Maybe you don’t need this list. But maybe your students do!

Things to have in your cello case:

1) spare bow and rosin

2) at least a good spare A (whole set is ideal, but pricey, I know)

3) nail clippers

4) ibuprofen for headaches and sore arms

5) fabric band-aids (plastic rattles against the fingerboard and you can’t feel the instrument as much)

6) rock stop

7) lint-free cloth

8) ear plugs

9) business cards, if you have them

10) a few dollar bills and a dollar in quarters for vending machines, parking meters, and pay phones

11) emergency granola/energy bar for random starvation at foodless places

12) a few mechanical pencils with good erasers on them

There is a sting to each of these points, for, at one point or another, I have been in dire need of an item, and have suffered in its absence. I once even forgot to put my instrument in my case! I was a little kid, but it was mortifying. Same thing with keeping an extra bow parked in there. I know seasoned professionals who have managed to leave their #1 bow behind…it’s easy to do. Being prepared also looks good to the people around you. More than talent or chops, the people who hire us want to know that we are dependable. Even if you’re a middle or high schooler, if you’re a serious musician, surrounded by other serious musicians, the people you play with now will be around for the rest of your career. Make the most of every rehearsal and concert. Each one is an opportunity to make a good impression. Show up on time, or better, early. Then you can relax, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the fruits of your preparation.

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9 Responses

  1. : ) Like your list! I realised in a horrified fashion recently on a quartet weekend that my spare strings were in a bag at home which I had down sized my bits and bobs from! they now live in my cello case… but I have a beautiful silk little bag that I take places. Colleagues made it for me when I left a job a few years ago and I use it for my pencil case and roisin and doughnut ( same things as rock stop I guess) so cooollll! I have a spare bow too so now feeling appropriately prepared… always have the other bits and bobs bar plasters in my hand bag!…. what exactly are the plasters for – just emergency cuts etc… or something cello specific ? 🙂 Wish I lived in the US so I could have lessons with you but Scotland is a long way away 🙂

  2. Plasters! Exactly. It’s good in case you slice your fingertip (I think every musician should have a bagel slicer…I know so many people who have incurred bagel injuries!) or perhaps you have a tender callous. A lot of my students swear by fabric bandages during their thumb position training, as that thumbnail/outer knuckle area can get so inflamed.

    If I should happen to travel to Scotland (I usually go to the UK once a year), I will contact you, and we’ll have a lesson! 🙂

  3. I thought of another item to add to the dozen essentials, but, ummm, on second thought, maybe should remain “mute” on the subject (nyuk, nyuk).

  4. I don’t have room for all of that stuff in my cello case, but usually carry it in my music bag. Lately I’ve been trying out new styles of music bags *and* switching cellos frequently, and consequently have been unpleasantly surprised when I don’t have something I need in rehearsal- usually Terry’s “mute,” but last night an extra D string after mine unraveled on the peg. Phooey. Maybe I need a checklist.

  5. I used to have a music bag, but I would leave it all over the place and have to go looking for it. Now I have a Bam HighTech case that is very minimal inside, and I made a little extra pouch (in addition to the one that’s in there) to hold all of my goodies.

    @gottago: I really enjoy your blog, btw. What you’ve done with CelloBloggers is fantastic.

  6. I also carry a tuner/metronome, a standlight, and a stand, but these things do not fit in a cello case. I have multiple music bags for multiple ensembles, so have duplicated many of these items, so I can just grab the right bag (hopefully) and go.

    I do like the idea of Cellogal’s little silk bag for these essentials.

  7. Thanks, Emily.

    I have been wondering how those bags are installed inside cases. Care to share – and maybe a picture?

  8. Such a great post… I have a recital coming up on saturday & one of the things I’ve been quite nervous about is that I don’t have an extra set of strings, or money for extra strings at all … well, only 5 days left.. I should be ok…

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