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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000475.txt from 1996/01

From: "Edwin V. Lacy" <el2@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Long soaking period for reeds or cane
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 12:22:45 -0500

On Wed, 6 Dec 1995, Traugh wrote:

> I have a beginning student that has developed a lower lip rash that has
> forced her to stop practicing clarinet. I have been told that it may be
> a reaction to saliva on her bottom lip. Has anyone else had a problem
> with this? What do I do? She shows alot of interest and I hate to lose
> her. Please Email responses to

I know of several people who have this problem, and in some cases it
seems to be an allergic reaction to minerals or particulate matter in the
pores of the cane. One category of compounds found in cane is water
soluble salts, and sensitivity to these materials is not especially rare.

The solution may be a long soaking period for the reeds to leach out all
the materials in the pores. I know this is heresy to most clarinetists,
but I conducted a research project which demonstrated that a long soaking
period does not necessarily have to be detrimental to the playing
characteristics of reeds, and in fact, in some cases may improve them.

My results are written in an article in the Journal of the International
Double Reed Society, No. 16, August, 1988, pp. 99 - 102. The title of
the article is "An Experiment in Treatment of Arundo Donax." (Arundo
Donax is the biological name of the material from which our reeds are made.)

If there is any interest, perhaps I later could summarize the article.
For the present, if you wish to experiment with this, here are some
procedures to follow.

1. Soak reeds in distilled water.

2. Soak them in a container which is kept tightly closed, in order not
to pick up bacteria or mold spores from the air.

3. Keep the container in a dark place, as algae need light in order to

4. Leave no air space in the container.

5. Change the water after 24 hours of soaking, and thereafter change it
every 48 hours.

If these procedures are followed, reeds or cane can be soaked almost
indefinitely with no negative effects. The experiment that a soaking
period of 5 days seems to be the minimum period which will leach out all
detectable amounts of matter from the pores of the cane.

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who experiments with
this, and to know whether it helps solve your problem.

Ed Lacy

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