What's In My Music Bag?

As cellists, we need so much more than just our instruments. There are a variety of essential accessories that every cellist uses on a daily basis. I like to keep all of my items in a music bag so they are easily accessible and portable. Below is a list of what I put in my music bag, and helpful tips for assembling all the items you need as cellist. 

1. Tote or small bag - Simple cotton canvas totes such as this Colorful Cellos Cotton Canvas Tote Bag are great for using as a music bag because they fit sheet music perfectly. You can also use a smaller sack or toiletries bag such as this Herschel Chapter Travel Kit if you keep your sheet music in a separate place such as your cello case. 

2. Sheet music or iPad - You can keep all of the sheet music you need in your music bag to easily transport it to rehearsals and concerts. Alternatively, you can keep all of your music on an iPad in PDF form. ForScore is a great app to use for storing and organizing your music on an iPad. 

3. Rosin - Rosin is essential for gripping the strings and making them speak clearly, and should be used every time you practice. I recommend Bernadel or Melos Light for the winter and Pirastro or Melos Dark for the summer. 

4. Microfiber polishing cloth - I always keep a small cloth in my bag, because it's important to wipe the rosin dust and perspiration off of your instrument after practicing or performing. I recommend using a cloth made of an untreated microporous fabric such as this Shar Cleaning Cloth

5. Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls or Q-tips - Every few months, I clean my strings and fingerboard with a cotton ball or Q-tip and a small drop of rubbing alcohol to get rid of any rosin build up. 

6. Endpin Stopper - I always keep at least one endpin stopper or "rock stop" in my bag for practicing. Endpin stoppers are used prevent the cello from slipping, as well as protect the floor from getting scratched. I recommend using an endpin stopper with a strap to ensure that it doesn't slip. 

7. Tuner and metronome - I like to use an app for my tuner and metronome, but if you want something more heavy-duty, I recommend Boss tuners and metronomes. 

8. Mutes - A mute is a device that dampens the sound of the cello without compromising the tonal quality of the instrument. It is required to perform certain solo, chamber, and orchestral pieces. They are very small and easy to lose, so I like to keep an extra in my music bag just in case. I also keep a practice mute in my bag, which I use when I don’t want to disturb my neighbors or roommates while practicing.

9. Notebook or journal - I always have a practice journal with me to stay organized. Practice journals are a helpful tool to structure and analyze your practice sessions. You can use any blank notebook or calendar as your practice journal. 

10. Erasable pens - Musicians usually write in their sheet music with pencils because it's important to be able to erase markings if need be. I like to use erasable pens because they provides darker, more legible markings while still being able to erase any mistakes. Pens are also beneficial because they can come in different colors, which is great for color coding notes and markings. I recommend a colorful set of Pilot Fine Point Erasable Gel Pens.

11. Nail clippers - It's no secret that you need to have short nails to play the cello effectively. It's the worst feeling to get to your practice room and realize that your nails are too long to play.  I like to keep a nail clipper in my music bag so my nails don't get in the way of practicing. 

12. Extra set of strings - It's always good to have a spare set of strings with you in case one of them snaps. I recommend a high quality set of string such as Larsen and Spirocore Cello String Set.

13. Humidifier - If you live in a particularly dry location, you can use a cello humidifier to protect your instrument from damage due to excessive dryness, such as cracking and warping. A cello humidifier is a soft rubber sleeve that encloses a sponge that you dampen and insert into the cello's F-hole. 

14. Water bottle - I always keep a water bottle with me when I'm practicing. Staying hydrated can help you get more done in the practice room. 

15. Snacks - Last but not least, I like to keep snacks in my bag in case I need a pick-me-up before a rehearsal or performance. I recommend healthy snacks that don't need to be refrigerated, such as trail mix, granola, rice cakes or crackers with peanut butter, and energy bars.