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Do your oboe students rotate their reeds?

I’ve been checking in with my beginner students this week about their newly broken in reeds (they were assigned to break in 1 or 2 new reeds over the last 2 weeks), and noticed that they’ve all forgotten to rotate between reeds. In fact, even some of my most advanced students keep adjusting one older reed because it’s so comfortable and they don’t want to play on their newer reeds. So today I’m going to address reed rotation and why it’s so important.


“Reed Rotation” is the practice of rotating which reeds are used so all reeds are played evenly.


Having two or more reeds that are comfortably playable will prevent reed emergencies from happening! The only way to make sure that 2 or more reeds are comfortable to play is by playing them frequently and alternating which reed is played each day.

How can students tell their reeds apart?

Often reeds come with the same thread, and it can be hard to tell them apart in the reed case. In that situation, I recommend that students do one of the following things to differentiate between their reeds:

  • Use a sharpie and write something on the thread (it could be numbers, 1, 2, 3, etc. or letters or shapes)

  • Paint glitter nail polish over the thread in different colors (allow the nail polish to dry completely before putting the reed in your case!)

  • Write on the top of the cork (as above, it could be numbers: 1, 2, 3, etc. or letters, or shapes)

Buy one extra reed when you’re buying new reeds.

Keep the extra reed somewhere safe at home, then when one of the reeds in rotation breaks or becomes too old to play, take out that extra reed and order more new reeds! Staying prepared with one extra reed will prevent possible concerts played on reeds that are too old and don’t play well.

Until next week,



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