Tips Posts

Rotor Valve Challenges

We can’t stress this topic enough.  There are many problems with rotary valves. Maintaining them requires skills in tying knots, gentle tapping with special hammers, not to mention all those little screws and bumpers. Then after they are completely apart, they must be cleaned off all the dirt and debris on the valves and inside the casings. Lubricating and returning them to their proper casing and reassembling are the next hurdles.

This first picture here shows valves from an instrument that the valves were barely working on. You can see the oxidation and staining on the valves from lack of lubrication turning them almost black. Prolonged lack of lubrication along with dirt and debris caused this build up inside the casings and prevented the rotors from turning smoothly. Sometimes it is so bad we have to forcibly, but gently, drive the valves out of the casings. We then have to clean the valves and the body of the instrument in our ultrasonic cleaner to get them back to new condition.

In the second picture you can see the valves after they have been cleaned just before they are re-installed in the instrument. Proper lubrication will keep your valves looking this way and prevent sluggish action due to oxidation and build-up. Even when you instrument is not being used for prolonged times it is very important to keep lubrication on the valves, and slides, to keep them from freezing up.

In the Repair Shop we use Hetman’s Oils. They are a synthetic oil that lasts much longer and therefore does not need to be re-applied as often as petroleum based oils which dry out faster.

If you have any questions about our blogs or need more specific information please don’t hesitate to contact us here in the Repair Shop.

Basic Tips On Flute Care

Daily care and maintenance of your instrument is very important to how well your instrument performs. Watch this quick video below for a few, quick tips on caring for your flute.

 

Basic Tips On Trumpet Care

Daily care and maintenance of your instrument is very important to how well your instrument performs. Watch this quick video below for a few, quick tips on caring for your trumpet.

 

Preparing A Solo

 

Welcome back from winter break! I hope you enjoyed your time off and are ready to tackle Solo & Ensemble.

Much of the performance year is focused on group ensembles but ISSMA Solo and Ensemble gives you a great opportunity to focus on your individual playing. Mastering solos is an essential part of every musician’s career. Solos are a great way to improve your technical and expressive musical qualities and a great opportunity to become confident performing by yourself in front of others.

Practicing and performing solos requires a great deal of discipline. Unlike your band or orchestra class, you have to make time to not only practice your solo, but you need to schedule practice times with your accompanist, make sure that you know every part of your solo, and you have to balance this with any other activity (such as another ensemble) musical or otherwise.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your solo:

  1. Master the notes and rhythms. This advice may seem basic but the first step in performing at the highest level is to master the basic components of the piece. In addition to notes and rhythm, work hard on making every note sound great!
  2. One you master the notes and rhythms, experiment with tempos in various sections. Part of a great solo (and general musicianship) is to have control over changes in tempo. While being able to stay with a metronome is important in practice, your performance will be much more musical if you allow tempos to fluctuate. Now this doesn’t mean change tempos whenever you want, rather, follow the various tempo markings throughout the piece but don’t be afraid to make the changes dramatic.
  3. Like the previous tip, don’t be afraid to be dramatic with dynamics. In a solo, you have to provide all of the dynamic (volume) changes, so if it’s a forte, make sure it’s dramatically different from piano.
  4. Work with your accompanist and make sure you are on the same page when it comes to tempos, dynamics and playing in sync with one another. The more you practice with your accompanist, the more natural the performance will be!
  5. As always, practice exactly how you want to perform. Never change the way you play when it’s a performance situation.

One final tip is to work on your solo with a private instructor. A private instructor will push you hard and will be able to help you master your instrument with their extreme attention to every aspect of your playing. They can also assist you with the above tips and getting the most out of your solo!

Practicing Over Winter Break

You’ve made it through the first half of the school year! For many of you, that means you’ve probably played a few concerts, recently completed your marching band season, or maybe you’re headed to the Rose Parade. With winter comes the thrill of pep band, the improvisation of jazz band, the spinning of winter guard, or the rhythms of winter percussion. You know by now, being a musician is a never-ending process with performances and rehearsals perpetually around the corner.

With so much going on, you’re probably ecstatic to have a few weeks of winter break to take a break from all the commotion. While it’s great to take a break from any activity that takes up so much of your time, it’s important to incorporate a little bit of practice during your off-time to maintain your peak condition. Many professional athletes can attest to the same thing: just maintaining your physical state during the off-season makes it much easier to perform at your best when it’s game time.

Here are few tips for musicians to maintain their “chops” during the off-season:

Long tones

For a few minutes a day, simply play a few long tones. This will get your air moving and will help you keep the embouchure you’ve developed (brass and woodwinds).

Scales

Working your way through a few scales a day will keep your fingers flexible and coordinated. Any scale (major, minor, chromatic, and etc.) will work!

Lip Slurs (brass)

A few lip slurs will go a long way over winter break. For the purposes of winter break, choose a few simple slurs and take it nice and slow.

Do any combination of the above for 10 minutes a day and you’ll be able ease back into your normal rehearsal routine and perform your best in 2017!