I wish “Reed Day” meant that it was pouring reeds and I had to stay home because of that. But, woe is me (woe is I .. you choose), that is not what it means. So today I’ll go exercise (I’m really not sure how long I’ll last—being up past midnight really takes its toll on this old body—but I know I have to at least go and try. I’m hoping that will help me get moving and energize me for a day of reed work.

Of course I’m also hoping that, while I’m away from home, the reed elves will drop off a few reeds that are just my “size”.

I can dream, can’t I?

I was thinking about the curse of the oboe reed; what other instrumentalists deal with this curse? There’s bassoon, although I believe that the bigger the reed, the less the difficulty (it’s certainly that way with English horn). Clarinetists and saxophonists deal with the reed issue, although they don’t make their reeds from scratch. Are there any other instrumentalists who must work on their equipment? It’s often very frustrating because we reed folk can’t just pick up the instrument and work; we have to work on reeds first. Is that fair? No. No it’s not.

And is there any other profession where an individual has to work on equipment like we do? I’m not coming up with anything. We also have to cover all the costs of this lovely requirement. It’s not cheap.

Ah well. That’s life in the big city. I just felt like whining. It’s a great way to start the day, you know?

Of course I remind myself of what I tell students: Learn to play well on bad reeds. Everyone will have a bad reed now and then. So it’s just a given that one must play well on them.

Oh … and if you are a master reed maker and you want to be kind to a non-master reed maker, you can always send me reeds! I’ll even blog about them if they work for me. Big time. REALLY big time. PO Box 8655. San Jose. 95155-8655. Stick ’em in a box. Send ’em. It’s that easy. 🙂

Surely there’s one or two reed elves out there? Ya think?


  1. Jennifer Grucza

    I heard a story the other day about two oboe students who went to my college (not music majors – our school rarely gets any of those, and they usually double major with something like physics or math).  One student kept improving from freshman through senior year, but the other student actually got worse as the years went by.  The reason was eventually revealed – the second student had been playing on the same reed the whole time!  I heard this from a (horn) teacher, so I have no reason not to believe it’s true, but is it even physically possible for a reed to last years?

    I admit, before I began reading your blog, I had no idea that oboists had to go through so much work just to play their instruments.  The most I have to do on a daily basis is rosin my bow, tune the strings, and soak my damp-it in water so the seams on my instrument don’t start opening up (like they always do in the winter).

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    It does make for an “interesting” life, Jennifer, that’s for sure. My mood often depends upon the quality of my reeds. How pathetic is that?!

    I spend more time on reeds than on practicing. Sigh.

    I can actually (sadly) believe your story about the oboe player in college. I hate to see what that reed looked like, though. Yikes.