Now that we are halfway throught the school year, it is important that we make sure that our instrument is still working just as well as when you first got it! The more you play, the more gunk can get built up inside. But don't worry, I'll teach you how to clean that out and prevent it from building up in the future. A little bit about me and my background, I'm Jacob and I am the Manager of the store here in Wayne. Before I came to Music and Arts, I graduated from Minnesota State College Southeast Technical in Red Wing with a Diploma in Band Instrument Repair. In this blog, I will tell you some tips and tricks to keep your instrument looking, and sounding great!
First we will start with some general care items. Always keep your instrument in its case or on an appropriate instrument stand when not in use. Most damage to the instrument occurs when you put it down for "just a second" to do something else. Speaking of cases, always double check your zippers/latches to make sure they are working. You would want your instrument to fall out of the case! Make sure that you aren't store anyhting, like books, on top of the instrument when its in the case. Putting a book on top will casue things to bend out of shape, or even snap off. We also want to make sure that we don't leave it in any extreme temperatures for a prolonged period of time. With wood instruments this is especially true. Fluxuations in temperatres may cause the wood to crack and split. and finally, never attempt any serious repairs yourself. Always bring it in to a Music and Arts store so that a certified repair technician can properly diagnose and fix any issues.
Lets jump into String instruments first! If you have a larger shoulder rest, like a Kun or Artino, avoid storing them in the case, unless there is a designated spot for it. If you do not have a spot in your case, we have small bags that clip onto the case to store the shoulder rest in. We want to eliminate the posibilituy of anything bouncing around in the case and damaging the instrument while the case is closed. Next up is a very simple, but very importnant thing. Make sure that you are always setting the instrument down string side up, even in the case. The bridge that holds the strings up, is not glued down. If it gets bumped or dropped the bridge can fall off. As long as it dont break in half, bring it into the store and we can get it reset for you. Never use commercial or household solvents on your instrument. Always use a polisher or cleaner from a music store. You will want to wipe off the rosin build up every two to four weeks, depending on how much rosin is deposited. Rosin, if left on the strings will deaden the sound and could even weaken the strings, causing them to break. Tuning a string instrument can be very tricky. If your teacher hasn't shown you how to tune, bring it to them, or a Music and Arts employee to tune it.
Next let's hop into the world of Woodwinds! First and foremost, make sure that when placing your instrument in its case after practicing that it fits all the correct indentations. You don't want to force it in and close the case. If you do, you can cause some serious damage to the instrument. If you play with a neck strap, make sure that you are removing it before you put it in the case for storage. This is just another step in preventing something from bending while in the case. If you play Saxophone, you should have a small plastic plug in your case. That is the end plug and should be placed where in the top of the body. The end plug helps prevent the octave key from bending in the case. Avoid eating or drinking sugary foods before playing. The sugars will stick to the inside of the instrument and could even grown mold on the pads if not cleaned. Always pull a dry, clean swab through your instrument after practicing. Any moisture left in the instrument can cause cracks or mildew to form on the pads and we definately don't want that! We also don't want to store the reed on the mouthpiece. It is much more likely to chip and break when stored on the mouthpiece. I would recommend getting a humidified reed case to store them in. This will not only prevent them from chips and breaks, they will last up to twice as long with proper humidity levels.
Finally, lets step into Brass instruments! Just like with string and woodwind instruments, make sure that your instrument is in the case correctly. Also make sure that you are draining any moisture from the instrument, via the water key. With brass instruments it is recommended that you get a professional cleaning done at least once per year. This will help keep the inside clean and working. If your mouthpiece gets stuck, DO NOT use pliers!! Bring it to your teacher or to a Music and Arts and we can remove it with the proper tooling. Bare brass will stick together over time so on places like your tuning slides, it is important to keep them greased and moving every couple of weeks. You shoud be oiling your valves/rotors/slide around 3 times a week and use the same oil every single time. Switching or mixing oils can cause a chemical reaction that will east away at the valves. Lastly, never try to take out any dents on your own at home, Always bring it to a certified technician.
If you have any questions about anything I wrote, please do not hesitate to call me, email me, or stop by and talk. I love talking to and meeting everyont that plays an instrument! Hope to see you soon! Happy Practicing