WOODWIND CARE & MAINTENANCE
Woodwinds can be very finicky because they have a lot of moving parts, keys, screws, etc. However, regular care and maintenance is VERY easy and can help prevent major issues with your instrument.
If your child plays clarinet, saxophone, oboe, or bassoon, their instrument uses a reed. The reed is quite possibly the most important part of their instrument - Good reeds support good sounds. Bad reeds cause bad sounds! In 2017, Dr. Shelley Jagow (professor of saxophone at WSU and a professional Vandoren clinician) completed a research project with beginning band students at Coy MS in which she studied the effects of different reeds and mouthpieces on tone production. You can click HERE to read about her findings and hear the difference between good and bad reeds and/or mouthpieces - it is incredibly noticeable when a student plays on a good vs. a bad reed!
Long story short - reeds are disposable and students should throw them a way as soon as they look "not-new." Any chips, cracks, color changes, etc. are a sign the reed is ready for the trash can. Students should always have 2-3 reeds on hand at all times. Reeds are sold by the box so they can put several reeds in their case and keep the rest in their band locker or at home.
Additionally, reeds should be stored in a proper reed case and not on the instrument. There are two big reasons for this - first, the reed case will allow the reed to dry properly to prevent warping and/or mold (both of which will turn the reed into garbage). Second, leaving the reed on the mouthpiece creates a breeding ground for bacteria and mold which is gross and can actually make you sick if left to fester long enough!
Moisture is an enemy to any woodwind instrument and we want to do what we can to keep the instrument dry. When you play, a small amount of condensation and saliva will accumulate in the body of your instrument. It is very important to swab the instrument after every use. Flutes should have a thin, silk cleaning swab while clarinets, saxes, and oboes will have a silk swab attached to a long string. When swabbing, check your swab for knots before starting, swab one piece at a time, and go from the big end to the small end. This will prevent the swab from getting stuck in your instrument. If your swab does get stuck/caught, do NOT pull on it - bring it to Ms. Conrad to be fixed. Trying to yank the swab out can cause irreversible damage to your instrument.
Woodwinds have lots of screws, springs, and rods that allow the keys to move. These have to be precisely adjusted for everything to work properly - do NOT try to move or adjust any of these parts your self. Some screws may look loose but they are actually in the right spot. However, if you notice a part that is coming unscrewed or loose, bring it to Ms. Conrad ASAP - she can let you know if it is fine or fix it is need be.