P.O. Box 9, Murray KY 42071
Woodwind instrument Care

Scott E. Thile
Piano - Instrument Technician
MSU, Department of Music

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General Care
Lack of regular cleaning, and ignoring common sense precautions are the major cause of damage to woodind instruments. Moisture, usually saliva, and sudden exposure to changes in humidity both contribute to cracking of wood instruments. Moisture also contributes to oxidation and rust in the metals used in the sax and flute families.

Your horn, regardless of whether it's wood, plastic, metal, or rubber, should be swabbed out after each use.

Swab out the entire horn with a weighted cloth designed for
use on your instrument. Go from the bell toward the barrel at least
twice, or until dry, then take the instrument completely apart and
dry any tenon socket that shows moisture.

Make it a habit to clean you're instrument thourghly after each use.
This is essential maintainence for woodwinds.

Keep a separate piece of cloth in your case for the
mouthpiece. It should be cotton, about half the size
of a hankerchief, and have no weight. A weight could
easily chip the tip, destroying the mouthpiece.

Twist the end of the cloth and push it through the
mouthpiece until it can be pulled from the other side.

Always cover your mouthpiece when your done playing your horn.

The tip of the mouthpiece is very delicate and will chip easily. Always remove your reed before cleaning your mouthpiece, covering it, and putting it away.

It's a good idea to cover your mouthpiece even during a short break or right before you perform. This will help keep your reed moist as well as protecting it, and your mouthpiece, from possible damage.

Avoid soft drinks, eating, chewing gum, or smoking right before (or while) playing. These form acids in your mouth which are especially destructive to your instrument. Rinse your mouth out with water after eating, and before you play your horn.

Keep your instrument in its case when not in use to avoid possible accidents.

Avoid placing music and loose accessories in your case with your horn. Loose items can cause damage or become lodged in the horn. Closing music into the case can bend delicate keys and rods.

Coming soon: Specific instrument care and minor repair instructions for the following instruments:

Questions or comments: scott.thile@murraystate.edu
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