Brass Instruments: Mouthpiece Care

brass instruments
Making sure your instrument is clean and in proper working order is an essential step to musical bliss – that place in your mind where you can easily, effortlessly enjoy making music with your horn!

Taking care of your mouthpiece is the first step. Here are some very easy things you can do to make sure your mouthpiece lasts long and plays loud.

Daily Care:
Preventative measures are the best way to keep your mouthpiece shiny and clean.

You will need:
Your mouthpiece
Mouthpiece brush (trumpet/French horn or trombone/euphonium/tuba)
Spray bottle with clean water
Clean cotton rag (a piece of an old sock or t-shirt will do)

Here’s what to do:

1) Brush your teeth.
When? After meals and before playing.
Why? Most sediment in dirty instruments and mouthpieces comes from food particles left in the mouth after eating.

2) Spray mouthpiece and brush out any internal residue.
When? After practicing and rehearsal.
Why? Dry lips can leave skin particles that stick to the mouthpiece rims; dirty leadpipes can leave grime. Wipe off these areas any any residue in the mouthpiece cup.

Deep Clean:
Despite our best efforts at daily maintenance, mouthpieces tend to get gross or worn over time. A thorough mouthpiece cleaning about once a month will remove germs, gunk, and any other gross things that build up during normal use!

Frequency: Monthly
Time needed: 30 minutes

You will need:
Your mouthpiece
Mouthpiece brush (trumpet/French horn or trombone/euphonium/tuba)
Mi-T Mist, FlavOmist, Sterisol, or other alcohol-based sterilizer
Dish soap
Drinking glass
Clean cotton rag
Silver polish cloth (optional, but DO NOT use for gold plated or plastic mouthpieces)

Here’s what to do:
1. Add a drop of dish soap to the glass, then fill with enough warm water to cover the length of the mouthpiece. Make sure it’s not scalding hot as it could affect the finish of your mouthpiece.
2. Soak your mouthpiece for about 20 minutes in the soapy water to loosen buildup. If it is extremely dirty, allow to soak overnight.
3. Brush out from either end to fully remove buildup.
4. Rinse the mouthpiece under warm running water, dry with rag, then let air dry for about a minute.
5. Sterilize the mouthpiece with a couple of sprays, and allow to dry for another minute before wiping off the sterilizer.
6. If tarnished, use a silver polishing cloth to restore shine to shank and cup.
7. Repeat steps 4-5. Always rinse the mouthpiece after using a silver polishing cloth

That’s it! Following these instructions will help you keep your mouthpiece clean and fresh and working just right!

Chuck W., Jersey City

 

Jersey City music lessons with Chuck W.Chuck W. teaches music theory, guitar, songwriting, bass guitar, trombone, trumpet and tuba lessons in Jersey City, NJ. His specialties include classical, jazz, pop, and rock styles. Learn more about Chuck, or search for a teacher near you!

Photo by Craig A. Rodway

 

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