What Do I Do When My Child Brings Their Instrument Home for the First Time?

imagesWhat an exciting day!  The first day a child receives their instrument is always wonderful.  When your son/daughter opens that instrument case for the first time, they want to be good at playing it.

It goes without saying that your child will probably want to take out their instrument immediately and start playing it. Many times, they have not received their first lesson yet.  Beware!  This is the most common scenario that leads to an instrument breaking.  Some of the disrepair may not be evident at first and lead to sound not coming out of the instrument.  This leads to frustration on the part of the student, and next thing you know, they are not as excited to play as they once were.  We want to do everything in our power as teachers and parents to make sure they maintain that “sparkle in their eyes” about playing an instrument, so properly handling the instrument is of paramount importance.

Many teachers do not spend enough time teaching cleaning, maintaining, and putting together an instrument.   Here are your first steps to learning this process in order to ensure years of playing enjoyment:

  1. Check out some YouTube channels on handling your instrument.
  2. Learn how to set the case down properly (yes, there is a right and wrong way!).
  3. Carefully learn how to put the instrument together with your child!  It does not take that long.  Each instrument has its own “rules” (clarinets and flutes: don’t touch the keys!  Trombones: slide care is key).
  4. Putting the instrument away poses its own problems as well, so learn how to do this.

The simple act of knowing how to care for and handle the instrument is one of the keys of maintaining a lifelong interest in music.  Every instrument should come with its own cleaning and maintenance supplies.  Take a moment to learn how to use all of these supplies.  It’s really not that hard.

There are good and bad ways to even set an instrument down, even if you have learned how to put it together the right way!  You may even want to purchase an instrument stand.  These stands allow the instrument to be placed the right way and be extremely accessible to practice at all times!

As soon as the slightest thing seems in disrepair, bring the instrument to your teacher or the local music shop.

You should expect to spend a little money every year on lubricants and instrument maintenance.  Maintaining the instrument and cleaning it out should be a habit, and can also be fun!  I believe that the number one reason students quit at a young age is because their instrument is not working properly, therefore making it too difficult to play.  Enjoy the process of good instrument maintenance and treat your instrument like gold!


  1. Tom McGee says:

    There’s also a right and wrong way to carry the case. You should always carry it so the side that opens is against your body, not facing outwards. In 40+ years I only had my case accidentally pop open once — but that one time would have caused a lot of damage if the top wasn’t blocked from opening all the way by my leg!

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