Whether you are using a personal, rented, or school owned instrument proper care is necessary to keep your instrument working well and sounding great. It is important to remember that musical instruments are not toys and can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. Please read through the following guidelines to help keep your instrument working in tip-top shape!
- Always take your instrument apart and put it away in the case after playing.
- Clean and care for your instrument often. (See specific guidelines below.) Mouthpieces should be cleaned weekly with soap and water at home.
- Never try to repair your instrument yourself! Take it to Mr. Whitlock or a repair shop–they are professionals trained to work with your instrument.
- Don’t chew gum or food right before you play- the food particles and sugar will build on the inside of your instrument and eventually affect its playability. (Rinse your mouth with water if you have just eaten before playing.)
- Avoid extremes in heat and humidity. Do not leave your instrument in the car for long periods of time.
- Be careful not to drop or dent your instrument. Even the smallest mishap could cause major damage to the key alignment, valve/slide movement, or intonation of your instrument.
- Swab your instrument after each time you play. Moisture built up in the instrument can affect the pads and cause them to break down more quickly. (Swabs can be purchased at any local music store.)
- Apply cork grease often and liberally. The parts of your instrument should easily slide together. (Cork grease can be purchased at any local music store.)
- Take care not to squeeze the keys and rods on your instrument while putting it together and taking it apart. They can bend and fall out of alignment. Carefully twist the pieces of your instrument to put them together or take them apart.
- Take your reed off after each time you play and store it in a reed case. You should always have 3 working reeds that you rotate between. (Vandoren Reeds are recommended and can be purchased at any local music store.)
- Oil and lubricate your valves and slides on a regular basis. You should own your own oil/grease. (Valve/Slide oil and grease can be purchased at any local music store.)
- When oiling your valves or greasing your slides be sure to only take one out at a time. This will help you keep track of them and avoid mixing them up.
- Always TWIST your mouthpiece onto your instrument. Pushing it on and making the “popping” sound will cause it to get stuck. If your mouthpiece becomes stuck take it to Mr. Whitlock so he may use the proper tool to remove it. NEVER try to remove your mouthpiece with household tools.
- Clean the inside of your instrument frequently. A “snake” can be purchased at local music stores to help scrub out the inside and the tubes can be flushed with warm water.
School Owned Instruments
- Make sure you have filled out and signed the Discovery Middle School Instrument Agreement Form. This form is our record that you are using the school instrument. If the instrument is lost or damaged due to misuse and neglect, it is the family’s responsibility to pay for the cost of the repair. However, many of our instruments are old and sometimes fall out of adjustment and accidents happen. In that case Discovery Middle School Band will take care of repair costs.
- You are still required to purchase all supplies necessary for your instrument from a local music store. Please check the Supplies/Materials Section in your Band Handbook for a list of what is required.
- Treat your school owned instrument as if it is yours and you personally paid for it. While you are using it, you are responsible for its care and maintenance. Also, please let Mr. Whitlock know immediately of anything is wrong with it.
With proper care, these instruments will last for many generations of Discover Band Members yet to come!