Students: Be Prepared

reeds-and-cork-greaseMusic classes are often stimulating and fun, but if one is not prepared, they can be hard to get through. I cannot begin to tell you how many times — from fourth grade up until college marching band last semester — I have been approached by a peer in complete and utter distress: “Do you have an extra reed? I’ll pay you back tomorrow, I promise!” Sometimes people forget valve oil, and sometimes they forget their instruments entirely, so here we will cover what students need for class and how to prevent oneself from forgetting these items.

There are a few things all students need, no matter what kind of group they are in. Most importantly, they need their instruments. It sounds simple enough, but almost everyone I know (myself included) has forgotten their instrument at one point or another. When you are rushing out the door, trying to get to school on time, it can be easy to forget your music-making treasure, so the best way to combat this is to put your instrument by your front door the night before so you HAVE to look at it as you leave your house. It is also not uncommon for somebody to forget their music, so put it in your backpack at night. I have had a few experiences where a soloist leaves his or her music at home, and there are no more copies at school, preventing the whole ensemble from practicing a piece; this is frustrating for everyone involved. When you get a new piece, go home and make a copy of your part, leave it on the stand where you practice at home, and then keep the originals in your backpack (or locker if you have one at school) so you always have music with you. Additionally, students should always bring a bottle of water with them, and a pencil too. At every age, students do not bring pencils and forget to mark their music when they get home, and it often leads to angry directors and sometimes very noticeable mistakes in concerts. Avoid the anger when you can: bring a pencil. If you are in a marching band, put it in your pocket.

Specific groups need other specific items. Saxophones and clarinets need to bring cork grease and multiple reeds — I always keep a box in my case to make sure I have something to play with. Also, if you have an extra and are able to give one away to someone in desperate need, then they will be more likely to give you one in case you find yourself without a working reed. It is also good to have cleaning swabs so you can clean your instrument right after class (a lot of kids forget to do so when they get home, and it is good to always protect your pads). Saxes need to always bring their neck straps, too. Brass players need to bring valve oil and whatever mutes their music calls for, and percussionists need their sticks. Orchestral musicians should have rosin on hand. It is simply important to have these necessities and be prepared so that rehearsal can be as efficient and productive as possible; this makes for a happy director, and a happy director makes for a fun class meeting and enthusiasm from all.