Hogan Music Blog

Learn to Play Day

Learn to Play Weekend is a national event for adults and children organised by the Music for All charity to inspire new, or lapsed, musicians of all ages to take up or restart playing an instrument.

This year Hogan Music has teamed up with Park Way to offer you FREE music lessons on Saturday 12th March and Sunday 13th March. This is the ideal opportunity to try out a new instrument or get back into playing. Come along on the day or book a slot in now – we will be offering a range of instruments from guitars, drums, ukulele and piano.

Venue details: Park Way, Newbury RG14 1AY

 Full details of all the 2016 National Learn To Play Day events and participating venues can be found at


Music for life

Music has been a popular part of our culture for thousands of years. It has been used as a powerful tool to express and evoke emotions, connect with others, or simply for our own personal pleasure.

When you become a musician of any kind, you become part of a bigger community, it helps you establish new relationships and expand your social circle. What could be better than making music with new friends?

Like most activities and hobbies, playing music can relieve stress and help you forget about the worries of everyday life. This escapism is similar to reading a book; playing music can transport you to another place or time and help to relax your mind. As Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks”.   Slow paced music is often used in relaxation therapies as it has a proven beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Over a quarter of the UK population already play a musical instrument, and almost one in five of us describe music as our main hobby. With so many people enjoying creating music and all the benefits that go along with it, is it time you gave it a go?

When asked for advice on the best way to start a musical hobby, Patrick Hogan from Hogan Music responded, “Getting started with music couldn’t be more simple; you can rent an instrument for less than £10 per month and take advantage of free taster lessons on most instruments, making it easy for you to decide which instrument suits you best. Get advice from people who already enjoy music, research the internet for local clubs and bands or just pop in store and have a chat with a helpful, friendly member of our team.”

Hogan Music’s 4 storey premises offer one of the largest ranges of instruments in store, instrument rental schemes, teaching rooms and a state of the art recording studio. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

Hogan Music, Winchcombe House, 123 – 126 Bartholomew St, Newbury RG14 5BN. Tel: 01635 37868. Web:

Music in Schools

Music in Schools

Music is an important part of the UK curriculum, with it becoming increasingly popular as a GCSE choice alongside the compulsory subjects such as Maths, English and Science.

Past surveys have indicated that children who attend an independent school are more likely to choose Music as a GCSE (10.7%) compared with those who attend a comprehensive school (6.7%). There has also been extensive research into the benefits that listening to music has on an IQ – and therefore grades.

Hogan Music have been an integral part of the independent schools music community for years and work in partnership to actively encourage access to music. This work has included supporting schools with repairs and sourcing the most appropriate, cost effective instruments. Most recently Hogan Music have helped a local independent school equip each of their dormitories with pianos.

In a bid to make music accessible to all Hogan Music have designed a programme of in-school tuition for students. Patrick Hogan says “Our in-school tuition is much more convenient for students who just don’t have the time to pop down the shop. The service is also excellent for those who are boarding and would like to take up music as a hobby in their spare time. We are totally open to tailoring our services to meet any musical needs of local schools”

For those students wanting to specialise in the technical aspects of music Hogan Music have been working with local schools to give students time in their recording studios using state of the art recording equipment to produce music as part of their course work. The studio has also been used as a venue for local school choirs and bands to record their work, really placing Hogan Music as the hub for ‘all things music’ in West Berkshire.

To find out more about what Hogan Music can do for your students, visit their premises at 123-126 Bartholomew Street, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5BN and speak to one of their friendly team.

Flute and Veg?!

Some say music is food for the soul… but could it also be the key ingredient to ensure that your plants flourish? Some have taken this saying quite literally by converting their vegetables in to instruments!

If you cultivate vegetables, you could become one of the ever-growing numbers of people who are using vegetables as instruments! Formed in 1998, members of the Vegetable Orchestra exclusively play vegetables – everything from a carrot flute to a pumpkin drum. The Vegetable Orchestra carve out their instruments before every performance.

They aren’t alone with their unique hobby; upon searching for ‘vegetable musicians’ the internet produces thousands of results of bands and musicians that use vegetables. There is even a website specifically dedicated to Carrot Musicians!

Patrick Hogan from Hogan Music says “We are very open minded about the multitude of instruments available, vegetable instruments sound great fun, but I don’t think we will be moving from traditional instruments and tuition.”

The effect of sound, especially music, on plant growth has been a focus of many studies. Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose, an Indian plant physiologist and physicist, spent a lifetime researching and studying the various environmental responses of plants and concluded that plants react to the attitude with which they were nurtured. He also proved that plants, just like human beings, are sensitive to external environment such as light, cold, heat and noise. It was discovered that if seeds were fed with music and were later germinated, it produced plants with more leaves, and greater size.

A Vineyard, Paradiso di Frassinain in Tuscany, uses classical music to get better production from its vineyards. The project started in 2001 as an ecological way to keep pests away. However, when they saw improved fruits, the project continued as a ‘productivity tool’.

You can read more on the research and on the pioneers who undertook the experiments at ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.

It turns out it could be worth considering a music system for your greenhouse, allotment or garden!

Early Learning

Baby sensory groups are becoming more and more popular with infants and mothers alike.

More recently there has been extensive research into the benefits of music and sounds on babies and toddlers. Findings concluded that one-year-old babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music, compared with their peers who are not introduced to music in this way.

Dr. Lin Day, the founder of Baby Sensory, says “A sensory environment rich in sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures promotes brain growth, increases the capacity for intellectual development, and forms the foundation for all future learning”

As children grow they start to experience music in different ways, discovering their own personal music ideals and tastes. Music is an important part of early education and is provided in varying degrees in most schools for ages 5-14.

Hogan Music in conjunction with Berkshire Music Hub are able to help those schools where music provision is not as well catered for. They can provide a full, varied and high quality music education for all children and young people and local schools in West Berkshire from learning to play, to owning and maintaining their own instruments, covering all music genres from classical to contemporary modern.

Patrick Hogan says “Our vision is to make music accessible to all, through a great range of quality instruments fully backed by accessories and after sale support such as set up and repairs and tuition.”

The premises in Bartholomew Street, Newbury, offers fully equipped teaching rooms and experienced tutors who can provide outreach classes.

Back to School…Can music help to get better grades?

Want to feel more attentive this school year, less scattered and more energised? Perhaps the answer is as close as your favourite music. Patrick Hogan of ‘Hogan Music’ has always found that listening to his favourite music can help focus his mind!

However this is not just Patrick’s opinion, one of the most cited studies is the “Mozart effect”. The study indicated that listening to Mozart’s music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks, improving your ability to strike up long-term, more abstract solutions to logical problems.

However further studies have shown that apparently Mozart does not stand in isolation, listening to your own personal favourite music can help in relaxing your mind and enable you to better connect to a part of your brain known as the Default Mode Network, disconnecting you from the outside world and its distractions and enabling students to focus on their school work.

But it does not stop there; further studies have found correlations between musical training and the improvement of executive function in both children and adults. Albert Einstein started playing the violin at 6 years old and once said “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

Patrick goes on to say that “whilst listening to music or learning to play a musical instrument in isolation may not make you smarter, the theory would seem to be that music can help you optimise your natural skills and help you focus more clearly, standing you in good stead when you go back to school. Hogan Music is set up to offer student’s access to the benefits of music whether this is hiring, purchasing or learning to play an instrument.”

So could music be the perfect solution for studying, doing homework or cramming for an examination? You won’t know until you try!

Hogan Music, Winchcombe House, 123 – 126 Bartholomew St, Newbury RG14 5BN. Tel: 01635 37868. Web:

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