Get Your Pack On

I am writing this from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I am on tour with Dave Matthews Band. I always struggle with determining what to bring overseas. Paying attention to what you need and not overpacking is essential. For example, I would love to be able to take my digital SLR camera, but with all the horns I need, extra reeds, gig clothes, regular clothes and miscellaneous stuff, there is no room. So I take a smaller camera that I can put in a coat pocket. Making sacrifices and trimming down to the necessary gear is imperative and makes for a much easier journey.

List Needs vs. Wants.

I always have a packing list that outlines my needs as well as some of my wants. I include essential things like gig shoes, gig clothes, AC adapters, my horns, reeds, business cards, laundry bag and computer, etc. I find it helps take the guesswork out of packing if I see an overview of what I’m taking. I have lists for overseas as well as domestic travel. Change it as needed and stay flexible.


Don’t take lots of little bags; rather, consolidate your stuff. You’re bound to forget something if you have too many things to remember to pack and repack. Leave room to bring home souvenirs from your journey … maybe some new music or some cool gifts. Basically, don’t stuff your bag full before you go. Bringing back memories is something we all like to do.

Watch the Weight.

Weight is an issue, too, when traveling. Airline rules keep changing, and it has become quite a hassle to stay on top of things. Keep the weight you are carrying to a minimum. Overseas, you will find that certain airlines even restrict the weight of your carry-on bags!

In general, remember that you will be carrying your own gear. After a few days on the road, the little things like extra bags, too much stuff and too much weight will likely be a drag on you physically and emotionally.

Happy travels, and don’t forget your cell phone charger!

About the Author

Jeff Coffin is a three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist/ composer/educator (Dave Matthews Band/Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, The Mu’tet). As a Yamaha Performing Artist and Clinician, Jeff has presented more than 300 clinics worldwide. Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet’s latest recording, “Into the Air,” and the latest Dave Matthews Band recording, “Away From the World,” are available on iTunes. Visit or twitter feed @jeffcoffinmusic for more information.

Practice Perfect

Brass practice techniques from Chase Sanborn. From Halftime Magazine an print publication and online community about the marching arts.