Keeping Brass Instruments Healthy
The news coverage of COVID-19 is everywhere right now and one can't help but to hear it discussed ad nauseam. That being said, now that people are getting into the habit (if they weren't before) of washing their hands, there are some other things which can be likewise beneficial for brass players in particular.
Last week, we encountered a beautiful older US-made trumpet that the owner hadn't played in a few decades. Most of the moveable parts were no longer moving the way they should and it was in dire need of some TLC to be made playable again. However, this instrument also is a wonderful example of how regular maintenance and deep cleanings can be beneficial to the instrument as well as the player.
You can see in the above picture, that the ports (holes) in the pistons are pretty funky. The greenish, milky film inside is a dried cocktail of saliva, oil, food debris, as well as general gunk. Imagine, if you will, what it took to get these pistons caked with that much goo. Remember, that playing brass means inhaling as well as exhaling, so the bacterial and mystery gunk being blown in can be going in and out of the player's lungs in addition to building up inside the instrument.
It's certainly not the end of the world, nor a reason to shun the brasswinds. Normal cleanings will help minimize that buildup and keep a horn in a condition much more suitable for playing. In this case, we ultrasonically cleaned the instrument and parts, now the pistons (and the tubing) are free from that buildup.