I went to the symphony this weekend; I know some of the people who play in it and it's free, who could ask for more? They sometimes have special guests play and this time it was Ben Lulich. He plays first clarinet in some big symphony in Southern CA. He's played on movie sound tracks and on the new Josh Groban(shudder!!) Cd. It's funny, I met him at about 5-6 years ago.......hmm, maybe more. But, anyway he was still in school then; just killing time until he got the kind of music job that he wanted. Now, he's doing what he's doing and I am still pretty much in the same place.
But having a previous acquaintance with him made me feel comfortable asking him this question. During the performance when he had a pause in his playing it looked like he would lick his clarinet about 1/3 of the way down. Then reach into his pocket and stick something onto the spot he'd licked. Now before all y'all get up in arms abut me noticing odd things, he was the soloist and the only one standing up, who else was I supposed to watch?
I asked him at church the next day what he was doing all those times. He looked a little sheepish and said, "Umm, well there's this special paper that is for soaking up excess........moisture. And it needs to be replaced when it's..........if you don't the .........moisture will make it so the valve won't work properly." Then much to his relief I went on the ask about a couple of the instruments I didn't know the names of.
Now, while his answer was a perfectly good one. It still annoyed me, why you may ask? Musicians will never admit what this mysterious moisture is. Do they really not know? Or are they sparing me the awful truth? I may not be a musical person, or a rocket scientist but even I can figure out that the moisture that comes out of wind instruments is spit! You are blowing into it, the moisture that condenses on the inside is coming from your mouth. Especially the horn players where you almost raspberry(Elmo term, sorry!) into them. Just admit to it all you musical people I've asked in the past about what your pouring, soaking up and drying off of your instruments. I can take it, I am around kids all day long, your spit is not that surprising!=)