Wise words from Victor de Freitas - owner of MUSICRAFT:
v The handling of your instrument is probably the most important factor in keeping it from damage. This may sound simple and obvious, but don’t drop your instrument and don’t bump it into anything. Virtually everything in the natural universe is harder than a band instrument.
v It is important to handle your instrument with care and patience. Do not handle it roughly. Proper care of your instrument will result in better sound, and easier tone production and tuning. Investing just a minute or two of care after each use will help ensure top performance.
v The safest place to keep your instrument after playing is in it’s case, even when having rests or breaks during band practice. Don’t leave them resting on chairs, or laying on top of their cases. Also, it is important to learn how to take your instrument in and out of the case properly, especially in woodwinds, to avoid bending keys and fragile parts.
v Close the case latches securely when you put your instrument away. That way it won’t open and spill out when you pick up the case. You may think this sounds obvious.. we see it happening over and over
v Music method books, flip folders and other “necessities” jammed into the instrument case can do plenty of damage. Avoid pressure been put on your instrument. Find alternative methods of carrying music supplies.
v Never allow anyone who has no experience with handling your instrument, to handle it whilst you are not around.
v Never leave your instrument in cars in hot weather, or directly in the sun, close to heaters etc.. this causes the wool felt ( centre layer ) of pads to expand and loose their ‘ seat’ on the tone holes.
v Take the greatest care when you are handling your own instrument! accidents happen easily! BE ON GUARD!
§ Take 3 minutes after practicing at home to dry your instrument thoroughly, WIPE your instrument with a soft cloth to remove all sweat left from your hands.( do not use any compounds or polishers)
§ Make sure to do your maintenance near a safe place, ie. On your lap to prevent instrument from falling.
§ Correct assembly and dis-assembly of woodwind instruments is necessary to avoid damage to the keywork and alignment. Even one slightly bent key can make notes unplayable.
§ Make sure your cork tenons (sockets) are greased clarinets & oboe so the next time you assemble your instrument for band practice, there’s no difficulty putting your joints together. Dry cork tenons will wear your instrument gradually.
§ Moisture cannot be avoided as it is a product of blowing into the horn. Avoid playing outdoors in the rain or in the shower. Proper use of a swab ( pull - thru ) will get the majority of the moisture out of the instrument after playing. Hence, the pads won’t expand and you won’t experience the growth of strange looking stuff inside your horn.
§ Wiping inside the barrel & tenons ( sockets ) with a damp cloth will keep them clean. On saxophones, check the neck cork and clean the neck periodically. A swab pulled through ( from large to small ) works well.
§ Most flutes are made of silver or nickle silver, which are usually silver plated. Flutes tarnish from acid in the fingers and hands, and from the moisture in a player’s breath. After playing, carefully wipe with a pure cotton cloth, and the bore swabbed out. Take care not to rub against the pad edges while cleaning the surface of the flute body, as it will cause pads to wear and affect the key closures. Never leave moist swab ( pull - thru ) inside the flute case with the flute inside. Pad rot will occur - a black discolouring on pads.
§ Brass Instruments should be taken apart periodically, all working parts thoroughly rinsed in lukewarm/mild soapy water. Dried properly and then lubricated while reassembling.
§ Oiling Valves is ESSENTIAL, it is impossible to over - oil a piston. If you wait until a valve feels sticky or sluggish to oil it, you’ve waited too long. Ideally, piston valves should be oiled AFTER each playing.
§ A brass instrument never dries out inside. The mild acids, albumen and food particles in saliva cause corrosion and galvanization of the pistons and casings while the instrument is in the case. Application of oil after use displaces the saliva and coats the parts. It’s not how much oil you use, it’s how often you use it.
§ Brasswinds are either lacquered or silver plated. For lacquered finishes, use a soft cloth to wipe finger prints and oils off the instrument. A little bit of furniture polish or glass cleaner once a week will help keep finish clear.
§ Never use abrasives of any kind, such as brass polish. Only use patented silver polishing cloths on silverplated instruments, although use them sparingly. If you use a liquid or cream polish, make sure it is only for silver, not multiple metals.
§ Trombone Slides are unique and often misunderstood. Proper cleaning and lubrication are necessary to maintain smooth action. Generally , oil is included with entry level trombone outfits. Oil is the ideal lubricant for valves, but not very effective for trombone hand slides. Commercial slide “creams” ( similar to Ponds cold cream ) are far superior to oil.
§ If you use slide cream, you’ll also need a small spray bottle of water. A very small amount of cream needs to be distributed on the inner slide tubes. After applying, water is sprayed on. The cream causes the water to bead up, and the outer slide slips across the water beads with very little friction. As the slide begins to feel slower, spray on more water. the proper amount of cream is no more than the size of an eraser on a new pencil. Cream does not lube the slide, rather, the reaction of the water to a thin film of cream causes the slide to glide. NB, when it comes to trombone slide cream, more is not better !