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Spring Reed Drama and a 2-part solution

Happy St. Patrick’s week! 🍀 This week we’re springing forward into mid-semester concerts, Youth Orchestra audition prep, and wondering if our students have any functional reeds. I have two steps to mitigate reed drama below, and a short explanation of why it happens. ​ I notice a few times each year that all my reeds stop working around the same time - usually in October-ish and March-ish. These annual times of reed drama stem from the rapidly fluctuating temperatures and humidity and the sensitivity of our delicate reeds. Your students may experience this drama when their reeds suddenly and inexplicably crack down the middle, or stop vibrating altogether. Yes, it’s the spring reed drama season! The first part of the solution is to anticipate that it will happen, and provide yourself with more reed options. Students should order at least 3 reeds at a time and play on 2 reeds at all times. Hopefully the third reed can be a back-up for when the 2 normal/broken in reeds die or won’t work. I know it’s hard to remember to order reeds on a regular schedule, so I recommend brands that offer reed subscriptions so the student gets a shipment of reeds on a regular schedule and they don’t have to remember to order new ones. ​ ​The second part of the solution is to maintain a consistent relative humidity around the reeds. To this end I created a handy printable guide to making a DIY reed case humidification system. It’s very simple and easy for students to do on their own.

DIY Reed Humidification:

A 5 minute guide for students!

Basically a damp sponge keeps a consistent humidity inside the plastic bag, and that way reeds stay in a stable environment when not in use. I’ve noticed that my reeds have extended life, soak up quicker, and play more consistently regardless of the weather outside.

This is what my very big reed case (holds 50 reeds) looks like in my humidification system. ​ That's all for today - I wish you a wonderful week! Alli

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