Keeping You and Your Instrument Healthy

trumpeter in a field - keeping you and your instrument healthy

These are guidelines that we as musicians should really be following all of the time. However, now more than ever, the importance of keeping you and your instrument healthy is something that many musicians are concerned about. In this blog we’ll share our thoughts on how to best do this.

Keeping You Healthy

We’re sure you’ve already seen plenty of guidelines for how to best avoid catching or spreading coronavirus (please see NHS guidelines here). For this reason, we’re going to just focus on specific things you can do as a musician, oh, and share one of our favourite hand-washing backing tracks too!

hand washing directions set to the tune of 'Bohemium Rhapsody' by Queen - keeping you and your instrument healthy
Wash your hands to ‘Bohemium Rhapsody’ by Queen

Ok, now that you have this absolute gem to belt out as you’re scrubbing, here are some other tips:

  • Don’t share instruments or mouthpieces – we understand that this is sometimes unavoidable, so make sure you sterilise them properly first, but under no circumstances share reeds!
  • Clean your instrument properly – more guidance on this in the second part of this blog
  • If you or your pupils are showing symptoms, have lessons via Skype – this article from the MU gives some good advise to get you started, and there is a free webinar from the NAMM Foundation here
  • Talk to like-minded musicians in a similar situation to you for guidance and mutual support – Facebook groups such as this one are already sharing great information
  • Where possible, try to eat well & keep moving (whether that’s going for a walk whilst we’re still allowed, or doing some stretches at home)
  • Try to also be conscious of your own general well being – finding things that can help you relax and stay calm, like playing your instrument, can be a great way to do this!
saxophonist playing in a park - keeping you and your instrument healthy

Keeping Your Instrument Healthy

A key part of keeping yourself healthy as a musician, is making sure that your instrument is healthy too. This is something that is all too often neglected by musicians, of all levels and ages. As we all know, we should be cleaning our wind instruments EVERY time we finish playing, but this is now even more important, given the current situation.

Drying Your Instrument

As ever, it’s incredibly important to remove the moisture from inside of your instrument every time you’ve finished playing. The most effective way to do this is to use a swab or pull-through to prevent a build-up of residue within the instrument.

clarinet in a case - keeping you and your instrument healthy

Sanitising Your Mouthpiece

It is also crucial that you clean the mouthpiece of your instrument. This part is more likely to be contaminated with bacteria, yeasts and moulds than any other part of the instrument – and this is the part that you put in your mouth! By not cleaning the mouthpiece regularly, musicians are subjecting themselves to possible infections or allergic reactions.

Good news – this can be very easily avoided by using a sanitiser spray regularly. There are several on the market currently, but many of them contain harmful chemicals and toxins.

We have recently launched a spray that is skin friendly and friendly to be used by children without adult supervision. It’s also alcohol, fragrance and harmful chemical-free, as well as harmless if swallowed! Edgware’s by BBICO’s sanitiser spray is a 100% natural and kills 99.9999% of all germs in 12 seconds. The anti-bacterial properties of this spray are provided by hypochlorous acid, which is produced naturally in the human body. It’s effective against bacteria, viruses, yeasts, moulds and spores, and kills enveloped viruses such as Coronavirus (COVID-19), Influenza, HIV, etc.

This spray works brilliantly in conjunction with a good mouthpiece brush. We would suggest purchasing a mouthpiece brush with a coating to prevent any scratching. Not only does this decrease the value of the mouthpiece and not look good, it can also change the way it responds and sounds!

Please contact edgware@bbico.com for information on your nearest stockist, or you can order this product here.

Bathing Your Brass Instrument

Now, for brass players there’s an additional step that should be taken. It’s important to give your instrument a bath every once in a while. To do this, we recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Take your instrument apart – removing valves, slides, valve caps, etc. (it might be helpful to label each part so you don’t have too much trouble putting it back together again afterwards!)
  2. Fill your bath with lukewarm water, and add your chosen cleaner (we’ll make a recommendation/shameless plug later)
  3. Place your instrument inside the bath, on top of a towel so it doesn’t get scratched
  4. Allow your instrument to soak for the suggested time given on the label of your chosen cleaner
  5. Use a snake and valve brush to scrub the inside of your instrument and remove any build-up
  6. You should then run water through the tubing until it runs clean
  7. Rinse your instrument to remove any dirty water, and then dry with a clean towel
  8. Make sure to rotate your instrument several times to make sure all of the water has come out
  9. Apply slide grease and valve oil when reassembling the parts
  10. Play test the instrument to make sure everything has been put back on the right place!
image of a bath tub - keeping you and your instrument healthy

Of the musicians who do bathe their brass instrument, many use Fairy liquid, which isn’t actually very good for your instrument. We’ve developed a brass soak which has been uniquely formulated for all brass instruments. The formula attacks the bio-film build-up within pipes, de-greases valves and slides, and freshens with a clean citrus fragrance. This formula is safe for all forms of plating and lacquer finishes due to it’s neutral PH. It also features an anti-static agent which aids water repellence, making the next clean even easier! (very handy if you’re going to be doing this more often now!)

Please contact edgware@bbico.com for information on your nearest stockist, or you can order this product here.

Remember, this recommendation is for brass instruments only – absolutely no soaking your clarinet in the bath, please!

Specific Musical Instrument Maintenance Guides

We are regularly writing maintenance guides for specific instruments on this blog. Keep an eye out for new articles on your specific instrument. If you’re clarinettist however, it’s your lucky day – we’ve already written one for you right here!

Final Thoughts

Here at BBICO, we understand that these are uncertain times, for everyone around our planet, not just musicians. Please do reach out if there’s anything that we can assist you with at all, and we will do our absolute best to help.

We hope that you have found this blog on keeping you and your instrument healthy useful – feel free to share your own tips and tricks with us too!

Hannah Williams

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