Thursday, August 05, 2010

Day 4: Reeds

Well, so much for practicing every day. I am trying though, and this is a good average for the time being.

I teach the oboe section of Woodwind Methods at Simpson College, and as I barely have time to make my own reeds these days, I'm totally fine with buying reeds for the students. They're student reeds made by Cooper Wright, and they're pretty consistent. With classes starting at the end of August, Cooper was really on the ball and sent my reed order out this week. Today I had time to go through about half the reeds while the boys were at child care. Without going into too much detail here, I just had to clip a couple, and if there's a problem with any of them, it's that the low notes don't speak easily with what I call a "beginner's embouchure". Meaning, I can get low notes to speak, but for students who have no wind instrument experience and only 5 classes to learn to the oboe, they may have a hard time with some of them. They're in tune and have a good sound, which makes a big difference with methods class students (and any other beginner!).

I practiced on half the reeds, testing as I went along. Today I played the first page of Whitney Tustin's Technical Exercises, a great method book if you want a more structured technical practice routine. I played for about half an hour, and I was reminded, yet again, how out of shape I really am.

Oboists (clarinetists, saxophonists, bassoonists...): Do you ever wish you could just pick up your instrument and practice?? Without having to worry about those pesky reeds that take up so much time?? Sometimes I envy flutists and brass players...

4 comments:

Stephen said...

Jean-Yves Fourmeau said once 'Don't take "no" from an inanimate object'. Still, the reeds say no... So maddening!

Cooper Wright said...

Hey, that's me! Glad the reeds are consistent enough that your kids can play on them. Hope they weren't too much trouble!

Bret said...

Is Fourmeau the originator of that saying? I had an oboe teacher that used to say it to me.

I often have many of my instruments (I'm a doubler) sitting on stands in my office, but the flute is, for sure, the one I grab when I just need to play a few notes, make a quick demonstration, etc. No soaking, no fiddling with ligatures, just pick it up and go.

patty said...

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I'd pay $1000 for an "eternal reed" ... heck, I'd probably pay even more. I absolutely hate that our instrument is different all the time, due to the pesky reeds!