All in the Case

Jim Snyder

Back in the third grade when it was time to select a band instrument to play, my classmates were busy beating on or blowing into all the options.

Not me. Ever the pragmatist, I was in the storage room looking for the smallest case to fit in my bike basket, and I discovered the clarinet! Later I found out about the piccolo! But I digress …

When it comes time to travel with your clarinet, the tiny case requires efficient packing skills. Here are some tips for things you should take in your case and how to take them.


There are many cool reed storage cases on the market, but most take up too much space. While I don’t endorse any particular reed brand (there are too many great ones), those little plastic casings that Vandoren reeds come in are ingenious. There’s no chance of damaging the reed tip, and you never have to touch the part that goes in your mouth. Take four or five good reeds with you. They’ll fit in the bell. Secure them together with a couple of rubber bands, which you can use in an emergency if a key spring breaks. (I’ve done this.)


Pack an eyeglass screwdriver for those screws that only come loose when you’re about to go on stage.


If you’re using a metal ligature, take one of those soft ones too in case the metal one gets stepped on and deformed or the screws strip on it. Remove the adjustment screw on the new soft one, and it’ll lay flat in the case.

Instant Humidifier

If you have a wooden horn, place a small piece of damp sponge in the case to keep the humidity level up, thus avoiding cracks.


If you don’t have room for cork grease, use that hand lotion you packed elsewhere in your suitcase (or the free one in the hotel room). As your horn warms up, the clarinet section will smell better too!

Small Pieces of Paper

Throw in some one-inch strips of printer paper to slide under the pads on the tone holes that gather moisture.


Pack a toothbrush … no debate on this one!

About author

Jim Snyder

Jim Snyder is a clarinetist from Orlando, Fla. Though primarily known as a jazz musician, his extensive career has put him in every musical place you’d expect to hear a clarinet—and in some you wouldn’t! Jim played for many years in New Orleans with trumpet virtuoso Al Hirt and is currently a staff musician at Walt Disney World. A Yamaha Performing Artist, he travels the United States as a soloist and clinician. Visit his website at

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