Change of attitude to instruments
Posted Today, 17:06
Cheap clothes and other goods are made in part or whole by automated processes which, while expensive to set up churn out so many items an hour that the cost per item becomes relatively trivial after a while. Machines can work twenty four hours a day, they don't have tea breaks or need space for a canteen or require wages. Seamstresses for cheap clothes are often based in countries with very low hourly wages and less regulation on hours worked and other working conditions.
Posted Today, 18:08
I think that the quality of entry level instruments has generally gone down, so it is probably not surprising that a lot of people are doing an upgrade before grade 8 rather than after. Quite a few of the current entry level flutes (e.g. the TJ Vivace, Packer models, TJ10x, Jupiter) lack the flexibility, articulation and colour palette that is required for grade 8. That said, there are a lot of people who do upgrade before it is necessary and before they have the skills to really select the instrument which best suits them. Upgrading too early can often lead to another upgrade or sideways move around grade 8 when the player discovers that e.g. the Miyazawa that they were told they had to have because Joe Bloggs in orchestra had one doesn't really suit them and they get on much better with a Powell or whatever. A poorly chosen upgrade instrument can end up being just as limiting as a starter instrument if it doesn't suit the player, and for that reason I generally discourage early upgrades.
I have on three occasions upgraded because my instrument was not capable of doing what was needed. The first was in 6th form when I switched from an old silver-plated Boosey and Hawkes flute which my teacher could no longer play (yes it was that bad!) to a borrowed silver tube Pearl. The B&H flute got condemned by the music service as being uneconomical to repair and maintain. I then had a period of a few years without a flute while I saved up to buy my own (the downside of having had county music service instruments). I got another Pearl but it was a downgrade from the one I'd had on loan because it was what I could afford. Returning to lessons 10+ years later the Pearl was fine to start with but then ended up needing to be replaced for two reasons: 1) the mechanism had worn out and it was needing to be fixed every couple of months and 2) the flute was not capable of the range of tonal colours I wanted (and wasn't for my teacher either). I upgraded to my current silver tube flute which I've had for around 8-10 years and I don't anticipate upgrading again, . With viola I upgraded from a starter Primavera model (sold as being suitable until grade 3-4) at around grade 7. At this point neither my teacher nor myself could get the desired response and tone quality out of the Primavera, and the bow had already been upgraded as an interim measure. My violin/viola teacher is conservatoire trained, plays professionally, has students who get into conservatoires themselves and has prepared students for exams right up to FRSM - so for her to be unable to get the desired sound from my viola really did suggest that the problem was the viola more than me. There was also a second issue that the Primavera was too large for me (it was a 15.5 inch, I now play a 15 inch) and this was restricting my vibrato and causing shoulder problems. My violin has never been upgraded (apart from the bow) and is unlikely to be.