Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall Back into Flute Care!

So, the time has come -- it's fall, and many college students are back in high gear performing in lessons and ensembles after a long summer break.  That being said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind in terms of flute care and maintenance to help students as they shift back into a heavier practice and performance routine.

1.  One simple step you can take as a flutist is to swab out your flute and/or piccolo during rehearsals.  There will always be at least a few pauses or breaks when you can swab out your instruments.  College and university rehearsals are certainly longer than those in high school, so don't limit yourself to swabbing out once at the end -- swab as many times as you need when you can!

2. Wiping down your instrument after you play is critical.  It might seem like it's, well, not that big of a deal to just put it away without wiping the outside, but it is!  You want to wipe down the instrument and headjoint to remove oil, dirt, and residue that can accumulate on the body, keys, and in the embouchure hole.  (Click here to read our previous post on this topic, "Keeping It Clean.")  Those quick breaks in rehearsals when you are not playing are also opportune moments to wipe down the instrument -- so keep a cloth on your lap or closeby!

3.  This may seem like a "no brainer," but it really is important to brush your teeth and wash your hands before you play.  Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you -- maybe "travel sized" ones that are small.  There is usually a bathroom where you can stop to brush your teeth and wash your hands before rehearsals.  In fact, you will probably see many people from your ensemble there at the same time!

3. Moisture will affect flute pads, so depending on how much you play and the humidity level of your environment, you may want to keep your case open and let your flute or piccolo "air out" a bit before you close the case and put your instrument away.  Of course, this should be done after you have thoroughly swabbed out the instrument.  There may not always be time to do this extra step, but if there is (say, after you finish practicing), it will definitely help.

4.  Finally, if you have the chance to run a rehearsal -- maybe a sectional, chamber group, flute choir, etc. -- make sure to give the ensemble players time to properly swab out, clean, and put their instruments away before they need to rush off to the next class, rehearsal, or lesson.  Your performers (and their instruments) will greatly appreciate this gesture, and it can really make a difference.

We're sure most of these tips are familiar, but in a college or university setting, the time one spends on his/her instrument can greatly increase -- so proper care for the instrument must match the demands on the instrument itself.  Just remember, the more you play, the more you will need to care for your flute.  Seize those maintenance "opportunities," keep yourself prepared, and your flute should definitely be able to keep up with you!

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