Essential Tips For Cold Weather Marching

Posted on Mar 15 2011 at 09:37:09 PM in Music

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While Arkansas may not be the coldest place around, I've had my fair share of numb lips and frozen valves. Here I've written a few tips passed down over the years by generations of freezing tuba players:

Avoid Chapped Lips

Chapped lips are a problem when playing outdoors in the cold and the wind makes it worse. Get some chap stick or carmex and apply it before you go outside. Drinking lots of water will help too. Trust me, your lips and your girlfriend will thank you.

Wear a scarf!

This will keep your facial muscles thawed out. One of the biggest problems with cold weather playing is dealing with numb lips. Wear the scarf over your nose and mouth while you aren't playing to avoid this.


Also, they look pretty sweet

Get a Kelly Mouthpiece

Nope, this isn't paid advertising. Kelly mouthpieces are made of Lexan plastic. They're warm to the touch, unlike brass or other metals. They really save the lips when playing in cold weather. They're pretty cheap too. You can find them for around $25 and they come in 18, 24AW and Helleburg variations.

One warning though; plastic mouthpieces do not transfer vibrations as well as metal mouthpieces. This takes away from your tone and volume, so unless you know you will be playing in the cold, use a metal mouthpiece.

Dress Appropriately

Even though your director is going to have you wear your marching uniform, you can still dress for the weather.


I personally think keeping my hands warm is most important. I hate cold hands! Gloves will keep your fingers warm (really!)

  • When buying gloves, you want lighter ones, the kind cyclists wear. This will allow you to retain the dexterity in your fingers for playing while keeping them warm.
  • If you are looking for extra warmth, wear a pair of surgical gloves underneath. These will act as a base layer and keep the cold air out.


Warm woolen socks will save you the pain of frozen toes

Dress in layers

Layering clothes under your uniform will help you stay warm more than anything else. Remember to keep them light, so you don't look puffy in your uniform.

  • A "base layer" is long johns, a union suit or long underwear. These are light, don't take up much room and will really protect you from the cold. Highly   recommended!

Wear a Hat


One Like This!

Most of your body heat is lost through your head. Wear a warm hat that covers your ears under your helmet.

Keep Your Valves From Freezing

Yeah, it happens...

To avoid this unfortunate fate, try spraying your valves with a little rubbing alcohol. Alcohol freezes colder than water and should keep them from freezing for a little while. If your valves do freeze, DON'T force them. This is a good way to damage your instrument. Instead, blow warm air through the horn until they start moving again.

BiNak oil supposedly does not freeze in cold weather. I've never tried it, but here's the link:

Follow these tips and your outdoor marching experience is sure to be a success!


Mike Quain


I like hipsters.


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  Article Information
Created: Mar 15 2011 at 09:37:09 PM
Updated: Mar 15 2011 at 09:38:27 PM
Category: Music
Language: English