Reed care is one of the primary ways to continuously produce the best sound possible. And when you properly care for your reeds it can provide a financial benefit of not having to buy reeds as often as you would without proper reed care. Students should always be consulting their directors & lesson teachers for advice on what kind of reeds to get, or adjustments to the reeds they currently have.
Here are some easy tips that every reed player should follow:
Always rotate through a minimum of 3-4 reeds.
- Rotating one reed per day will give the reeds the time they need to break-in & dry-out properly.
- If you have a 3 reed case and you play a reed on Monday then you will not play on that same reed again until Thursday.
Allow for proper soaking.
- The reed needs to be properly soaked and wet for it to vibrate properly.
- If you under soak the reed, you run the risk of it cracking and being hard to play.
- If you over soak it, the reed will be too soft and unable to support the air stream produced.
Soaking the reed in water (water is less corrosive than saliva) while putting together your instrument should be about enough time.
- 2-5 minutes for oboe, clarinet, & saxophone
- 5-10 minutes for bassoon
Allow for proper drying.
- Reeds will mold if they are constantly wet. Rotating through your reeds will ensure that the reed you played one day has enough time to completely dry out, prolonging the life of the reed.
- Always have at least 3-4 reeds in your case.
Always have a few (at least 2 or 3) reeds that are "concert ready."
- You can achieve this by always rotating through your reeds.
- It may take a couple weeks to have "decent" sounding reeds but ensemble rehearsals and home practice are the best places to break-in reeds.
- This will ensure that each reed has been vibrated and broke-in enough to be ready in the case of an emergency.
NEVER store a reed on the mouthpiece.
- Leaving a reed on the mouthpiece is the fastest way to ruin it.
- Instead, you should store your reeds in a proper reed case that holds at least 4 reeds.
- Proper storage helps protect them from warping, chipping, and lets them dry properly.
- Buy a new box of reeds when you have 2-3 unused reeds left in the box.
You never want to be in a situation where you don't have enough reeds to cover an emergency. We all tend to buy reeds right before a concert or right before an audition. If you are in middle school or high school, that means that probably every clarinet player in your county wants to buy that box of #3 reeds at the same time you do. Plan ahead and buy a box before you actually need it. That way you won't be stressing out over needing reeds, which takes away from your focus on performing.