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Why can't we eat before we play?


Seriously, we mean it!

Eating before playing any musical instrument, but especially wind and brass instrument, can cause a variety things to your instrument but also your own well being. Us music teachers, aren't telling you to stop eating before you play just because we can literally smell what you ate-- which is gross within itself-- but as well for your own well being!

What can happen to your instrument?

Mold and BActeria Growth

Okay so you're already blowing hot air into a metal tube that makes musical sounds-- that's already the perfect environment for mold to grow... Moisture accumulation from the musician's breath and saliva, warm internal temperature, limited ventilation in instrument cases, storage in damp environments and then on top of that if you eat before? Food particles to feed the mold It makes for the perfect environment favorable for mold growth.

It's not just mold you have to worry about-- it's also the perfect environment from bacteria growth. Bacteria loves moisture and organic materials... like food particles landing in your instrument.

Residue, Crust, Buildup, and Sticky Pads

Okay, so an unfortunate fact of music, specifically, wind and brass instruments, is that there is an inevitable accumulation of debris, moisture, and contaminants. So overall, you need regular maintenance. Sucks. but chompin away right before you play, can blow chuncks into your instrument, creating the perfect environment for residue, build up and crust within the instrument.


Rotting and decay

Surprise, Surprise! There are in fact, organic materials in almost all musical instruments! Eating before you play is a one way ticket to gradual decay and deterioration over time!


You know what mold and build up means right? Yes, SMELLS. You don't know how many times our repair techs have passed out from the SCENT of uncleaned instruments. Unpleasant odors develop within the instrument because of the toxic mixture of moisture, bacteria, or other contaminants!

Critters and Clogs

Yeah... nuff said.

Bugs, insects and critters love moist places in combination of "free food". You'd be surprised of the things we've found in instruments.

Of course, with all the gunk built up, blockages within the instrument's tubing or key mechanisms happen! Which in turn, affects your playing.

Condensation Build Up in the Instrument

If you've recently eaten something hot or consumed a beverage, the temperature difference between your warm breath and the cooler interior of the instrument can lead to condensation. This may affect the tuning and overall playability of the instrument. It's a good practice to allow some time for your body temperature to regulate before playing. Additionally, food or drink particles from the mouth may introduce moisture into the instrument, potentially impacting its components over time.

the integrity of the instrument suffers

Over time, the combination of moisture, contaminants, and temperature changes poses a risk of damage that further compromises the instrument's structural integrity and performance. The presence of moisture and contaminants inside the instrument can alter the quality of sound produced, undermining the musician's ability to achieve the desired musical expression. Thus, the integrity of the instrument suffers not only in terms of its physical structure but also in its capacity to deliver optimal sound quality, emphasizing the critical importance of proactive maintenance and care.

Spending More Money On Repairs and MAintenance

It is basically a requirement to spend money on repairs and maintenance on musical instrument. But eating before playing can exasperate the cost of repairs. With all the things that can build up within the instrument and deterioration that is expedited by eating food before playing; leads to needing more repairs, more quickly.

What can happen to you?

Beware: Clarinet Lung

Clarinet Lung, often associated with playing wind instruments, particularly the clarinet, encompasses a range of respiratory issues, though it lacks official medical recognition. This term underscores potential challenges musicians may encounter. The condition involves inhaling microorganisms, as wind instruments, including the clarinet, create an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth due to warm, moist conditions within. Consequently, players may introduce these microorganisms into their respiratory system. Moreover, there's a concern about hypersensitivity pneumonitis, where individuals may develop lung inflammation due to an immune response to inhaled allergens. The repetitive inhalation of contaminated air from the instrument could contribute to this inflammatory reaction. Proper instrument hygiene, including regular cleaning to prevent microbial buildup, becomes crucial in addressing these respiratory considerations.

Physical discomfort

Eating a large or heavy meal right before playing may lead to discomfort. The physical act of playing the instrument requires controlled breathing and diaphragm support. A full stomach can restrict your diaphragm's movement, making it more challenging to breathe deeply and control your airflow. This might result in a feeling of bloating or tightness.

Improper Playing Movements

Improper playing movements wield considerable repercussions on a musician's overall performance, comfort, and long-term health. Firstly, incorrect posture or playing positions can induce muscle strain and tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back. Extended periods of playing with suboptimal posture may contribute to chronic pain and discomfort. Secondly, musicians, including clarinetists, are prone to repetitive stress injuries due to the nature of their instruments. Frequent and forceful finger movements can result in conditions such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Thirdly, inefficient breathing techniques can compromise the quality of sound produced and may lead to respiratory fatigue. Adequate breath support is pivotal for wind instrument players, and improper techniques can impede their overall performance. Lastly, the long-term impact of chronic issues stemming from improper playing movements can adversely affect a musician's career and well-being. To mitigate these risks, musicians should prioritize proper technique, seek guidance from instructors, and integrate regular breaks and stretches into their practice routines to prevent injuries and ensure a sustainable and healthy musical journey.

Breath Control Suffers

The process of digestion increases blood flow to your digestive organs, diverting it from other areas, including your muscles. This diversion might impact your breath control and overall stamina while playing. It's generally recommended to wait at least an hour after eating before engaging in physical activities, including playing a musical instrument.

What can you do to prevent this from happening?

There really simple actually:

  • If you can wait to eat, wait. If not brush your teeth and/or gargle some mouthwash

  • Clean, clean, clean!

  • Polish the instrument on occasion

  • Schedule a deep clean and maintenance with Melody Mart!

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