July 11, 2018
Notes from Whitney's presentation to band directors at the USD institute last month. Very good info for both new and existing directors.
In my experience, instruments break at exactly the worst moment possible. So although you are not expected to know how to fix all problems that may arise, it is good to be somewhat prepared for the inevitable.
If it is a school-owned instrument, then you can tinker til your heart's content. Your only concern is that you might turn a cheap repair into an expensive one. FYI: The heat required to WELD and the heat required to SOLDER are very different things. However, instruments owned by the student's family require more caution. If you put yourself forward as an instrument repairer, even if only trying to help, be aware that bad things might happen. Try to refrain from doing anything that is irreversible, including finish scratches.
When you do an emergency repair, encourage the player to get it to the repair shop as soon as they can. There’s no reason to play with duct tape over a spit valve for 3 months. Try to think in the way of ice packs and Ace bandages until the horn can see the doc.
----Truthfully, the most important thing you can do as an educator is to teach the students personal responsibility.
----Teach them that instruments are delicate and easily damaged.
----Teach them about cleaning and maintenance.
----Encourage them to take their instrument to the shop for a yearly check-up.
----Start them young while they care, so when they are apathetic teenagers it may be a habit.
Some basic guidelines
Here are a few basic things to take note of:
No super glue! It has its place in the world and I use it frequently, but it has no place in your tool box for performing emergency repairs. Some shops charge extra to clean up or remove super glue from places it shouldn't be.
No rubber bands! When a key on a flute is supposed to spring back and doesn’t, it is natural to want to use a rubber band. However, the Sulphur in rubber bands eats through silver plate leaving an ugly permanent scar. I have had fairly good luck using ponytail holders because there is a covering over the elastic or zip ties, depending on the application.
Metal doesn't burn but everything else on the instrument does. If you must melt some glue, be mindful of what is directly above the flame as heat travels up. Bring the lighter down to horn instead of holding the horn over the lighter.
Metal stresses when it is bent and doubly so when you bend it back. If you are trying to bend a key back into alignment prepare for the possibility it may crack. My secret is chant ‘don’t break, don’t break, don’t break’.
The smallest issues generally cause the biggest playing problems and vice versa. If a spring is off, the instrument may only play 2 notes and is often a quick fix. If the instrument “just sorta gets weaker” as you go down the horn, this instrument probably has a long tedious adjustment in its future.
Missing Parts! I swear there is $100 worth of Screws and Trumpet 3rd Slide Rings on a band room floor at any given time. Might be worth your while to tell the person who cleans the floor to keep an eye out, possibly start a “Parts Box” like a suggestion box but for lost parts that anyone who spots something walking though can add to. Unclaimed parts will be a good addition to your emergency repair toolbox.
Here are the nuggets of knowledge per instrument.
Oboe or Bassoon
Tuba & Baritone
SUGGESTED TOOLS AND SUPPLIES FOR MINOR REPAIRS
(* = most important)
*Screwdrivers (flat blade and Phillips)
Flat-nosed pliers - large and small (no teeth)
Heat Source (lighter, torch, flameless heat)
Cork cement (contact cement)
*Pad cement and/or stick glue (“hot” glue)
The Band Tool
*Hair ties/ponytail holders
Tissue paper, dollar bill, Yamaha powder paper
*Fingernail polish - to cover lip plates as a rash barrier or to put on loose adjustment screws
F Horn String
Instrument Repair for the Music Teacher by Burton Stanley – Alfred Pub. ($23)
The Band Director’s Percussion Repair Manual by Ed Brown – Alfred Pub. ($30)
The Complete Percussionist by Robert Breithaupt – Barnhouse Pub. ($30)
The Band Director’s Guide to Instrument Repair by R.F.Meyer Alfred Pub
(out of print – sometimes available on eBay or used from Amazon.com)
Practical Band Instrument Repair Manual by Clayton Tiede – Wm C. Brown Pub.
I Hate It When That Happens – a Band Director’s Guide to Emergency Repairs (VHS/DVD
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