Choosing gifts for the brass players on your holiday list can be tricky. You want to support and encourage them, but it’s difficult to pick out things will be appreciated. Here are some ideas for presents that will appeal across a wide spectrum.
- A Really Good Mute. A professional quality straight mute is a basic item for every trumpet, horn, and trombone player. Horn players need a good fibre mute. Aluminum mutes are standard for trumpet and trombone. If your brass player is using a plastic mute or the old red-and-white fibre kind, a new mute will be welcome.
- Silent Brass/ Practice mutes. These specialized mutes for practicing allow a player to warm up or do basic maintenance playing without disturbing people in the next room.
- Electronic Tuners and Metronomes. Rhythm and pitch are the building blocks of performance. Everybody needs a tuner.
- Stands and Lights. If your brass player is using a wire stand at home you can bet he or she will appreciate a solid, strong, orchestral stand that can support a heavy load of study materials. A good stand light can be a life-saver in a dimly lit room or pit.
- Books. Books about playing, players, and performance broaden horizons.
Stocking Stuffers. Small, inexpensive, and guaranteed to be appreciated:
When Dan Ryan brought his Conn double-bell euphonium in for repair, it needed more than the usual TLC. Somewhere in the far distant past, before Dan had acquired it about thirty years ago, this euph had lost its second bell.
Dan Ryan and Osmun Repair Tech Jim Becker examine Mr. Ryan’s 1923 Conn Double Bell Euphonium
Double bell euphoniums enjoyed a vogue during the early years of the last century (this one was made in 1923). In addition to the regular large bell a smaller, trombone sized bell, controlled by a piston valve, made it possible for a skilled soloist to make it sound like he was playing duets with himself.
Jim Becker did a major restoration of this instrument to return it to good cosmetic and playing condition and was able to locate, in our vast collection of spare parts, a Conn alto horn bell of the appropriate size and about the same age, as evidenced by the engraving, as the missing one. The original bell faced forward and this one is bell up so the sound was not as directional, but we felt that this was acceptable. It would have been possible to construct a 70 degree elbow to match the original direction but it would have been, we felt, a very expensive solution to a minor problem.
Jim cleaned up the bell, tested it and trimmed it to length, and made a new tenon ring to attach it to the body of the instrument. Play testing confirmed it’s pitch and sound quality and now it’s ready for the next hundred years.