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Instrument Case Essentials

Obviously your instrument is the most important thing to have in your instrument case, but there are things you can keep in there that can:

  1. Leave you with less things to remember when you’re rushing off to a contest or concert.

  2. Ensure better preparation for band rehearsals

  3. Avoid a few contest mishaps.

Here is a list of five useful things to keep in your case/gig bag, besides your instrument, lyre and mutes. Think of it as a brass banders survival kit…

1. Valve Oil

Sounds like an obvious one, right? Yet, if I had a pound for every time I’ve had someone ask me for valve oil, or I’ve had to ask for it because I’ve left it at home, I’d be living on a yacht in the Bahama’s. Next time you run out of valve oil, invest in two bottles- one for home and one you always keep in your case. If someone is always bothering you for valve oil- send them the link to this post!

Whilst we’re on the subject of valve oil, I’ve had a few people ask me recently about brands of valve oil. If there is one brand I would recommend it would be Vincent Bach valve oil (see picture on left). I’ve been using it for a few years and it’s the best I’ve used. It’s long lasting, so you don’t feel like you’re constantly oiling your valves every rehearsal and the bottle lasts quite a while, so it’s excellent value for money- beltin’! Most importantly it’s clean, by that I mean it doesn’t leave any residue or stains or cause stickiness on your valve- no one likes a sticky valve.

Avoid Blue Juice. I used it for a while when I was younger and started noticing a green, limescale-like residue around the inside of my valves, when I would disassemble my cornet to clean it. After using it for a while, my valves became quite sticky and I felt like I was constantly having to oil them. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this- avoid, avoid, avoid.


2. Pencil


If you can remember everything a conductor has told you in a rehearsal without writing anything down- congrats on being superhuman, what’s that like? If you’re like me and know you’ll forget the minute you step outside that bandroom- BRING A PENCIL!

I write everything down and I would like to formally apologise to anyone who has had to use my part for a contest after I’ve used it, because there is always more scribble than music notes by the time I’ve finished.

Choose a nice snazzy one. Maybe a music themed one for a true band geek experience!

3) Spare Bow/Concert Tie

It’s a little thing and easily forgotten, buy a couple and keep them in your case, so you never have to worry about it… or you always have a spare to lend to a mate who hasn’t read this and has forgotten/lost theirs and are without a spare.

4) Pegs

A banding essential. Always keep at least five in your case for park/outdoor jobs. Four for each corner of the stand and one in the middle. If they’re in your case you’re never going to have to worry about remembering them on the concert day, or hope that the band has their own supply- you’ll be the banding equivalent of a scout, always prepared. Let the wind try and steal your copy of the Floral Dance now…actually, would it be so bad if the wind carried away every copy of the Floral Dance? Discuss.

Forgotten your lyre on Whit Friday? If you play bass, back-row cornet or trombone, peg your part onto the back of the person in front! Problem solved! If you play at the front and forgot your lyre…unlucky!

Fun game idea: boring march job? Put your pegs in your pocket and see how many of them you can attach to the person in front, before getting caught. If you do get caught…I accept no responsibility  for this idea.

5) Spare Solo/Contest Part

The world is an unpredictable place and you never know what might happen. If you’re playing a solo at a concert or you’re going to a contest, I’d recommend keeping a copy of your part in your case in the event of a crisis. Things can go missing, get ruined or forgotten and it’s just peace of mind to know you’ve got a copy of the important dots, no matter what happens. This is especially true for events like Whit Friday, with the constant possibility of wind and rain. If you drop it in a puddle or it blows away to meet up with the copy of the floral dance, you know you have a spare and your conductor won’t go spare at you for losing your part.


Are there any other essentials I missed out? Let me know in the comments!



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