Playing music doesn’t just require time and practice, it takes a lot of money over the years. And that’s not just for a decent instrument! You will need a number of extra items to fully flesh-out a band program. In this guide, we will discuss many of the necessary band supplies and accessories required for band and orchestra.
We have separated the band accessories below for each orchestra section and for all musicians in general. Our goal isn’t just to show you the items you need, but why those music supplies are so important.
One thing to remember when buying accessories and band cleaning supplies: being cheap is not good and you should know what you are buying. Always research the products you want to buy, reading both good and bad reviews to make an informed decision.
All Beginning Musicians
Below are the basic band supplies that will be used by almost all beginning and even advanced band students. While the list has remained the same over the years, some of the items are a lot easier to access now.
It is so very essential to have a solid and well-built case. You might like to carry a tenor sax around in a softer gig bag because it takes up less space, slings around the shoulder, and looks cool (at least to the other jazz lovers!). But then a couple of bumps later, and your bell is bent.
Especially if you have an expensive instrument, a case is necessary. It is best to have a hard one that is properly fitted. If you have a wood instrument, then you may need extra features for humidification. It doesn’t have to be cool or pretty, just functional. One instrument lost to a subpar case is all the lesson you will need.
Don’t forget to properly label your case with all your info! That way, if it is lost, you have a better chance of finding it. (And on a side note… keep your instrument's serial number handy in case of theft).
Sheet Music Stand
When playing at rehearsal or performance the usually sturdy Manhasset is the most common stand. But for home use, a folding stand is always helpful. A simple Musicians Gear music stand should always be accessible.
There are many cheap music stands that all serve their purpose. A couple of retainers to hold the sheet music is really all that’s necessary. This model is a little pointy and doesn’t look that fancy but when you need a portable stand it will work fine. Just fold the safety hazard up when you are finished!
If you will be using an iPad or tablet for sheet music or other notes, then you may want to spend a little more on a better stand. But the key is to have a proper holder for the device. For years, the IK Multimedia stand clips have always worked great, they are sturdy with plenty of protection.
You may also need to get a marching band lyre depending on your instrument and needs. These are mini little music stands that attach to your instrument so you can see your tiny sheet music booklet!
You can also find collapsible stands for holding most instruments, again be sure not be too cheap. A stand is useful for when you are practicing and need to briefly set your instrument down. Some have multiple uses and can work for a variety of instruments.
Just make sure to only use these stands temporarily. It is not wise to leave them out all the time as they will collect dust, get damaged from moisture or light, or even worse get knocked over. They should only be used during practice or brief rests.
While they have stands for most woodwind and brass instruments, sax players are often the most in the need. That particular instrument has far too odd a shape to just put in the wrong spot. If you purchase a stand be sure not to choose the cheapest model that way no accidents occur.
You may find you need stands for instruments other than brass and woodwinds. If you play violin or viola, you can try hanging it on the wall with a violin holder or even using a normal floor stand but made for strings.
Books and Lessons
Originally, band students would purchase basic method books on fingerings, scales, and the usual instrument-level appropriate exercises. These books are still available in music stores and online, but there are now so many more options.
The amount of free information out there is pretty incredible. With a little research, you can download and print charts for your notes, music formulas, and of course you can find plenty of sheet music to play.
You will still need reference materials for your instrument, but if you are on a budget take advantage of all the free resources available. Free resources being the keyword, be mindful to avoid stolen or copied items.
If you want to really study music, be like Frank Zappa and Coltrane. They loved the Slonimsky thesaurus. It definitely makes you look a bit like a pretentious music hipster, but if you learn to read it properly you will earn that distinction! And some may have to transpose! That’s great practice.
Every instrument has many cleaning kits to choose from. Often these kits are filled with low cost items that are marked up quite a bit. It’s not bad to buy a kit, but if you know what is in it, you can save some money.
A few essential band cleaning supplies for everyone is a towel and cotton swabs for detailed cleaning. Be mindful of the fabrics that you clean or shine with, when in doubt, don’t use it until you know for sure! Ask an expert, or consult a how-to article!
A little first aid kit in your case may seem silly, but it will be needed at some point. Pokes from springs, splinters from sticks, and more will need band-aids. It doesn’t have to be a medicine cabinet, just a couple of the items you will need most.
And the most important thing in your first aid kit should be a pair of earplugs. Granted an orchestra member doesn’t deal with the noise that a rock band does, but there are still times when you need ear protection. Don’t take your hearing for granted, it will slowly diminish over time if not careful.
When you are playing on your own, you need to make sure you are in tune and playing in time. In the old days, people used pitch pipes to tune and eventually hardware tuners became the norm. Now you can simply download a tuning app on your smartphone.
Metronomes used to be large timekeeping pieces until they also went digital. And, like tuners, you can easily find a metronome app on most phones and tablets. While they can get boring and monotonous they are important practice tools. Drum machine apps can be used as a metronome but with more than just clicking! Check out our awesome metronome here on Notestem! It's not boring, and it's super customizable!
However, for those who may want a decent metronome with some good beat and rhythm capabilities there are many great machines to assist. The Boss DB-30 is portable and perfect for those who want an actual metronome and not just an app.
A Music Collection
A great music collection is an essential band supply. Buy a record player and go to record shops, or even get a reel to reel tape player! No, you don’t have to get that crazy about it. In fact, with YouTube and other websites, you can find most songs you want instantly.
Streaming sites like Spotify have their pros, but their algorithms can be limiting. Actively listen to the music of your instrument, classical pieces, modern pop, and try different genres. Break down the music you hear into the keys, notes, chords, time signatures, and more.
Whether you have an analog or digital collection of music, make it a regular part of your life. Just be sure to branch out that way you hear new sounds that will inspire you. That’s the best part of being a musician: you need to listen to lots of music!
For those who play clarinet, sax, oboe, bassoon, or flute you will need some of the band supplies below. Like the brass section, your biggest enemy to cleanliness is saliva. It is a battle you must keep up with!
Mouthpiece and Ligatures
While your instrument likely came with a mouthpiece and ligature, it is possible to upgrade to a better one. Like all band accessories, there are different levels of quality and build material. A new student shouldn’t spend a fortune, but they should have a moderate priced mouthpiece and a decent ligature.
With stringed instruments the string quality has a huge effect on sound, with woodwinds so do mouthpieces. Do a little research on what you have now and see what other mouthpiece styles your instrument has to offer.
Reeds, Guards, and Trimmers
Once you find a reed that works for you and your instrument make sure to buy at least one box. It’s fine to have a few different strengths depending on your skill level or even the sound quality you may want.
The reeds are not cheap so it is important to have a reed guard to protect the ones you are currently using. Don’t forget to clean the guard on occasion. People don’t use reed trimmers much anymore, but they are great for fixing chipped reeds and getting more life out of them.
Many people who play woodwinds find that having a reed making kit is helpful, along with the knowledge of how to make reeds. After you spend so much time and energy making your reeds, care for them and protect them in a reed case.
Most importantly, learn about different options of reeds for your instrument. Synthetic reeds, for example, are wonderful options for many instrumentalists, but there are other reeds like Vandoren and Rico, who also make traditional reeds that produce excellent sound. Do your homework!
For those who need one, a neck strap is as important as the case. A cheap neck strap is the biggest reason many saxophones have dents in their bottoms. And what’s more important is a poorly made strap will hurt your neck.
Invest in a great neck strap that fits, is comfortable, and most of all safely latches to your instrument. A nice thick pad on the neck part is always a plus. When buying a sax strap you want to spend at least $20. This Protec Neoprene neck strap provides suitable comfort.
<affiliate affiliate="woodwind-brasswind" banner-text="Top Rated" product-id="" url="https://www.wwbw.com/Protec-Neoprene-Less-Stress-Neck-Strap-For-Alto-Tenor-Baritone-Saxophone-J01991.wwbw" product-name="Protec Neoprene "Less-Stress" Neck Strap" subtitle="" summary="This awesome strap not only provides comfort, but it is a secure hold on your instrument that won't let it fall or dent!" image="/uploads/protec-neck-strap-band-supplies.jpg" image-alt="protec neck strap band supplies">
Cleaning and Maintenance Supplies
Your particular woodwind will require specific cleaning items. Clarinets with wood require bore oil applied with a swab to keep the inner wood protected. Of course, the cleaners applied to the different metals of flutes and saxes will be different than wood.
Most woodwinds will also need key oil to keep the keys moving smoothly, and paper-like pad cleaners are nice to occasionally clean the pads off. Mini scrubbers and brushes will help keep mouthpieces and necks clean. Just keep in mind like with fabrics to be careful not to scratch or damage anything. Cork grease helps the mouthpiece go onto corks and acts as a lubricant and sealant for woodwinds.
The most important cleaning band supply is the swab. Modern instrument swabs are made of high tech fibers that have an affinity for dirt and moisture. In general, these should be run through your instrument after you play, or at least as soon as possible.
There are also pad savers that are basically fluffy swabs sometimes left in the horn while not in use. Some people like them, others find them to have too much lint and are overkill. The important thing is to swab your instrument clean after use and then let it air dry.
They do sell mutes for practicing woodwinds like the saxophone, but they have mixed reviews. Even if you plug the bell you still have sound coming out the top holes, so a mute has to be all-encompassing. And they actually do have mutes that will cover your whole sax! If you have the budget, they look strange but they work! Saxophone mutes run the gamut, but the full-covering sax mutes are incredibly effective.
Spare Parts and Tools
Even if you are a beginner, it is helpful to have a few tools handy. A couple extra springs, mini screwdriver or a small all-in-one tool. Even if you lack the skills to use them, there is always a band teacher or someone to help show you.
For those who play trombone, trumpet, French horn, and other brass instruments you will find some of the band supplies you need are similar to woodwinds.
Again we have a lot of different mouthpieces to choose from. And while it is not necessary to spend a ton, you want to have a quality mouthpiece to learn on. Research the various models and styles for your instrument to get an idea of what will work best for you. No matter if you're a French horn player or a trumpet player, finding a good mouthpiece is integral to a beginner's (and professional's!) success.
Cleaning and Maintenance Supplies
Slide grease is necessary for trombones, tuning slides, and similar tube moving parts. Valve oil is needed for those instruments with valves. Do not use the slide grease to oil valves. These items can be found in kits or purchased separately.
Brass instruments also require a mouthpiece brush and swabs, and some may require a snake. Similar to what a plumber uses to clean pipes but smaller! It is pushed through the longer tubing to clean all the gunk out. Be mindful in some cases it can get stuck.
Brass is usually easier to clean than woodwinds as some can be placed in a lightly warm bath. This makes it easy to give it a deep clean. Be careful of what fabrics you use to dry your instrument and only use polishers and chemical cleaners specifically designed for it.
And finally, our percussion section has a whole variety of drums and items to bang on, leading to plenty of band supplies.
Just like strings and mouthpieces, the quality and build of your drumsticks and mallets is important. Different woods lead to specific sounds and some heads are made of felt, plastic, and all sorts of space-age materials.
Most percussionists collect a variety of mallets over time. One of the best places to find a huge variety of drumsticks is Facebook Marketplace! It is common to see cheap cases of mallets pop up. It’s a great way to affordably try out different styles.
Practice Drum Pad
These are simple but essential. The drums are loud and you will have times where you can’t play them. With a practice pad, you can work on your technique almost anytime. There are also pads and muting materials to be placed on your drums, but they will still be loud! The most common practice pads are Pearl or Remo brands. These are affordable and can take a beating! You can’t go wrong with this cheap Remo Practice Pad.
Cleaning Supplies, Equipment, and Tools
Because there is such a huge variety of percussion instruments you will have many different methods of cleaning and repairing. Like with other instruments, you want to pay attention to using the appropriate cleaners and avoid using unknowns.
Drummers often need a lot more tools on hand. Wrenches or keys for tuning heads, pliers, screwdrivers, and even duct tape! And there are all sorts of percussion stands, holders, and tables for all the instruments available.
As far as cleaning supplies go you will want separate cleaners for your shells and cymbals. Your best bet is to buy a pack with multiple cleaners. The Music Nomad Combo Pack is inexpensive and has both.
Eventually, you may need to change parts of the drum out like the head. Of course, you will have to research your drum and model to know exactly what you need. If possible, you can even buy a nicer head to get a better overall sound.
The most popular brands are ones like Remo and Evans. No matter the kind of drum or style you are playing you often can’t go wrong with those two drumhead makers.
If you will be marching around with drums you want to have the best lumbar support and foam to cushion them against your body. Just as you don’t want to destroy your ears, one day your back will also thank you!
Depending on the drum(s) you play it is important to find an item that is high quality and very durable. Don’t skimp on personal safety and your health.
For Advanced Musicians
No matter what instrument you play, as you get better you will find the accessories and band supplies below will help you grow as a musician.
Better Care, Repair, and Equipment
While it is not wise to attempt repairs that you are not qualified for, over the years you will get to know your instrument better. Some musicians find they like doing their own repairs, and sometimes they have no choice!
And besides more interest in caring for your instrument, you will want to find better products. Save for nicer mouthpieces, better woods, string materials, and invest in better musical instruments and band supplies.
If you find you have a habit of checking places like eBay or Marketplace for any affordable instrument that needs, it makes sense to buy a multi-use kit. All you need are some springs and this simple Teachers Travel Repair Kit will serve many purposes.
There are so many secondhand instruments out there that it’s easy to find simple projects. If you wish to explore any instrument in a repairing or engineering way, go for it! There is a legitimate shortage of instrument technicians and innovators.
This can be as simple as your smartphone or using more complicated computer DAW software. Being able to hear yourself on a recording is very helpful at catching what you need to work on. And one of the most important tools you will need is an interface. This allows a mic or other amplified signal to reach your computer.
And beyond practice, being able to create and record your own songs is fun. With all the available technology out there it is incredibly easy to make your own music and demos. You can either go with hardware recording equipment or simple apps and software.
Apps for Practice
There are also apps that help you tune, transpose, change keys, find fingerings, read music, and so much more. It is incredible the amount of software that you can download to help you learn music. It's almost a little overwhelming!
And as we mentioned earlier, drum machine apps are way more fun than metronomes. They are great to turn on different rhythm patterns and just jam. It makes playing scales a lot more enjoyable and it’s great for creativity! It’s like playing with your own band.
So now you have a good idea of most of the accessories you might need as you continue on your journey in learning music. Just do your research or ask other band members and you will have no problem finding great products! The only problem will be the money spent over the years for all the band supplies!