Good Reeds

There ought to be an app that keeps track of reeds. And it should be called Good Reeds.

There probably is. But maybe Goodreads told them to change their name.

I currently use a little notebook documenting the date I open new reeds, the amount of time in subsequent days I play them (usually five minutes), the temperature, and the humidity of each day I play on them as I break the reeds in. And I rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 according to how the feel as I play them. It usually takes about a week to break a reed in to my liking.

It’s been a decent system so far, and I’m currently using some real winners. But I’m also trying to be patient with what seem to be duds. And since I’ve learned how to sand duds into sounding better, I can’t say that very many reeds would go to waste.

I did purchase a synthetic reed today, Legère brand. Opened the package, placed the reed on the mouthpiece. It was immediately ready to go. And the strength of the reed felt really good. Great response and projection. One of those almost cost as much as a box of Vandoren V12s, 3.5 strength, but one of those should last as long as an entire box of bamboo reeds.

I tested the reed on my student clarinet. I can’t wait to get my intermediate clarinet back from the shop. I can’t believe it took a reed to get me extremely excited again about playing.

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It rained today, giving some relief to the land after a pretty intense drought. We hope to get more rain throughout the summer. We hope more people are thinking about water conservation more than they are trying to keep their lawns green.

Fixing Clarinets

Today I took my newer, not-my-33-year-old-student-model, Bb clarinet to the shop. I told the repairman it needed its yearly maintenance tune-up and to look at the transition between open G and B5: the seal might not be completely closed for a smooth jump up the register. He said that my place in the queue puts repairs about 10 days out.

So I can play my student model and/or my A clarinet in the meantime.

I also took my Gretsch metal clarinet apart today. The head on one of the screws had worn completely flat, so I spent some time gently hammering my smallest flathead screwdriver into that screw to form a groove deep enough for unscrewing. It got to where if I pushed hard enough into the screw and turned lefty-loosey, enough of the screw would be above the hole for me to unscrew the rest using needlenose pliers.

Glad that worked.

Gotta look at the springs and clean the keys and screws; replace the rest of the pads. Then put it all back together. I wonder if I have to buy a junk metal clarinet for parts just so that I get screws the right length. The repair kit I have is for modern clarinets, and not all the screws are the same size as those from the metal clarinet. Most of the screws are still good, though–it’s just the one that has a bad head.

It looks cool. Even if I don’t get it playing perfectly or at all, working on it is pretty fun.

Clarinet Update

I’m in the middle of breaking in some new reeds. And I’ve just been working on a staccato exercise quartet. I’ve recorded it before, but I didn’t push the tempo. This time I’ve been practicing this cute little 3/8 piece with three eighth notes = 144 beats/minute. It feels good to play it at that speed. We’ll see if it sounds good.

Here is the next repair project, which arrived this afternoon:

The tarnish on this clarinet looks really cool, so I probably won’t polish it. The instrument doesn’t play, though. After an initial tinkering around, it looks like a total take-apart job. Replacing pads and springs. The whole thing is leaky.

This evening I also watched this discussion between Peter Cigleris and Michelle Anderson, clarinetists who play on Backun clarinets.

Cigleris uncovered a bunch of unperformed early British clarinet music and recorded an album:

It sounds really lovely. And during this discussion Cigleri pointed out a lot of the composers were women, which is really cool.