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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Some thoughts on reed making


Who should learn how to make reeds? 
Definitely all oboists aspiring to professional levels should learn how to make reeds. All others are absolutely encouraged to learn. If you are an oboist,  you do not HAVE to learn reed making, but otherwise you must somehow supply yourself with at least 2 working reeds that play consistently at proper pitch for ensembles, practice, and lesson work. Buying reeds can be expensive and hit-or-miss in quality, and you may have to wait for shipments to arrive due to backorders, reed makers going out of business, etc.


Some ground rules for reed making:

  1. Reed making is sometimes difficult and frustrating to learn. Do your best to keep a positive outlook and keep working at it!  Like most new endeavors, you will not instantly be good at reedmaking. Things WILL get better/easier in time with regular practice. I challenge you to try to learn at least 1 or 2 new things from EACH reed that you make. And sometimes we learn the most from the failures.
  2. The only way to learn how to consistently make good reeds is to continuously be working on them. If you study reed making in a class or lessons, once you have learned how to tie reeds, please bring in at least 2 newly tied reeds with initial scrapings completed each week. These reeds should be free of air leaks and have the tips intact. (So,  yes,  that means there may be a pile of reeds that didn’t make the “cut” each week)

    Set aside time outside of your practice times to specifically work on making reeds. You may need to set aside more time than you initially thought! You may spend more time making reeds some weeks than practicing. Don't be surprised when those weeks happen. In time you'll get faster at reed making. But you'll have to invest a lot of time for the first several years that you are learning.

  3. Reed class is a time for learning new techniques, refining your understanding of reeds, etc. I have been making reeds independently since 1993. That said,  I (and every other professional oboist and reed maker worth their salt) seek out all opportunities to learn from one another, grow and improve. I hope you do too.
  4. Use your time in reed classes wisely. Showing up late, eating food, sugary drinks, texting, etc is NOT appropriate use of your time in reed class.
  5. When in a reed class, the teacher can’t scrape on multiple reeds at the same time. However,  each of you should be paying attention to the work the teacher is doing on each other’s reeds. (Go back and read #3 for rationale)
  6. Not every reed that you bring to reed class will turn into a concert-ready reed. We aren’t alchemists,  so don’t put all hopes into just one reed and do your best to have back-ups at the ready.
  7. Reed making is sometimes difficult and frustrating to learn. Do your best to keep a positive outlook and keep working at it!  Like most new endeavors, you will not instantly be good at reedmaking. Things WILL get better/easier in time with regular practice. I challenge you to try to learn at least 1 or 2 new things from EACH reed that you make. (I can’t stress this enough)