Friday, March 4, 2011

Back to reeds

This is my favorite reed tool. It's the ultrasonic cleaner I got awhile back, designed for jewelry, but used by many players. Since I became convinced that the primary aging mechanism for reeds is becoming encrusted with foreign matter (mostly skin cells from the lips), I've been pretty religious about cleaning my reeds with this after every use. Hot water is better, with a bit of dish soap to help cavitation get started. Last fall sometime I found that one of my reeds played much better than the others. Mindful of the advice to practice only on good reeds, rather than treasuring it and continuing to spend hours making new reeds, I decided that I'd progress faster by spending my time practicing while playing only on my best reed. I started this in I think October, and played that reed basically exclusively until mid-February, so perhaps 16 weeks. At ten hours of playing a week, it was good for some hundreds of hours of playing. Not bad, I should post a picture of that hardy little reed. (It came from a piece of Neuranter cane, so I ordered some more of this today.) This reed did start to die, though, and adjustments seemed to start fraying the tip, so I moved on. At my lesson last night M tried to smooth out some of my work on the newer one. The E kinda dropped, and F was unstable. something I'd noticed in my tape of the Mozart rehearsal too, though I didn't notice at the time. Cropping it back didn't help much, and we eventually decided it was just too soft cane. Next week we'll only be working reeds, so I'd better try and finish a few to bring in and fix up. I have a few sitting on tips, waiting for finishing, and I also have a few pieces that have been soaking for weeks, waiting for me to find time to form tubes. Too many projects, not enough energy.

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