If It's Stupid and It Works, It Isn't Stupid.

Have you ever have one of those days where you feel like you're flying 90-to-nothing all day from start to finish? Yeah, I've been having one of those months. I've been so unbelievably busy with all sorts of things, but mainly work. It's all good stuff, just a LOT of work. Little things here, paperwork here, broken horns over there. We've had serious repair shop time going on in the band office lately. I don't know how or why, but our kids manage to find the strangest ways to mess up their horns. This week alone I've probably fixed ten unique issues, most of which I haven't seen before. The thing about instruments is that most of them have typical problems. Pads fall out, springs pop out of place, mouthpieces get stuck, valves get backwards. No. Not this week. I had a frozen flute that had rusted solid in the rain. I managed to work it free back into playing condition with some key oil and a lot of time and love. The other flute had a hidden spring on the foot that had popped loose. Most of the trumpets just had stuck valve casings. And then there was this. Image

We had a beginner use this horn last year and he complained of it buzzing all the time. On further inspection, my best friend, a REAL horn player, was able to find the source of the problem. Image

Not only was it pretty beat up, there were HOLES right through the metal. Tiny pin sized holes. Can you see three of them on the right side of the curve? The three black spots? After running some water through the horn, I found TONS more. The more and more I looked for them the more I found. My husband has been soldering a lot lately with his keyboard projects, so I asked for his help. He taught me how to solder, and I hoped that I could use it to make tiny patches. This horn couldn't get much uglier or much holier, so I figured it wouldn't hurt. Well, soldering over lacquered brass without the right know-how and the right tools was probably a long shot. I was right. I got one or two really messy patches done, but they didn't attach well, and many of them wouldn't attach at all. They just burned more lacquer off. Plan B. Now, before you judge, here's the full situation. This is a school horn that we need for a beginner. It mechanically plays really well and sounds pretty good except for the buzzing sound. It isn't pretty, but it's what we've got. Our repair budget is limited, and we're having a hard time getting horns fixed right now. So what's a thrifty, crafty band director to do?

Image

Hot glue. That's what I used. Seriously. I found all the holes, probably fourteen or so total (so far) and just put a dab of hot glue over the top. It stuck, and it held. I played the horn and voila! It works and there is no more buzzing or rattling. Obviously, this is not the ideal fix. Ideally, I would buy replacement slides and have every part taken off and get the dents removed. The horn's basically totaled in the sense that to fix everything, it would be cheaper to get a new horn, a horn that is not in our budget. So for one tip of a glue stick, I got another year's worth of beginner use out of this horn. I think that's not too bad. Now wish me luck as I head back to school tomorrow. I have a trumpet with TWO unsoldered braces ("It was like that when I took it out of my case!"), a trombone's really bent water key rod and popped off water key, ("I stepped on it"), and a trumpet with stuck valve casings ("I don't know why it won't come off!" after I eat chips and come to band) all waiting for me when I get to school. Hoo-ray.