My name is Alphonso Archer. I am a piano, guitar and drum teacher based in Calne Wiltshire, UK.
As a child I was taught to practise guitar in front of a mirror so that I would be able to see the way I was holding the instrument, the position of my hands, fingers and posture. I was therefore able to make the finer adjustments that I could remember my teacher pointing out to me.
To access a mirror in a house with 6 other children sharing only a few rooms was challenging but I managed it sometimes if it meant sitting in front of a dresser until my sister moved me on or borrowing the bathroom mirror and perching somewhere that was convenient.
Roll-on twenty odd years and I have had adhoc lessons with some great guitarists including flamenco, jazz and classical teachers. This includes being lucky enough to have had some lessons with esteemed classical guitarist Carlos Bonnell who actively encourages his students to use a mirror.
I now teach music actively in schools, colleges and privately and like my teachers of old have always recommended the use of a mirror to all my pupils and never thought much beyond that until around 3 years ago. Working with a technically very competent player who was having some chord transition challenges, I asked him why he was not using a mirror as recommended. His response caused a huge light bulb to switch on in me. He, and all my other students were not actively using a mirror because they were probably not regularly in front of one or got bored with the routine of finding a ‘spare’ mirror and setting it up for practice. Hence the idea of Muso Mirror was born.
After several home made prototypes I developed my first commercial version from extremely strong gooseneck clips sourced from China and a mirror in-a-frame assembled in the UK. This has up until recently been the staple Muso Mirror which has seen sales in the UK, US, France, Italy, Canada and Denmark. Muso Mirror was featured in Guitar World Magazine who described it as ‘disarmingly simple’. I actually thought that I was being ‘disarmingly simple’ to think that anyone would buy one but they have and I’ve some amazing feedback which help fuel my dream to launch the product on a larger commercial scale.
This dream was kicked further into action when I attended the Music & Drama Education Expo in London in 2016 and got a lot of enquiries with the prototype I ‘touted’ around to canvass professional opinion. This gave me confidence to attend the Frankfurt Musikmesse the second largest music show in the world. The reaction was similar so I knew it was time to get serious. A few approaches from potential competitors was the final impetus.
Roll-on November 2016 when one of my pupils, Rick O’Shea who loves using the mirror asked me what was I doing about making this product known to the world. I told him the story many inventors must have spouted about exorbitant quotes for prototyping and manufacturing, endless local business seminars with very little to help me move things at pace I wanted it to go at. Then the break though came with a recommendation from Rick for me to contact a friend and business acquaintance John Jackett who is owner, director and inventor at Altex Engineering in Calne, Wiltshire.
The meeting with John in his board room felt like an audition for Dragon’s Den without any of the pressure, just a very kind, quiet and considerate man who allowed me to enthuse passionately about guitar, the challenges of learning the instrument and the problems that Muso Mirror solves. After giving John an impromptu guitar lesson the partnership was born with a simple, let’s do it and the story continues as you now read this article.
The next major phase in the journey is now a dedicated stand at Music & Drama Education Expo on 9th & 10th February 2017 hopefully followed by Frankfurt Musikmesse and NAAM in the US. Crowd Funding options are currently being considered in addition to the usual social media campaigns.
Before I sign-out I must share this story with you about the problem that Muso Mirror helps to solve. I was teaching today (3rd February 2017) at a School in Calne, Wiltshire and I kept reminding one of my recent pupils to look ahead into the mirror because he was really craning his neck to see his fingers. After correcting the posture I helped him with, he said that he suffered really bad neck pain when he was practising. Even though you impart good advice, if a mirror is not easily available the pain of practising is silently endured. Many guitarists get through it but equally many give up because it just seems so hard. I went full time teaching guitar and piano and put my full guitar order book down to Muso Mirror making the learning of the guitar so much easier.
One of my next strap line advertisements will be something along the lines of ;Helping to Make Practising Less of A Pain In the Neck!’
If you have read this to the end, many thanks for your support.