Instrumental Accessories- What are they about?
When you're looking into playing an instrument, there are lots of "extras" that can come into play. This page is designed to tell you all about the additional items that you may consider purchasing while your son or daughter plays music. I will list here items that I recommend based on personal experience or the respected opinions of musicians I know personally.
Many of these items can be ordered through local vendors using "trip saver" forms. Contact Mr. Clark if you're interested, and he will send you a flyer.
MUSIC STAND: This is likely the most important practice accessory of them all. A music stand helps students stand or sit in a comfortable way while practicing. When a student has to play with music laid out on a table, they will be bent over and uncomfortable trying to read it.
Recommended music stands:
Hamilton Wire Stand: Very affordable music stand from Hamilton, a company with an excellent reputation. This stand is good for holding a lesson book, but is not appropriate for holding heavier books or for playing outdoors. This will be appropriate for most students.
Crafty Gizmos Wire Stand: Folds up like the Hamilton, but can be adjusted for different angles.
Manhasset #38: These are very durable stands that are similar to the ones we have in school. The parts are all metal. These stands have an excellent reputation. They do not fold up for storage.
Hercules Collapsable Stand: This is an excellent piece of equipment that is a step-up from the other folding wire stands. Hercules is a reputable brand of music stands and instrument stands, and I use several of their products myself. The price is much higher, as is the amount of features.
Instrument Stand: Appropriate if there is a safe area of your home dedicated to practice. Not good if there are young children or excitable dogs who have a habit of knocking things over. Using the stand, the instrument can stay put-together and accessible. In my own experience, if I walk past my already-assembled isntrument, I am likely to pick it up and start playing. I have found that Hamilton, K&M, or Hercules all make exceptional stands for all instruments. I have all three of those brands in my own home.
Pad-Savers: Highly recommended. Many flutes come with a cleaning rod, which requires a cloth tied through the end. This is a helpful cleanign tool, but I am more impressed with Pad Savers. They stay inside the flute while the flute is in the case. They have soft cushioned ends so as to never damage the inside of the flute. They remove moisture from pads, lengthening the life of your pads, as well as drying out the moisture inside the instrument that can become a haven for bacteria. Available in a variety of colors.
Bo-Pep: Appropriate only with teacher recommendation. These devices help with flute hand position, especially if you're trying to break old habits or having trouble situating the flute in your hands.
Reeds: Required. I recommend that all beginners start on a Rico 2 1/2. Rico makes a great value reed, providing a consistent product at a low price. By the end of 4th grade, many of our players have developed the muscle control to play on a 3 instead. The number measures thickness of the wood. Thicker reeds are firmer and will respond better to experienced players. A reed that is too soft will honk, play out of tune, and be generally a poor sound. Reeds that are too hard will exhaust the player quickly. For these reasons the middle-of-the-road 2.5 and 3 are my recommendations for reeds. If you're looking at high-quality reeds, I have found success with the higher-level Ricos (like the Rico Royal), Mitchell Lurie, La Voz, and VanDoren reeds, as well.
Neck Strap: Required for saxophone. Optional for clarinet*. The most popular neck strap right now might well be the Neotech saxophone neck strap. It has neoprene padding that makes it feel more like a pillow than anythign else. Make sure to buy an alto saxophone neck strap for your students- baritone saxophone neck straps are too big.
*Not all clarinets can even use a neck strap. Look for a metal loop above the thumb rest to see whether you can even use a neckstrap.
Cork Grease: This likely came with your instrument. If not it is available from Mr. Clark via a "Trip Saver" form for $2.00. Necessary for newer or particularly troublesome corks on clarinets and saxophones. Any brand will work.
Reed-Guard: Strongly recommended. The flimsy plastic cases that reeds come in are good for transport, but are not meant to hold up over months of use. Instead, please consider investing in a Reed-Guard. The Rico II and the Rico IV hold two and 4 reeds respectively. I have been using the same one since 1998 and it still works fine at protecting my reeds. The Rico II holds 2 reeds and costs $2.43 on the trip saver form. The Rico IV holds 4 reeds and costs $4.32 on the trip saver form.
Valve Oil: Required. Any brand will do. In school I will often use Al Cass Fast Action Oil or Hetman #3 oil. I personally use Blue Juice on my euphonium... they are all pretty similar. Generic oil is available from our Trip Saver form for as little as $2.00. One bottle of valve oil should be able to last a school year.