The time and effort you put into playing is only a part of what makes your music so beautiful. If you don’t care for your instrument, you won’t reach your full potential. Here are five handy hints to keep your instrument in good working order, whatever you play.
1) Control the humidity
Different instruments need different levels of humidity. While it is important to keep your metal wind instruments and woodwind instruments in a stable, low-humidity environment, string instruments need to be kept humidified throughout the winter. If your voice is your instrument, you should be aware that dry and dusty environments can damage your vocal cords.
2) Know how often to clean your instrument
Not cleaning enough can leave damaging oils on your instrument, and cleaning too frequently can erode the material your instrument is made from. Regular polishing of a bare brass instrument keeps that lovely sheen and protects against tarnishing (which can lead to brass poisoning). However, buffing too often wears away the brass, so putting up with tarnished areas is a good way of maintaining the original thickness of the tubing. Lacquered brass instruments need a good coat of polish about once a year. But all wind instruments should be wiped after each use. String instruments should be wiped after each use, but rosining once a week should be enough for most players.
3) Pick the right cleaning materials
As a cello teacher once shouted, “NEVER USE HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS ON YOUR INSTRUMENT”. A clean, soft cloth will work for the wood of a bow (never touch the hairs) and the body of a string instrument. Tarni-shield is highly recommended for silver- and gold-plated brass instruments, but not on the mouthpiece! Use an “inside” cloth, and an “outside” for all wind instruments, this keeps the spit away from the outside, and the skin oils away from the inside. Delightful. A soft artist’s brush is good for the wooden parts of woodwind instruments, make sure to keep all polish on the metal hardware away from the wood. Regular water intake is the best for your voice.
4) Put your instrument away while not in use
Pinterest may be full of beautiful pictures of musical instruments as décor, but this is not good for the life of your instrument. Always keep your instrument in its case while not in use, and gently loosen your bow after playing a string instrument. The vocal equivalent of this is balancing periods of vocal demands with periods of vocal rest, and controlling unnecessary vocal loudness. Always check that the inside of your case and the felt of your trumpet stand have no sharp metal pieces that could scratch your instrument.
5) Control the temperature aka. Don’t leave your instrument in the car (or on the school bus)
Wood reacts to changes in temperature, so it is important to keep string and woodwind instruments away from heaters, air conditioners, and any extremes of temperature. Make sure you aren’t leaning your clarinet against your radiator.
Follow these five easy steps, and your instrument should give you a beautiful sound for years. Mundt Music of Longview, LLC is your local resource for all of your instrument care tips and needs. Come by and ask us your questions in person at 2312 Judson Rd. or give a call at 903-758-8872. Our staff will be happy to do everything that they can to help you keep your instrument working like new for many years to come.