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Showing posts from August, 2017

Five Minute Reedmaker: Cane Preparation

I had a request for this next video topic:

Anish wrote: Hi Jennet! :) I was wondering if you could do a video sometime on your preliminary processes with cane- you seem to get a reed vibrating beautifully very quickly from the get-go and I am curious as to what you look for when selecting cane and what you gouged to etc before you even tie the reed.

Maybe I'm the wrong person to answer these questions - I am NOT fussy about cane.  I did a project a long time ago for a colleague, in which I worked through multiple pieces of cane from dozens of different batches she'd purchased long ago, trying to determine which bags of cane were worth keeping and which should be discarded.

What I learned is that EVERYTHING makes a reed. Sometimes I have to work a little harder,  if the cane is reluctant to vibrate. Sometimes the diameter doesn't suit me well, and I have to mash the opening down.  On rare occasions, it's true that the cane is too wormy or too shreddy to be scrapable - …

Five Minute Reedmaker: The Long Scrape

The long scrape seems like it should be a gimme.  You have to get the bark off before you can start to truly scrape the reed, and it doesn’t seem like it should matter too much HOW you do it.  But I find that a good, consistent long scrape technique can really set you up for success in the remaining construction of your reed.

The function of this initial scrape is to remove the bark from the lay of the reed, AND to start some pathways for the vibration.  Oboe reeds are made up of slopes and stops, or ramps and steps, and my preference is to have a good long slope in place foundationally, so I can start working on my reed from a place of vibration and add stops, rather than working from a stopped place and scraping forever to try to encourage vibration to start.

When I put this initial long scrape in, I have three big factors I keep in mind.

The first is that the reed has two planes on each blade.  If you think of the curvature of the cane like the arc of a circle, and picture that t…

Integrity

When I see a slur that isn't an easy one on the oboe, I'm apt to cheat.  In my practice room I work hard on slurs like that, but in the moment, when people can hear me, I might add a little tongue to ease the transition, or add a few fingers to make the arrival safer.  The re-articulated result may not be exactly what the composer intended, and the fake fingering might not sound precisely like the other one would have, but it's close enough to fool an audience and it keeps me safe.

At the end of a phrase, to avoid the embarrassment of hanging over after other people have cut off, I might taper my note off just a little early.  I might play the final note very very softly to make sure it doesn't stick out.  I might use a muted fingering for the same reason.  These are orchestra tricks - they keep me safe, but they won't sound good when I'm playing by myself, and they're not good musical choices, and they don't feel honest.

This summer I'm learning …

Reed Repair Shop #1, and a new Five Minute Reedmaker video

Just a quick note today.  I've posted my first Reed Repair Shop video, along with my FOURTH short Five Minute Reedmaker reed lesson.  My goal is to help people who feel insecure about their reeds, people who need just a little more clarity on certain aspects of reed making, and people who ARE reed makers but have gotten themselves into a slump in some way.

Reed Repair Shop #1: Anthony's reeds are pretty good!  They work, they play in tune, and they look like reeds.  His stated concerns were tone and response, and I think I was able to offer some good suggestions.

watch Anthony's video HERE  or below.


Would you like me to look at YOUR reeds?  Check out my offering HERE.

My fourth Five Minute Reedmaker video is a walkthrough of winding - the process by which the cane is attached to the staple.



Let me know what you'd like to see me cover on a future episode!

Two New Reed Initiatives

I've been working hard on these next roll-outs.  You probably know from reading this blog that I've been running an Oboe Reed Boot Camp every summer since 2012, and that a couple of years ago I started offering Reeding Circles - social reed-making get-togethers - each month during the year.

The limitation, in both cases, is location.  There's not a huge mass of oboists where I live, and it's hard to get a large enough group together - anywhere, really - to make a traveling Boot Camp worthwhile, though I do love the concept.  (Do you have five or more interested oboists and a free weekend?  Get in touch!)

But there is a need.  People do have questions, and frustrations.  Reedmaking and teaching are things I am good at.   How, I wondered, could I help people beyond my own students and my own community?

There are two ways, I think. One is a series of video lessons on reed-making.  I'm calling it The Five Minute Reedmaker, and I'll be releasing one video each week…