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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000377.txt from 1999/04

From: "David B. Niethamer" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Sharpening Reed Knife
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 21:04:47 -0400

on 4/5/99 7:31 PM, Karl Krelove wrote:

>Most of the reeds I tried to
>adjust back then turned out to be junk - I can still remember the way
>Gigliotti would roll his eyes the next lesson when he would first try the
>reed I had brought in. Then he'd sit down at his desk and adjust another one
>while I watched and asked questions. It always seemed to work when he did
>it. When I tried the same things at home, the result for a long while was
>nearly always, in the short run, a waste of time and reeds.

I sat at the Marcellus Master Class a *long* time ago, and watched Clark
Brody do his reed making schtick with the ReeDuAl. Next to me was Larry
Combs, who correctly said that you can teach someone the basics of reed
making and adjustment in about an hour - the rest is trial and error. My
experience as a reed maker proves this to be true, at least for me. So,
while in the short run it may be a waste of time and reeds, in the long
run it's the only way you or the student will learn what works for you,
on your mouthpiece. Heaven help you when you change mouthpieces!

Re: sharpening the knife - find a double reed player, and have them
demonstrate what to do. I've read a number of descriptions, and they
always seem pretty murky. Someone with the technique on auto-pilot from
years of doing it, can show you clearly in about 5 minutes.

IMO, clarinetists are the "know nothings" of the reed community. Double
reed players have measurements (they may argue about which ones are
right, but they have them), know how to sharpen knives, and know the
adjustment techniques cold. Of course, they have the technique of opening
or closing the tip as it suits their needs, which clarinetists can't do.
I've learned a lot from my double reed colleagues in the orchestra (after
they've stopped laughing at me fro reinventing the wheel!). BTW, they all
think my knives are a joke! Probably rightfully so!

One of the best reed books I've ever seen is Larry Guy's "Selection,
Adjustment, and care of Single Reeds". It's geared mostly to those who
buy their reeds, but gives a coherent 10 day break-in routine, tips and
techniques, clearly illustrated as appropriate, and is very lucidly
written. It costs $15 (includes shipping), from Larry directly -
Rivernote Press, 36 Hudson Avenue, Stony Point, New York, 10980. (no, I
don't get e commission!). I discovered it when Mark C posted info about a
companion book, "Intonation Training for Clarinetists" to this list. ITfC
is also a great, useful book, also $15.



David Niethamer
Principal Clarinet, Richmond Symphony

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