Print Review: Royal Academy of Music Summer Programme 2018

Those who know me reasonably well may recall one of the key moments I got into blogging about classical music. If you don’t, let me explain. 

Printer Ink Numbs The Pain

Back in 2007 I fell off my back heading into work one day. I broke my elbow. I felt very sorry for myself. I was signed off work for three weeks. I was bored shitless. Scooch had won the UK selection for the 2007 Eurovision (a dark moment in BBC TV history) and I had the brochure for the forthcoming BBC Proms season to flick through.

The smell of the Proms brochure dulled the pain in my elbow somewhat. That’s when I thought it might be fun to record a short video about that very thing. Anything to counter the hours of boredom.

It seems incredible it was over 10 years ago now. It always seems incredible to recall that at the time nobody really talked about the Proms, hence the repeated line pointing out that every single concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

The BBC Proms won’t have that, obviously. The Proms has always been a big deal. But the wider audience – the people I worked with at the time (at the BBC, doncha know), friends of mind, former colleagues in other organisations didn’t know what it was. How things have changed.

Complete transparency

Just this past week I visited the Royal Academy and met with a contact (I can’t claim to call him a friend – I think that might be a little presumptious) during which the conversation focussed on the conservatoire’s most recent piece of print (which I complimented him on – even though I’m not entirely sure whether he was responsible for it). This then led on to him saying, “You should do a comparison of classical music print on your blog, Jon.”

And because I’m a vulture, shameless in the way I vacuum up other people’s ideas and pass them off as my own (usually), I figured I’d start on that long and in-way-arduous task of reviewing each piece of classical music print I come across. And then score it. And then come up with an uber-table of who has done good and who needs to do better.

So, first off. The Royal Academy of Music’s Summer 2018 programme. They’ve set the bar high with a cracking 77%. Will the BBC Proms (out next week on Thursday 19 April) beat them? 

Smell ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Cover (weight) ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Cover (feel) ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Initial impact (colour, weight, smell, feel)  ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
Inside pages (feel) ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Inside pages (layout & content) ★★★★★★★★★☆
Easily accessible information ★★★★★★★★★★
TOTAL (%) 54/70 (77%)


Deceptive this one. It’s not actually the cover or the shiny pages inside that brings out the smell, but the listings insert in the middle. 

Lots of names of artists – slightly difficult to read because its a greeny-cream colour set against bright pink. But I like the pink. It makes the logo for the Royal Academy of Music pop. Are there more than two typefaces on the cover? I always thought more than two typefaces was a bad thing.

Inside pages (layout & content)
I’m giving this a 9/10 because I adore the contrast between the sharp typefaces and the bright white paper. Red marks out the important information and event taxonomy. I love the strict adherence to pages laid out in blocks. The imagery isn’t too wanky (only one hand on the chin pic – so that’s OK), though I don’t see any black faces. The picture of Daniel Hope on page 25 reminds me of the hairdresser in 7 Year Switch. Also, I would never have thought to combine bright pink with red – works. Clear, unfussy, and informative.

Additional Notes
I love the RAM’s typeface – heritage without being too flouncy or self-absorbed. I especially like the handy ‘at a glance’ list in the middle of the publication.


The Royal Academy of Music's Summer Programme starts on Monday 16 April. More details on their website. 

The Thoroughly Good Blog is an independent blog celebrating classical music and the arts. Please consider supporting its development in 2018 by giving a donation using this PayPal.Me link.

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