Yesterday I shaped cane and wound some reeds. Carving on these, the cane felt “just right”. I don’t know how to explain this to you, but I like to say the can is “like butter” in that the knife just seems to take cane off in a smooth way. It doesn’t feel too hard. But it also doesn’t feel squishy soft.

I played a couple of them during lessons, and while they weren’t great, they showed potential. (I rarely play my good reeds during my students’ lessons; it’s a great time to start up new reeds, my students get to hear me at my “new reed state” which I think might help them understand that we all go through the reed issues. And, mostly, I’m too worried about wearing out the reeds I like the most which I prefer to save for performances. Of course this probably means my students think I’m quite a hack!) So after lessons they get to sit on my shelf and think about life. Do they really want to live? Do they want to please me? Only time will tell.

Today I’ll sit down, shape more cane, wind a few more reeds, and see what yesterday’s reeds are thinking as of today. I do know that this wet weather makes reed making a bit more pleasant. The extremely cold dry weather we were having isn’t my cuppa … nor is it my reeds’.

Meanwhile I’m having my latté and listening to the “album” that Brandon is on. (Isn’t it odd that this is called an album? We need a new word, don’t you think? It’s not an album. It’s not a disk. Hmm.) Some folks are grumping because you have to purchase the entire “album”. Whatever. My kid is on it, so I purchased it. (But I won’t leave a comment … wouldn’t want to get labeled a “shill” … a word I just learned, believe it or not.) If you aren’t on emusic, or if you aren’t into downloading an entire album, but are curious about what an oboe player’s son might do musically (nothing at all like what I do, btw), you can always check out his free tracks at Altair Nouveau. (And yeah, that’s a sketch he drew of himself.)

Yeah, I’m a proud mama. Deal.

And just one more thing…
Yes, I watched Top Chef last night. Maybe I like it partly because it’s sort of like auditions; each week the chefs are (supposed to be) judged purely on that particular meal/assignment. (I actually think they do take other things into consideration, but I’m only guessing.) Even while some of the chefs annoy me, I hate seeing them get dismissed, for the most part. I’ve not done a whole lot of auditions, but I’ve been hired to do jobs and, a few years later, get taken off the list. I know how it is to put one’s self out there and give it all you’ve got and later be told, “Not good enough.” Kinda hurts. Big time.


  1. Oh boy, lots o’ stuff here 😀 – I much appreciated you trying that new reed yesterday especially during the Gekeler duet, with all the low Bs and A#s in your part (unfortunately it did not quite distract you enough from noticing my mistakes – maybe next time? Why no, I’m not holding my breath…). And I did, for the first time ever (well, it has been only a little over a year, I guess), notice a couple of no-speaky low notes from you on that one brand-new half-done reed – that is honestly the first time I can remember you missing even one note during a lesson (you hack you).

    On the not-called-back thing, it isn’t about how well you perform so much as about the personal preconceptions of the person doing the casting, in my opinion. I know at least one (amateur) conductor who used to call me first when assembling a pit, and others who couldn’t seem to wait to get rid of me (or put someone else in, whatever) no matter how I played (or which part I was stuck with despite relative abilities).

    Humans be humans.

    Except me, of course. I’m super-human. 🙂

  2. I’ve been going through that all week – our weather is so squirrely the cane is behaving badly! At least I’m on EH this weekend so it should be a bit more comfortable.

  3. You crack me up, Tim. If you haven’t heard me miss notes during lessons it’s because you are paying more attention to your own playing. I miss plenty! 🙂

    On the not being called back: sometimes it’s a power thing. There’s a contractor here who likes to keep folks on edge. I’m glad to be done with that sort of thing, so not getting called is just fine by me. (Although the money is missed.)

    Cecioboe: What are you playing? Fill us in! 🙂

  4. I made 4 reeds this morning and one of them is honestly the best reed I have ever made, hands down. Where was this before my Master’s Recital? I mean seriously! Actually its not even a very pretty reed. I was watching an episode of xfiles while hacking away at this reed and nearly dug the heart out while doing windows.

    Perhaps I need to free my mind? It has been a lot warmer here in florida (and it rained this morning) which seems to help my reeds soak up a bit more moisture.

  5. If I make a reed in one sitting it won’t be the same the next day. You manage to make that work for you, Joe? I really have to let them sit and think about life for a while. Then I have to do more work on them at a later time. Go figure.

  6. I should have probably clarified. I finished 4 reeds :). I typically make a reed over 3-4 days. In a total emergency I can make a reed in one day but it usually ends up quite…poor. Lately I spend about 3 hours making reeds a day since I have a lot of cane and a lot of downtime in the mornings. I have been trying to get over some biting problems so I’m reducing my overall play time to try to relax a bit in the muscle department.

  7. Ah, got it, Joe! I thought you were one of those “Make a reed in an hour and it’s fantabulous and lasts for a good long time” sorts who I was going to have to hate forever. 😉

    Hmmm. IS there anyone who can “Make a reed in an hour and it’s fantabulous and lasts for a good long time”??

    Kinda doubt it.

  8. Valentine’s concert – lots of pop love songs – big mushy solos on EH 🙂

  9. Oh I love doing those on occasion … just kind of fun, and usually not stressful. 🙂

  10. Patty, at UNCG one of the master’s students used to make reeds right before concerts. I dont know how long they lasted but I have a memory of oboe-like sounds. Whenever I cram a reed it has a tiny opening that i’m fiddling around with more than i’m playing. I’m a pretty bad reed maker. It costs more more to make mine lately but I like the practice. One day I will be a mediocre reed maker. Then i will be happy.

  11. I know at least one university instructor who has her students make and play a new reed daily. I just can’t imagine!

    So do you purchase the reeds you play on professionally, Joe? (I would if I could, to be honest, but I just don’t like anybody’s reeds enough to spend the bucks!)

  12. Well fortunately (or unfortunately?) I have not had a professional oboe gig in a few months so my not-so-large stock of joseph-started and professor-approved (fixed) reeds is not quite depleted. When I was just doing saxophone I always had about 40 reeds ready to go so i’ve done my best to transfer that mentality to oboe. I start to panic with only 20.

    I have yet to find someone I can really buy reeds from. I tried a few from Good Tone Guild but I ordered them as hard as possible so I could finish them on my own. They weren’t much thinner than a blank but great practice! Felt a little like tracing a picture. They worked fairly well but they all came short and my oboe is anything but flat. I had to do what I always frown upon and pull out on the reed. They were practice reeds but the best I’ve had so far. When I was in high school i bought Dunkel Reeds. Now that I actually know something about oboe [don’t laugh, but I didnt know that C# wasn’t just an open note for a long time] I may try them again.

    Right now I have one teacher for playing lessons and one teacher for reed lessons so it is working out to be expensive but very helpful. I can walk in with 10 reeds I am finished with and walk out with at least 5-6 in great shape [of course at the rate i’m playing oboe that barely lasts]. My biggest thing lately is that I seem to be completely unaware of the heart of the reed and my windows are gigantic. I’ve been tempted to try a U-scrape reed just because it seems a little easier to make but i’m sure its not.

    Since i’m in a ‘saftey’ mode where I am focusing on teaching it seems like a great time to make a lot of bad reeds. Its how we learn i’ve been told.

  13. Whoa, you sure have more reeds than I ever do, Joe. (I’m talking playable reeds; I of course have a ton I hate, but I don’t count those.)

    My students purchase reeds from Mike Adduci. (He’s out of commission for a few weeks though.) I don’t care for the ones you mention above.

    I can’t imagine making a U-scrape. But that’s just me.

  14. On single reeds its easy to get a lot of playable reeds (i never would have said that out loud if it wasn’t for oboe…even bassoonists have it easier than oboe imho). I just got so dependent on having so many reeds that the idea of only having a few playable reeds is terrifying to me. Plus, as you certainly know, my reeds are temperamental. I think sometimes they just plain aren’t in the mood.

    One of the bonuses of having a part time job in the morning where I literally babysit technology is a lot of down time that goes to reed making. I’m locked in a room with a lot of cane and a knife and since i’m in my own building (let alone office) no one seems to mind/notice if I bring my oboe to test the reeds i’m making. I used to read but now I reed (ok i’m sorry).

    I think it might be fun to try a U-scrape but not until I know what i’m doing with the long scrape.

    I’ll look up Adduci… i’m pretty lucky to have a good reed teacher that helps me out but it never hurts to have options.