|The new Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN|
This past week I had the pleasure of being able to attend the International Clarinet-Fest which took place at California State University Northridge, just outside Los Angeles. It was a great time with many opportunities to learn from great teachers, see amazing performances, and try out some new products. I will be doing several posts based on the things I experienced and learned there. This post being the first. Some things to expect later are my notes on masterclasses done by Yehuda Gilad, Ricardo Morales, Richie Hawley, and Philippe Berod.
On Friday afternoon a attended a lecture lead by Robert DiLutis all about clarinet reeds. During the class he discussed his process for breaking in and adjusting reeds.
Breaking in Reeds
Day 1 - The Day the Box is Opened
Step 1 - Polishing
Take each reed out of the box and discard their holders (the small plastic or cardboard "cases" they come in). Set the reed on a piece of glass or plexiglass and, using the paper back of a piece of sandpaper (600-grit), polish the vamp and the back of the reed. This is done by rubbing the paper over the surfaces of the reed for several seconds.
Step 2 - Wet and Store the Reeds
After all of the reeds are polished, wet them one at a time. To do this place the reed in your mouth for about one second and then place it, without a case, into a plastic, Ziploc bag. Once all of the reeds have been placed into the bag, seal it and let them sit for 24 hours.
Step 1 - Polishing
Repeat the process described in Step 1 of Day 1.
Step 2 - Date Reeds
Take each reed and, using a Sharpie, write the current date on the bottom of the reed to help you keep track of how old they are. Mr. DiLutis likes to keep track of all his reeds in a small notebook. It helps him know what they play like and how much they have been used.
Step 3 - Testing the Reeds
Put each reed in your mouth for a few seconds. Once wet place it on the mouthpiece and, holding it in place with your thumb (ligature-less), play an open G.
Step 4 - Evaluate the Reeds
After playing the open G, think about how to label the reed. Was it stuffy, hard, soft, buzzy, etc? Make your choice and then mark the reed accordingly. ("S" for stuffy, "B" for buzzy, etc.) After marking, place it back into the bag.
Step 5 - Adjust Immediately
Now it is time to start making the adjustments necessary to create a quality reed. This part of the lecture will be covered in my next post.