Taking good care of a band or orchestra instrument is important in maintaining the quality of sound that the student’s instrument will produce. Some experienced repair persons shared a few “Do’s & Don’ts” for young musicians to remember for instrument care.
Tony Swisher, an orchestra repair technician for fifteen years, shares these reminders for students:
Do wash hands before playing, in order to keep any residue from settling on the stringed instrument.
Do remember to loosen the bow after playing in class or after practicing at home.
Do tune the instrument using the “fine tuners” (screws) rather than the pegs.
Do ask the teacher to help tune the instrument in order to prevent over-tightening the strings, which could lead to string breakage.
Do clean the wooden surface of the stringed instrument with a slightly damp paper towel, followed by a dry paper towel or a soft cleaning cloth for the wood.
Do contact an experienced strings repair person if deep cleaning or other repairs are needed.
Don’t use any substance such as alcohol to clean the instrument.
Don’t place the instrument in the case with the shoulder rest attached.
Don’t place any items in the case on top of the strings, such as a music book.
Woodwind and brass instruments also require some special care to maintain their quality. Tom Julstrom, who specializes in woodwinds and some brass repair, shares a few “Do’s & Don’ts” for their care:
Do rinse mouth or brush teeth prior to playing a reed instrument or a brass instrument to help maintain the cleanliness of the mouthpiece. A special mouthpiece brush may be used for cleaning after playing in class or practicing at home.
Do clean the instrument after playing, using a swab to remove any saliva within the instrument.
Do wipe the exterior of the instrument, using a clean soft cloth, while being very careful of pads, keys, and/or valves. Special cloths are available for both wooden and brass surfaces.
Don’t eat immediately prior to playing a reed or brass instrument in order to avoid any food residue getting inside the instrument.
Don’t store anything, such as a music book, on top of the instrument in the case.
Don’t use pliers or any other tool to adjust instrument. Consult an experienced repair person to handle any needed repairs.
Don’t immerse instrument in water to clean, for pads, keys, and valves can be damaged.
Students should be reminded of these tips as they pursue their music education, either in band or orchestra. Parents can be of great help, as well, if they are aware of these few simple tips for maintaining the instruments their students have selected to play.
Additional information regarding care and maintenance of band and orchestra instruments is available via the repair department at any of our three Meyer Music locations.