Category Archives: Instrument care

Summer and the Practicing is Easy and Fun


summerblogpracticeSchool is out for the summer and activities now include fun with friends, summer vacations, and just lazing around in the sun. The last thing on your mind is practicing your instrument.

It understandable that the tendency is to relax all academics, including practicing your instrument. However, music is fun and enjoyable and not supposed to be a chore. You don’t have to follow as rigorous a practice schedule during the summer as you do when you are preparing for your band work. However, it is recommended that you still practice over the summer so you do not lose all the valuable accomplishments you have gained through your hard work during the school here.

Here are 8 practice tips that will still allow you to enjoy your summer but not neglect your instrument.

  1.  Keep it Fun.   Put away that band or competition piece and play songs and pieces that bring you joy and make you want to play. Or – try to teach yourself something new.
  2.  Keep your instrument out of the case so you can easily see it. When you are moved to play, the instrument is waiting for you.
  3. Reeds – keep a fresh supply handy.
  4. Don’t follow a strict schedule, just play when the moment moves you.
  5. Rainy day? Put away the electronic gadgets and make some music.
  6. Have an impromptu concert for your family and friends.
  7. Have a music party. Invite your friends to bring their musical instruments and have a jam session.
  8. Book a lesson over the summer. Many students continue to take lessons but instead of every week, maybe twice a month.

Interested in learning a new instrument? The summer is a great time to try something  new. Give me a call to see about the different woodwinds available or go to a music store and try it out to see if it is something you want to add to your musical skill set.

Follow these suggestions and when you return to school, you will be ready to take on new musical challenges and excel in your musical endeavors.

Have a safe and musical summer.

The Case of the Careless Clarinet

Keep your instruments out of the heat

Keep your instruments out of the heat

As the weather finally warms up, I want to remind you all to remember heat can have a detrimental effect on the functioning of musical instruments. The best place to store your instrument is in the case and out of the heat or extreme cold.

For example, I have read that in the summer when the temperature rises to 90 degrees, your car can reach 110 degrees in just 10 minutes with all the windows shut.

A few summers ago, a young student arrived at my house for her weekly lesson.  She had a student model clarinet, which was made of plastic.  The intermediate and professional models are made of   African black wood also know as Granadilla wood.

Each week as I greeted her at the door, I noticed her clarinet was always out of its case tucked under her arm like a baton.

One attribute of the clarinet that makes it a more challenging instrument is that it is an open hole instrument. This means most of the holes have a ring over them that when pushed down cause the other keys to function.  The finger tips have to close the holes in order to create the notes as opposed to the saxophone, which is a  brass closed hole instrument,  because it has solid  keys that you press with your fingers to produce the notes.

Other examples of open hole instruments are the flute and the bassoon.

As each week passed, instead of my young student gaining more control over those open holes, she seemed to be getting less and less sound until she reached a point where no sound was being produced at all.

In my attempt to figure out how to help her, I noticed that her clarinet was looking odd.  None of the rings matched where the holes were, and they were somewhat elongated and the instrument was misshapen.  Closer inspection revealed that the instrument had melted as if it were in a Salvador Dali painting.   I tried playing her instrument and I couldn’t produce a sound.

That’s when I asked her, “Where do you store your clarinet? “  Her reply was “I keep it in the car, in the back where the speakers are outside of the case”

As we say farewell to the winter and move into the spring, just a reminder, temperature changes affect everything especially musical instruments.  Take care to store them properly and they will give you many years of service and enjoyment.