There are a few essentials every progressing brass and woodwind student should have in their case or practice room.
Tuner and Metronome
We’re counting this as one item; though we recommend buying both a tuner and a metronome, there are a lot of tuner/metronome combinations available. Here are our favourites:
1. The Snark Touch Metronome
The Snark Touch metronome is the world’s first touchscreen metronome. It has six sounds, fifteen rhythms, tap tempo function, adjustable volume, and an extra loud click. This sleek design fits in any case and has a flip-up stand in-built with a tempo guide.
2. Planet Waves MT Series Metronome and Tuner/Metronome
The Planet Waves PW-MT-01 Metronome is an essential practice tool for both the beginning and advanced musician. The full featured metronome includes loud woodblock tone, tempo, beats per measure, and time division variations making both basic and complicated rhythm patterns possible. The PW-MT-02 (Pictured) also features a chromatic tuner with an easy-to-read needle meter style display.
3. The D’Addario NS Micro Universal Clip-on Tuner
The NS Micro Universal Tuner is the feature packed tuner designed to be seen at any angle. This headstock tuner features a reversible, multi-color display and visual metronome in a compact design. The dual-swivel clip-on mount allows limitless viewing angles and quick application and removal on any instrument, while the extendable arm provides clear unobstructed views of the screen.
Music Stands and Instrument Stands
We’ve already written a blog on music stands, but there are always new products on the market. At the bare minimum, we recommend getting a portable, durable music stand. The new K&M 100/1 Music Stand fits that bill perfectly. Compact, durable, with a 5-year warranty, and replacement parts readily available (should you lose or break one, accidentally).
We see a number of accidents come through our workshop that could have been prevented by the use of an instrument stand. Check out our blog on instrument protection for more info
Cleaning swabs are an essential for any woodwind instrument. Most manufacturers include a cleaning swab (usually cotton or microfibre) with their instruments. We often condemn cotton swabs as they often leave behind fibres and the threads get stuck on the octave pips and wells. We recommend silk swabs for younger players as they are less likely to get stuck, and microfibre for more advanced players as they are more absorbent.
Brass swabs are rarely acknowledged, but they are a phenomenal way of keeping your instrument clean. There’s two ways of keeping your brass instruments clean; spending 1 hour once a month giving it a full detail, or spending 1 minute once a day swabbing the leadpipe, tuning slide, or inner handslide. Like woodwind swabs, brass swabs are either microfibre or silk. Yamaha’s range of swabs for trumpet, french horn, and trombone provide thorough removal of moisture.
Practice Journal or Manuscript Book
It’s important to have objectives when practicing. Aimlessly playing or doodling can lead to some creative achievements, but without regimen it is harder to attain technical prowess on your instrument. A Musician’s Practice Planner is a great tool for maintaining progress and keeping an eye on your achievements. It can also be inspiring to look back on what you have achieved after keeping a journal or practice diary. I personally like to sketch ideas in a manuscript book, keep a diary/notebook and have repertoire sheets; I can do this all in the Leuchtturm1917 notebook below.