Keep It Clean

Can you imagine eating with the same cutlery day after day without ever washing it? OK then.

Improve Hygiene

What about your mouthpiece? How long has it been since you washed it?

If you are like many brass players, you stick it in the case when you are done, then take it out the next day and place it on your mouth, oblivious of the bacteria or contaminants that have taken up residence. Get in the habit of washing your mouthpiece at least once a day, perhaps when you brush your teeth in the morning. It will take you about 15 seconds, and it is time well spent.

How about your horn? For the first year or two that I played trumpet, nobody told me about cleaning it out. When I finally did get it into the bathtub, the amount of sludge that flowed out was disgusting. Don’t let yours get to that point! My repairman, Ron Partch, uses a fiber optic camera to view the inside of the instrument. If anything will convince you to improve your cleaning habits, it’s a video tour of your horn! (I’ve told Ron he should sell DVDs.)

Washing your horn once a week would be a great habit to get into, but even if you do it once a month, you are probably still better than average. A flexible wire brush is designed to go through the tubes.

Maintain Performance

Hygiene aside, keeping your equipment clean will improve both the performance and longevity of your instrument.

When comparing trumpet bore sizes, .459” is considered medium-large while .462” is considered large. This gives you an idea of the tolerances involved. How big is that piece of last week’s cheeseburger lodged in the crook of your tuning slide?

Over time, calcium and other deposits can collect inside your instrument. Once deposits have accumulated and hardened, they are difficult to remove. Regular cleaning flushes out these deposits before they become semi-permanent fixtures.

With each cleaning, freshly oil and grease valves and slides to keep your instrument in top operating condition.

Need I say more? Just do it!

About the Author

Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He is on the faculty at the University of Toronto and is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase is a Yamaha Artist. Visit his website at www.chasesanborn.com.