Sarah, at A Glass of Chianti writes about a new student she has who is asking for a clarinet reed. Check it out. Black reeds?? Yikes! This is what some teachers have to deal with. Sigh.

But reeds. Reeds, reeds, reeds. Will the horror never end?

This past year I have been ordering oboe reeds from various suppliers. One has provided me with a few reeds that are so playable that I actually used them for Les Mis! (Yes, I am admitting this here; I didn’t use one reed of my own making for the entire 7 week run.) Unfortunately about 3/4 of the reeds she sent, though, wouldn’t work for me at all. Because those few worked so well she and I might try to figure out what the problem is and see if she can become my students’ reed supplier. All the rest of the suppliers simply made reeds I couldn’t use. At all. Either the overlap was on the wrong side (very common problem, by the way), they leaked, or were otherwise unplayable. Now these reed makers are also oboists, and they use reeds just like the ones they sent me, so obviously we either use entirely different embouchures (quite possible, as I take in very little reed and some folks nearly swallow the thing), the reeds act differently in their neck of the woods (temperature, humidity … they do play a part), or they play on even worse reeds than I make! Believe me, I can make some mighty rotten reeds! But I will continue to work with the one very patient woman if she’s willing, and I will continue to search for others that I like.

Meanwhile, I have to get my own act together and start working on reeds again. During Les Mis I had no desire to even look at a reed when I wasn’t performing or teaching. Now that I have some time, yours truly is going to have to bite the bullet.

Any of you out there want to shame me? Do it! Tell me how many reeds you are working on? Tell me how quickly you can put one together? I don’t mind a little shame now and then.

And if you want to send me a reed, you know I’d let you. 😉


  1. You double reeders have all of my
    respect with the reed issues that you deal with.  I get a box and
    have to work on them for a couple of hours over the course of a week
    and they’re ready to be put in the rotation and fine tuned.  Even
    worse is that I play a good sixty-five percent of the time on a
    synthetic Legere reed, which means even less reedworking time is
    necessary for me.  You guys, though.  Wow.  It’s insane
    what you have to go through to get a decent reed. 

    My students are really awesome, though.  The best in the world, as
    a matter of fact.  I just inherited a bunch of students from
    another teacher who is moving out East.  They’re just going to
    have to get used to not playing on mold.  What a pity for
    them!  😉

  2. Haha Patty!  You’ve been bad.  You need to embrace the reed-making goddess in you .  Ok, let me stop being silly now.

    I know it’s a pain.  I too had been procrastinating with my reed making.  But since I had a lesson yesterday I knew I had to take something in.  I made two reeds on Saturday.  Spent nearly two hours on one and a little less on the other.  When I showed them to my teacher she kind of chuckled because they both still had way too much cane.  So she worked on one for about another 30 minutes and now that one is decent.  It would be nice to make an entire reed in under an hour some day.

    The good news is that now I can tie a blank with no leaks!

    When I asked if I should be working on a reed a week she responded that I should be working on 2-3.  Yikes!  Time to buy more supplies.  *grumble*

    And hey, when I get really good at reed making, I’ll send you one for sure hehe.



  3. Patricia Mitchell

    Well, there IS a reason (at least one) that oboists are considered the neurotic ones! 😉

    I have had students come in with reeds that sound muffled. I put a pipe cleaner through those reeds and there are times when I do think I’m going to be sick, they are so disgusting! But the poor students who are in school bands … they don’t give them a “tooth brushing time”, so I can understand why all sorts of things like to grow in their reeds.

    Doesn’t make it any less disgusting though!

    I’m with you … my students are awesome as well, Sarah.

    And I’m really enjoying your site!

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Hilda, I AM bad! And lazy, too! 🙂

    I’m going to be checking my mailbox for Hilda reeds. Tee hee.

    But seriously … yeah, we should all be working on at least 3 reeds a week. I’ve never been good at doing what I should be doing, though!