Greetings, Bandlings!

     It is only natural that, with the awareness of and sensitivity for our state of health, our intentions are good and sincere when it comes to performing on instruments which will do us no harm.  

     That having been said, there is no need to fear that you will contract Covid-19, or any virus, from your instrument unless you have allowed someone to play it who is a carrier!  One of the instructions about your instruments included the rule that NOBODY is to handle your instrument.  (Remember? "If it's not yours, don't touch it!)  Now, it IS very logical that we should clean our instruments periodically.  If you have not cleaned your mouthpiece for over a month, that should be a priority!

     It is also logical that, if we are concerned about the current health crisis, we want to reduce the likelihood that we contract COVID-19, or other illnesses.  With that in mind, please be aware that the Corona virus is a protein.  It cannot survive without host cells.  It will "die" (there is an interesting it really alive?) when exposed to ultra-violet light, or left upon the following surfaces:

Brass – Up to 5 Days
Wood – Up to 4 Days
Plastic – Up to 3 Days
Strings – Up to 3 Days
Cork – Up to 2 Days
Cardboard Approximately 24 hours
Copper As little as 4 hours

     If you are concerned about a need to "sanitize" an instrument, please know that, even IF that were a practical possibility, as soon as the case is opened, the instrument is no longer "sanitary."  Instruments may, however, be "disinfected."  This is not a problem for brass instruments (see video, below).  For woodwinds, however, they CANNOT be immersed in any liquid without first removing ALL pads and corks, which can get very expensive very quickly.  (I recently saw a price for an oboe re-pad of over $400.)

     After following the cleaning instructions below, the best way to allow any loitering virus is to give it several days of alone time, perhaps throw in a little sunshine, as well.  It's easy, effective, and far less expensive!

     The following information (green link) is from the National Association of Music Merchants, the Music Educators' National Conference, and National Federation of State High School Associations.  I have seen similar determinations and policies from the University of Nevada and Las Vegas and the University of Alabama - Birmingham.

     Let's talk about instrument care...  There isn't enough time in class to have lessons on just how to clean each and every kind of instrument properly.  So, seeing as we seem to have some spare time on our hands, let's take care of the instruments!

     First and foremost:  there are some BAD videos out there on instrument care and cleaning.  People grabbing the sax neck with a fist, rather than fingers pointed down, soaking the clarinet mouthpiece ALL THE WAY above the cork, grabbing the entire joint of the oboe, rather than by the body, only, et cetera...

     I've found some acceptable videos, and included them here.  Some use specific products which you might not have at home, however they are readily available at local music stores.  (If you are not an experienced musician, I would avoid online vendors.  Everything that shines is not gold!

Side Items:

  • Do NOT spray your woodwind instrument with disinfectant of any kind.
  • Do NOT put pieces in the dishwasher or boiling water!  (Yes, I've seen people do all of these!)
  • I do not recommend sucking air through the instruments in order to dry the tone holes out.
  • If you use a pipe cleaner on a woodwind to get in the tight spots, you MUST avoid damaging the pads in the process!
  • Be sure to clean the bathtub after you give your brass instrument a bath!  YUCK!
  • If there is a stuck part, do NOT use pliers, Vice-Grips, or any sort of hammer!  Please leave that for your band director or trained repair technician!!!  We have several trade secrets at our disposal, so you don't have to dump you instrument down the disposal!

(Do NOT use bore oil...most of you have plastic clarinets, so it is completely unnecessary!

Also, it's VERY easy to mess it up...leave it to a pro, for now!)

(This is by FAR the best oboe video.  He uses proper hand placement when assembling/disassembling the oboe, and reminds you to check for twists and knots before swabbing!)