Below are 10 small items I carry in my clarinet case. ClarinetMike says, “Remember the words of Coach John Wooden, ‘Little Things Make Big Things Happen.’”
ClarinetMike’s 10 Little Secrets!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
- Darker Lead Pencil. I always try to mark my music with a darker leaded pencil. This really helps me to see my markings. I have found that often “custom” pencils, such as university logo pencils have a darker lead for some reason.
- Earplugs. I always carry a set of simple earplugs in my case. You never know when you’ll go on a gig and you’ll be sitting in an orchestra with a trumpet in your ear! Some of my worst memories involve the slapstick in “Sleigh Ride!” If you are involved in an ongoing gig that is tough on your ears, do some research on getting high-end musician earplugs. Protect Your Ears! UPDATE: I somewhat recently found out about and have been using Earasers earplugs. Check ’em out!
- Synthetic Reeds. Many single reed players play exclusively on synthetic reeds and they sound GREAT! Unfortunately, I can’t get them to work as well for me, so I still use cane reeds. However, I carry a couple of synthetic reeds with me for special occasions when regular reeds tend to fail: outside performances, “quick instrument switch” doubling gigs, etc. FYI, I like the Legere European Cut Signature Clarinet Reeds – Click HERE.
- Pad Dryer. During a long practice session or gig, especially in a cold room, water can get under your pads. I carried cigarette paper for years in my case to dab the water off the pads. I now carry the BG Pad Dryer. It works great! Check it out HERE. The last thing you need is to try to explain to a junior high school official about how cigarette papers are part of your “standard equipment” in teaching clarinet lessons! FYI, Muncy Winds sells a product called “Zonda Pad Papers.” They are cigarette papers without the word “cigarette.” Click HERE.
- ReedGeek. A few years ago I started using this amazing product. The truth is I hate working on reeds and am kinda scared of knives. But I love my little ReedGeek “Universal” Reed Tool – IT WORKS! The ReedGeek has REALLY helped me do simple reed adjustments that have very much improved the performance of the cane reeds I play on. Check it out HERE (watch the videos).
- Black Swab. At the rehearsal and gig, it is best if your swab is black. This will keep from drawing unwanted attention to yourself when you swab. This is especially important if you are new on a gig. (FYI, I carry an extra swab or 2 in wild colors for less formal occasions! I’m easily entertained….)
- Little Screwdriver. I always keep a little screwdriver in my clarinet case as a small screw will sometimes work itself out a little when playing the clarinet. I had a couple of screws on my beloved 1974 Buffet R13 Bb clarinet that used to work themselves out all the time! [Now fixed, yes!] You can get a set of small screwdrivers at “Tool World” at a local home improvement store or in a sewing kit set at a Mega Mart.
- Small Watch. I don’t wear a watch as I don’t like the constriction on my wrist. So, I have a little black watch (black like my swab) I carry around. It’s a little digital watch that clearly shows the time and such. I have taken off the wristband part and can position it on my music stand or near my clarinet peg. This allows me to easily keep tabs on the time and, importantly, be less obvious about checking the time during lessons or at a gig. A few years ago here in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, an “old school” conductor fired a couple of musicians in a local orchestra for looking at their cell phones during a rehearsal!
- Two Clarinet Pegs. I always carry 2 portable clarinet stands with me at all times. This way I can have one on stage and one backstage at a recital. If I play an orchestra gig, I also bring my heavy steel-based stand. I put the heavy stand on stage beside me and the plastic ones in the dressing or warm up room. There are many portable clarinet stands to choose from. I like the simple plastic stands that are light and fit easily in my case cover.
- Plastic Mouthpiece Cap. A metal cap may be more secure, but if it falls off at the rehearsal or gig, it could make a loud and embarrassing racket, “BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG……………..BANG!!!!”