Sally on Work Experience

Work Experience Diary, Spring 2012


     My first week with Spartan Press provided me with an overall view of the company, from the initial type setting process all the way through to the posting out of orders. Monday morning was spent with Pat in the printing room, it is here that the music goes from being digital to being a hard copy for the first time. Covers, sheets and parts are all printed separately and the important lesson was to print one first to check before doing printing large numbers. The covers are then creased down the middle to prevent the ink from cracking as they are then folded by hand and the music and parts inserted. With everything now in place the book can be stitched together usually with two staples, of accurate size in correspondence to the amount of pages in the book. The mechanical guillotine trims thae excess from the edges to provide the finishing touch before the collection of prints can be placed in the correct bulk storage place (of which there are many the pantry, pavilion or stables for example).

     Other mornings during the week where spent with Dave dealing within the sales side of Spartan, orders come through via email, telephone, the website and even fax. These have to be ‘pulled’ from the shelves (the computer system is very clever in the way it produces the list of titles in the same order as they will be found on the shelves, very helpful) before they are double checked and packaged up before being posted either at the lunch time collection (if the post van makes it) or sent to the post office at the end of the day. The fuller music side of the company works in a similar way and I got an insight into this when sorting stock and ‘pulling’ the amazon orders the following week.

     Auditing the titles on the shelves has to be done every so often, so that when books are pulled they can be done so quickly and efficiently, and it is also important for stock take so that the computer system is correct in saying how many copies of each piece of music there is. The woodwind section became my challenge and after a few afternoons it was all ordered correctly in alphabetical order (my alphabet has never been so quick) and the computer system now knew where each title was on the shelf, how many copies there were and that each was linked electronically to the correct category.

     A lot of my time was spent typesetting on Sibelius, although having used Sibelius before I found myself applying new techniques to create three volumes of violin and piano music entitled The Young Symphonist. Continuity was very important when doing this as each volume had to match; this was the key to providing a professional looking finish. During the initial stages of my first week I was collating pieces together to be included into each volume. The longest job of all was making each volume have the correct number of pages; this number had to be divisible by four, in order to be cost effective when printed on a sheet that provides four pages. Over the following week I begin produce a score that looked more and more like a piece that is nearer to being printed, with correct margin size, accurate stave size, dynamics and expressions carefully aligned and each slur at the correct angle (I became quite pickey of this by the end of the week, a habit passed on from Mark I think).

       It wasn’t all hard work though my first Saturday was spent doing a bit of sightseeing around Loch Ness including visiting the stunning views from Urquhart castle. The area around Strathmashie was also picturesque the Loch Laggan dam looked wonderful as the sun went down I also caught a few snaps of Ben Nevis too. The weather was still bright after a sun filled week that made lunch in the garden and football games in the evening possible, very rare for March. This became a complete contrast to the snow that appeared early in my second week, yes 20degrees and snow in the space of a week!!

     On reflection I have had a wonderful two weeks at Spartan, learning from people who are passionate about what they do has made learning and fitting in within their company so easy. I have learnt skills across many areas that will continue to be useful throughout my music degree and more importantly beyond.

Loch Ness

Loch Laggan

View from my window