Versatile Musician/Repair Tech Offers Maintenance Tips for Woodwind & Brass Players

A serious, dedicated musician often possesses a passion for music which a non-musician may not fully comprehend. Indeed, this enthusiasm can continue to drive said musician, even though he or she may be forced to turn to non-musical endeavors simply to earn a living. The rare musician who can live a fully musical life, at both work and play, is to be admired.

Craig Dougald, proprietor of Crozet Music LLC in Crozet, Va., is one such musician who has managed to build a business and a “career” around his passion for music.

Beginning in 1984, Craig played drums and sang for the Charlottesville, Va.-based band Indecision, which toured extensively throughout the southeastern U.S. and other parts of the country from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. When the band decided to stop its extensive touring, Craig realized, “I needed a job.”

Woodwind repair

“In order to make a living at what I love doing, playing music, I branched out into other musical endeavors, including retail, instrument repair, and teaching lessons,” Craig told in a recent interview. He began to work retail at a local music store. This quickly led to a training program in repairing and maintaining woodwind instruments, primarily for school band students.

Craig spent the next 17 years repairing all types of wind instruments, thus acquiring a large body of expertise. When his locally owned repair shop was bought out by a national chain of music stores, he explored going into business for himself.

“I began to be worried about my job,” Craig said. So, he took some classes offered by the federal Small Business Administration, which turned out to be a great decision as the national chain shut down his former employer’s repair shop.

“I said to myself, hey I like what I’m doing – I’m going to start my own business,” he said.

Thus was born Crozet Music Co. Today, Craig specializes in repairing many types of wind instruments, from piccolos to baritone saxophones for clients ranging from students to professional players. He kindly offered a few tidbits of advice for players of all abilities.

Tips and advice

“It may sound like common sense, but keep your instrument in a case,” he said. “This will keep it from getting damaged. Also, keep it clean, swab it out after you play it.”

Using the clarinet as an example, Craig said players can keep the rods and keys lightly lubricated and make sure the corks are greased to keep them all in working order. He urged caution, however, in adjusting the clarinet’s various screws.

“Don’t use a screwdriver unless you know what you’re doing,” he advised. “Turn a screw wrong and you will take the instrument out of regulation.” Regulation refers to the motion of the instrument’s rods and keys, which must be carefully timed and coordinated in order that the instrument will work and play properly.

Brass instruments must be thoroughly cleaned to get the spit out and prevent “red rot.”

“Brass doesn’t rust, it disintegrates from the inside out. Keeping the instrument clean will keep the slides and valves moving freely and will help prevent red rot in the long term,” Craig explained.

Take it to a pro

Craig also urges instrument owners to periodically bring their instruments to a professional for overhaul rather than settling for occasional minor repairs. This will keep the instrument in regulation and will avoid leaks.

“It’s the equivalent of having four flat tires on your car and changing only one,” he explained, adding this is particularly important for beginners and students.

“The instrument needs to play properly,” Craig said. “Otherwise, it will squeak and squawk and the kid will think it’s his or her fault and maybe quit because they think they can’t play. A pro can play past a leak, but a beginner can’t.”

Just because a player is a novice, that doesn’t mean that repairs should be skimped upon, Craig says. The felt pads on a clarinet and the leather pads on a saxophone should be mended or replaced periodically to keep the instrument in working order. All moving parts should be periodically lubricated to keep them moving effortlessly.

“Every instrument is different,” Craig said. “Take it to a pro and have it looked at.

In addition to repairs, Craig offers drum, piano and guitar lessons through Crozet Music. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Va., where he teaches percussion for the school’s concert band, as well as Celtic and Scottish drumming for Woodberry’s bagpipe band.

Academically, Craig holds a BA in Music Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a major in Percussion and Piano. He also studied Music Education at East Carolina University.

Craig’s band, Indecision, still performs occasional shows in Charlottesville, Richmond and other locales throughout the southeastern United States.

Check out Crozet Music LLC on Facebook:

For more on Indecision, go to:

Tom is the Managing Editor here at He has worked as an editor/writer for more than two decades and plays several musical instruments with varying degrees of proficiency.

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