How do musicians get to orchestra?

Q: How do musicians get to orchestra? A: They pedal! A cartoon of a man on a bike, cycling along a music staff with the direction Ped. (pedal) written underneath him. Copyright belongs to Hannah Sterry (Sterry Cartoons).
How do musicians get to orchestra?

This cartoon is available on t-shirts, mugs, cushions and other gifts from the Sterry Cartoons Shop.

Silly  Methods of Musical Transport:

  1. Boat Bass

    Paddling to a gig in a fibreglass double bass. Apparently someone used to make fibreglass double basses in Salcombe, and they were perfectly fine if you used the body of the bass as a boat.

  2. Walking/Weightlifting

    Walking back from a gig with a very, very heavy keyboard because me and H had missed the last bus home and the taxi companies weren’t answering!


  3. Gigs on Transport!

    I have played a few jazz gigs on a ferry. We had to connect the keyboard up to a car battery for power and it was strange playing at any tempo that didn’t match the whirring of the engine, but it worked.

How to cope when you’re stuck on a First Great Western train for 10 hours

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by bristol lad
AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by bristol lad
First Great Western image by Bristol Lad

Last Sunday, I was one of the passengers stranded on the Penzance to London train. Luckily my boyfriend had remembered to bring Pass the Pigs, we amused ourselves by drawing temporarily invisible moustaches on pictures with magic pens (a brilliant birthday present from Anya of Total Monkery) and there was a ‘Stress Channel’ on the train radio, which we attempted to listen to without giggling. We felt extremely sorry for the poor man who was given the job of walking through every carriage to tell all 500 angry, frustrated passengers what was, or wasn’t, happening – it was his day off and he was just a passenger on the train.

Summary of things that went wrong:

  • No seat reservations due to computer failure.
  • Train stopped for 6 hours due to “Lack of air”.
  • All food and drink ran out after 2 hours.
  • Mechanics only arrived after 4 hours.
  • Toilets weren’t working properly.
  • Tannoy kept ‘ticking’ loudly at random intervals and announcements were generally unhelpful.
  • Over 100 people standing on train, not allowed to use spare seats in First Class without paying extra for upgrade (despite some of them having reserved seats in advance, but found them occupied due to the computer failure).

Things First Great Western did right:

  • Handed out compensation forms as soon as we arrived at the station.

Still, we got in to London Paddington Station feeling quite ratty and wondered why the Network Rail guys were allowed to stop the BBC News team from filming inside, when it’s quite clear that complaining at a camera makes British people feel so much better. Refunds also tend to make people feel much better, but I’m hoping that they won’t be as delayed as the trains.

To First Great Western, we suggest a name change to “Worst Late Stay-Southern”. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but after that experience it’s clear that having “First” and “Great” in the name is just false advertising and lies.

Ending on a happy note…

The thing that made me feel happiest once we finally got off the train, was being able to de-stress by playing the public pianos at St. Pancras International. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone could cope with me on low food for 6 hours (there’s a running joke that I turn in to ‘The Incredible Sulk’ if I get too hungry) and even once we got to Paddington Station I didn’t bother to eat after finding out that it cost almost £5 for a basic Cornish pasty, but I think the piano playing got me through. There’s no picture of me playing piano, but there is one of H, who deserves some sort of award for not running away when I’m in low-blood-sugar sulk mode.

Howard Kahn playing ragtime piano at St Pancras International Station.
Howard Kahn playing ragtime piano at St Pancras International Station.
Find out more about the public pianos at

If you happen to find one of the pianos (they’re in a selection of cities worldwide), go and have a play and enjoy! 🙂


EDIT: In fairness, once I contacted First Great Western’s customer service team via twitter after not hearing anything back for over a month, they were very polite and admitted that mistakes had been made regarding my compensation and sent out a full refund and two open First Class return tickets.

The Sterrys: Tuesday night is music night

Hannah and John Sterry from "The Sterrys" jazz trio.

The 25th of September marks the last Tuesday Night is Music Night of this year and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone at The Cottage Hotel, on behalf of The Sterrys, because we’ve had an amazing time.

It’s been great fun playing at The Cottage Hotel every week this summer and we’ve met some wonderful people, tasted some absolutely amazing food and really enjoyed playing to such a nice group of people.

Here are a few photos to sum up the wonderful time we’ve had here:

Having fun with the folk harp (sometimes accompanied by Joe on flute).

Harpist Hannah Sterry at The Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove.

Fundraising for Hope Cove Lifeboat out on the terrace.

I’m not sure how much we raised, but have been told it was a success!

Hannah and John from "The Sterrys" playing at The Cottage Hotel.

We even had time for a quick photo opportunity as the sun was setting!


In summary, we’ve had an absolutely amazing time with everyone who’s visited or worked at the hotel.

This is probably the best way to illustrate it:


Thank you to everyone who’s come and supported us,

I really hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have!

Best wishes,

Hannah Sterry

The Sterrys

Replacing Piano Bridle Straps

Piano Mechanism - Inside The Piano. Hammers, strings, tapes & keys...

New Clip-On Piano Tapes!

Today I spent some time replacing a few of the worn out tapes in our upright piano with clip on bridle straps (I found a relatively inexpensive full set of tapes here) after getting fed up with hitting ‘dead’ notes when trying to play.

Replacing the clip-on tapes was fairly simple and went something like this:

  1. Remove the old, worn-out tape.
  2. Clip the new tape on to the post just above the point where the previous tape was attached.
  3. Fiddly bit: twist the clip around so that the tape is coming from underneath the post and push it right to the back (the part furthest from you).
  4. Making sure that the tape isn’t twisted, bring it down to the right of the bridle wire and attach (use other straps in the piano as an example).

This diagram (found here) might help and shows the working parts of an upright piano mechanism. The part that needs replacing is part 20 (the bridle strap), which attaches to parts 18 (bridle wire) and the post between parts 24 and 25 (the back stop and hammer butt).

While the cover was off, I thought it would be nice to share a few pictures. When you see how much time, effort and skill it would take to create these instruments it makes you appreciate them even more.

Piano Mechanism - Inside The Piano. Hammers, strings, tapes & keys...

Upright Piano Mechanism Photography

Musical Updates

This is what my diary has looked like for the past few weeks:

7th May – Recorded some improvisations with Stephen Abrehart, just to see how the harp and baritone guitar worked together. The sounds mixed brilliantly and I hope we’ll be able to record a few more things together in the future.

10th May – Saw Ben Carr play at The Refectory Bar, sampled some delicious cocktails (the Apple Crumble cocktail was really good) and joined in with some jazz flute for the last few songs.

16th May – Jam night at the Royal Oak. This night featured Tez Locke, Phil Kennerel, Rob Wheeler, Joe Sterry (and me), Tom Carr and was hosted by Ben Carr. Past guests have included: Rob and Laura Williams, Gallows GhostBlue Orchid and Hamer & Isaacs Gypsy Swing Band.

19th May – The Sterrys (John, Joe and I) played music for a surprise birthday party in Malborough Baptist Church.

That afternoon we also went to the Cottage Hotel to discuss their plans for music throughout the summer, which led to this:

I am delighted to say that from June 5th, The Sterrys will be playing at The Cottage Hotel every Tuesday throughout the summer. The line up will change week-to-week; one week might be solo piano, the next a jazz trio with flute and harp the week after that…

Anyway, we expect it’ll be a lot of fun and hope to see you there!

The Sterrys have a new website!

The Sterrys have a new website!

At the moment it’s just bare bones, but I’m really glad we’ve finally got something up! I’m hoping to get some good images from a photoshoot on Thursday, so it should be updated fairly soon.

I should probably mention that John (in the middle in the picture above) isn’t really that short, he’s just sat down at the piano. We really need some better pictures!

Anyway, here are a few of the tracks from the site:

Hope you like them and feel free to let us know what you think!

H xxx

Free Classical Sheet Music from the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)

I’ve just found out about the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP). They provide a brilliant website for finding free classical music scores and seem to just generally have a really good collaborative/community attitude. Here’s what they have to say on their website:

“We at the IMSLP believe that music should be something that is easily accessible for everyone. For this purpose we have created a music library to provide music scores free of charge to anyone with internet access, with several other projects in planning. IMSLP is also entirely collaborative, and all contributions are greatly welcome.”
I just thought it was a great project that you might like to know about. If you’re really keen you can even follow them on twitter (@imslp). Hope you find it helpful!
Featured image by Horia Varlan (CC BY 2.0)

Live Music at The Cottage Hotel

On the 1st January I’ll be in Hope Cove at The Cottage Hotel playing jazz flute with John (keyboard) and Joe (sax) as part of “The Sterry Family”.

If you’ve not been to The Cottage before, it’s a hotel with a stunning sea view, really good food and the people running it are lovely (they’re even nice to musicians!!!). I chose to go there for my birthday meal because the atmosphere and food is so good (the puddings are delicious too).

Picture from

Another day, another instrument…

Yesterday I played harp at The Cottage and it went down really well! I got to speak to some wonderful people afterwards about  and brought my dad and sister along to listen.

People tend to ask quite a few questions about the harp, because it’s a fairly modern design. This particular model is a Smartwood Harp and is much lighter than some of the more traditional designs, which makes it much more convenient for travelling with. Most importantly, I enjoy playing it and it sounds good (the low notes in particular have a wonderful warm rich sound). I’m tempted to add levers soon, as I am finding the standard modes a bit restrictive, but overall I’m very happy with it.

Jazz Sketch

This is just a little idea for a jazz tune. I’ll embed a better video once I’ve recorded it properly, but for now, here’s some real, rough-around-the-edges music:

Let me know if you like the sketch. I still don’t know whether uploading at this stage is a good idea. Most music isn’t seen at this sketchy, made-up-on-the-spot stage.

On another note, does anyone else look like a crazy fool when they’re playing piano? I seem to rock, grin madly and occasionally headbang (all unintentionally).