Yorkhill

The beauty of the Saxophone Shop is that it offers a space to try out top of the range instruments and accessories whilst also catering for beginners with starter packs, rental schemes and the opportunity of one free online lesson.

This covers the needs of both professional and aspiring musicians right on their local doorstep.

What struck Colin when he met up with Ronnie was how he has adapted his business to meet the many challenges.

 

'Every player needs a music shop port of call to stock up on reeds, strings and sticks and to get a pulse of what’s going on musically in any city you find yourself.

'Meet Glasgow’s Ronnie Tennant, not only a musical visionary but also a trombone and tuba player.

'In 1979, he opened Band Supplies in Yorkhill, as a family run business with his wife Anne and daughter Stephanie, to plug the gap with a music shop specialising in offering schools and the public top-quality brass, woodwind, strings, keyboards and guitars'

 

Ronnie said the effect of COVID on trade ‘has been dramatic and business is not the same, it is different and has opened up new opportunities.’

Some people have been taking up the saxophone for the first time whilst established alto and tenor players have been buying the less common soprano and baritone saxophones in the pursuit of expanding their range.

The investment in a new website has meant online sales have rocketed and shipping has been as far flung as South America and Asia.

 Colin on sax in Charley and Colin's former studio office in The Hidden Lane.
Colin on sax in Charley and Colin's former studio office in The Hidden Lane.

Brave Your Day logo
Brave Your Day logo

 

Ronnie has pulled out all the stops to keep people playing and having the creative space to visit, browse and try out instruments safely all within the Government public health guidelines.

Colin was particularly intrigued by the new mouthpiece sanitation unit that resembled a deep fat fryer.

With regards to COVID and its effect on musicians Ronnie summed it up perfectly;

“People will always want to play instruments and people will always want to play instruments together. People will do anything to make music and make music together. From time immemorial people have made music.”

* To book a personal appointment or visit https://saxophoneshop.co.uk or go to https://www.bandsupplies.co.uk

 

 Charley and Colin Gavigan
Charley and Colin Gavigan

* Charley and Colin are therapeutic and leadership counsellors who set up a mental health practice, Brave Your Day, in 2017. For their podcast, search Brave Your Day to subscribe on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts and check out the range of The Big Light shows via their website. Apple www.apple.co/2JTadMz. Spotify https://sptfy.com/4T4a. Find out more about Brave Your Day here and The Big Light here.

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