There are a lot of things to think about before getting into the school year. The last thing you want is to walk in without the necessary equipment and get left behind.
Take your instrument out of the case and look it over to see if there are any open seams on the instrument.
Then look to see if there are any cracks in the instrument, especially ones that are close to the bridge or soundpost. If there are any cracks near the bridge or soundpost, loosen the strings to reduce the chance of making it worse.
These problems on the instrument can quickly become very bad and make the instrument unplayable.
Do you have enough hair on your bow, or is it warped?
It is very common for elementary level students to forget to loosen their bows before they put them back in their cases, which can lead to warping of the bow. You can tell if it is warped by holding the bow by the frog end and pointing the stick away from you, and looking straight down the stick to the other end.
The next thing is to look at the hair itself. Is it still white? Is there enough hair on the bow? Often times the hair will get a little discoloration down by the frog where your thumb will touch the hair, this is normal and not really something to be concerned about. If the discoloration spreads throughout the rest of the hair, then you may want to have it rehaired. With many bows and players, hair will gradually break off over time. When enough hair has fallen off, it can be hard to play, and even bad for your bow. This is another time you should consider having your bow rehaired.
Go through your accessories:
- Shoulder Rest
- Endpin Anchor (For Cello and Bass)
Rosin - If your case ever gets left in the car in hot weather, one of the first things that can happen is the rosin will melt and crack into pieces. When it cracks into pieces, it gets scattered everywhere in the case and makes a mess. This can be really bad if it get’s on the varnish of the instrument. You also need to make sure you have rosin for class.
Shoulder Rest – Look at the arms that hold the shoulder rest on the instrument. Is the rubber intact, or is it falling apart? If it is falling apart, it can scrape and tear apart the sides of your instrument. If you are wanting to upgrade your shoulder rest, make sure you get one that fits you and your instrument. Not every person will like the same shoulder rest.
Cleaner – Be careful with the cleaners and polishers, some of them are very oily and can get everywhere. Especially if they get hot and explode. The first thing to make sure you have is a good cloth to wipe your instrument with. The priority is getting the rosin off of the varnish. When rosin sits on the varnish too long, it can ruin it. After you have wiped off all the rosin from the varnish, you can then use a cleaner to clean up any remaining residue. This doesn’t need to be done every day, just occasionally as needed.
Mute – Mutes are very easy to lose. They are small and often times fall off of the instrument. Don’t be the one person in class missing one of these when you need one.
Endpin Anchor – The easiest anchor to deal with is the kind that attaches to the leg of a chair. But there are others that look like discs and can just be thrown anywhere and just sticks to the floor (Most of the time). These anchors help with two main things: they keep the instrument from sliding when you are on hard and slick surfaces, and keep the floor from getting scratched up if you have a sharp endpin. Endpins with a rubber end on them do the same thing, however, they do not always keep the cello from slipping as well as you might think.