I'm looking forward to trying some of Cooper's reeds, which are on their way to me! With the exception of the occasional English horn reeds I buy from Cheryl at Cascade Oboe Reeds (a friend from Eugene), I have not bought reeds since high school...ok, maybe some in university as I was learning reed-making.
I checked out Cooper's blog this morning and saw that he had a new all-oboe blog. Exciting! I will add it to my links! Much to my surprise (I surprise easily), I am in the title/subject of one of his postings! Click here.
A lot of oboists are macho about reed-making. Even the bad reed-makers (eckghem...rhymes with Smillian Jamwell) will often suffer through sessions rather than buy reeds from someone else. Once you get to a certain level of playing, even if your reed-making is not at that same level, it's difficult to adapt to someone else's reeds. I guess part of it is ego, but mainly it's personal taste. Young oboe students, while developing their own playing style, will not likely have the discriminating tastes of more advanced players. They're getting to know their embouchure, and they're getting over the technical hurdles of playing the instrument itself. Still, it's extremely important for these students to play on good reeds. The more time you spend in the field (suffering for your art, as I do with reed-making!!), the pickier you become about reeds. The frustration of reed-making is thus compounded by your desire for a good reed and the knowledge of what one feels like. Oboists are particularly critical about other oboists' reeds. If reed-makers (including Cooper, who I sincerely hope has a successful time building his reed business in Eugene!) receive rave reviews, that's a huge boost to their business. Most of the time with purchased reeds (even those made personally for us), we have to adjust them slightly to our own needs and tastes.
All that being said, I would love to throw away my knives and never have to make reeds again. Dave said this morning (upon reading Cooper's blog), "Wouldn't it be crazy if this was all it took?" (Read: "all it would take for you to regain your sanity?") I've often wondered if there was a reed-maker out there somewhere that would let me toss my macho attitude about reeds out the window (instead of throwing my reeds out the window--tempting at times). I don't think so--not completely anyway--but I'm certainly willing to try! (And if they're not perfect for me, odds are they'll still be 200% better than what my oboe students are playing on--consistancy, people!) If anything, trying other people's reeds may give you an insight to something that wasn't quite working in your own reed-making. I try to get advice from any and every oboist I sit down with, and bits and pieces of their advice over the years have really worked for me. Put them all together, and hopefully a light will go off. Ray Still was not joking when he said it took 25 years to learn how to make a reed. I still have 15 left, so I'm okay...right?