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Curt is back from Beijing!

Today is my first day back after 20 days in China. I've been to China many times now and I every time I go, I'm more impressed with the people, culture and the great work that comes out China. It's really an amazing place. If you ever get a chance to go, or you want to attend any of the clinics or trade shows that does, just let me know and I'll do what I can to help. I owe this trip and a lot of my work in China to my good friends at Tenon. Tenon is the company that makes the Chateau saxophones.

This trip was different than some of my trips in that I shared my travels with Lucas from Red Wing repair school. Sending Lucas really shows how progressive and open minded Red Wing is. It was an honor to have so much talent traveling around with me.

Before the trip began, we had Lucas in the shop here in Wilmington. Lucas took time to share ideas, learn from and teach the guys in the Sax ProShop. The guys at the ProShop went out to dinner with Lucas and I stayed home to have a final supper with my family before the long trip.

When we arrived in China, a friend of mine met us at the Airport and brought us to our hotel. You might remember from an earlier blog that some people saved me when I took the wrong train on my last trip to Beijing. It's nice that I'm starting to have a group of friends in China; the kindness of Chinese people never ceases to amaze me. The second day, set up for the Beijing show began.

I met the guys from Chateau one of which is a cool guy named Snow, whom I call Monk because he looks like a Monk. Monk is Chinese and continually saves us from mishaps with his knowledge of customs and culture. Every night including this first night, the meals are amazing. No matter where we eat, on the street or in a fancy restaurant, the food is simply the best I've had in the world. So, when i say we went out to Eat, you know that's a huge understatement.

With the booth set up at the China International Exhibition Center, we started the show. The show was amazing and more attended than I would have guessed. Interestingly we ran into some crime at the show. Apparently, this year a group came through the show stealing cellphones, bags and products. I've never seen anything like it at any show in china or anywhere. They got my Iphone and a bunch of tools. In total they took 4 phones, an Ipad and a bunch of money from our booth. Oh, and we got some counterfeit money that was really well made. I still wonder what a bunch of criminals want a tone hole file set for but I think that clearly proves that our JS Tone Hole File set is world renowned. Without a phone I quickly purchased my cool new Chinese phone.

Aside from the robberies, the show was a success. We were able to show our tools and techniques to many repairers in China. It's already apparent that's presence in China is bringing up the level of repairs. Many of the attendees already knew about our products and had seen the videos. This is a far cry from my first trip to Shanghai where it seemed there was no repairs happening at all.

After the show we started our tour of clinics. The clinicians were Lucas Pemberton from Red Wing, teaching brass repair, Jeffery Guo of Guo Flutes, talking about the construction of his amazing flutes and talking about flute repair and acoustics, and myself talking about woodwind repair. The guys from Chateau came with us and helped us. Ron, one of the owners of Chateau, was translating the clinics for Lucas and I.

Every day we gave a clinics and met repairers in different areas. Clinics were in Beijing, Chendu and Changsha. All great cities and great people. I've been to Beijing before but Chengdu and Changsha were a real treat.

After the clinics we went to visit factories. Mostly we toured Clarinet factories but we also saw some brass and saxophone factories. There is some really great, and some not-so-great work happening in China. I now know who makes the best clarinets and flutes... We found a couple small production factories who's work was fairly exceptional. At the ProShop, we're considering using this knowledge to offer excellent, low priced, horns to our customers. Maybe a doublers instrument. I'll keep you posted about that. We also visited an amazing manufacturer who makes only screws and rods for woodwind instruments. We'll see where all this goes. The goal of the factory visits was to learn and help not to find vendors. However, when you find someone doing something exceptional, it's hard not to want to buy what they are making.

We also visited a town during the factory tours called Music Town. All the light poles were painted to look like clarinets and there were little musician statues everywhere.

After the factory tours, I had a day in Beijing to relax before the long trip home. I ate as much street food as i could and tried to get as much Chinese culture as I could before my trip home. It was an amazing experience, as usual, and I can't wait to go back. I'll be returning to China for the Shanghai show in October and may make a trek over to Taiwan to visit some factories.