Klarinet Archive - Posting 001049.txt from 1999/04
Subj: [kl] Reed Care
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 19:05:29 -0400
Robert Reyes wrote,
>What and how is the best way to show young players how to upkeep and
maintain there reed in good working order without them smelling bad, looking
bad, and screwing up the mouthpiece. Last monday when I was working with a
local youth band, I saw something that would would make your stomach turn,
the front part was a little dirty and brown looking. This is the scary part,
the other side was not only just as dirty but had this brown goo on it.
Brown Goo! I could only imagine what someone would have to do for there reed
to look like that. So I will ask the question again, What must one do to get
the point of proper reed care across. this is a true story.>
I know your story is true because I find the crusted residue of this goop
clogging the mouthpieces and the backs of the reeds left behind in the cases
of dirty old instruments I buy at flea markets, yard sales and so forth.
Some of these reeds would gag a goat. Occasionally the dried dribble lines
the instrument right down through all the sections, all the way to the bell.
(This will not come as news to many on the list. A few months ago, for
instance, on the alt.music.saxophone newsgroup, I think it was, Richard Bush
wrote about a demonstration of cleaning techniques that he conducted with a
student's bassoon bocal. Do look that up on Deja News if you want to read
something highly entertaining and equal parts humorous and revolting that
corroborates everything you say.) I bought a horsehair bore brush (like a
bottle brush) to clean out used clarinets, because I find more of them left
filthy than clean. Then again, I buy only the clarinets that people dump in
the cheap markets. People who care enough about their instruments to learn
the value probably take better care of them.
IMHO, you can get the point across to students until you're blue in the face,
but some kids will act like slobs anyway. Not only that, but some kids will
take pride in their slobbishness. Given the slightest encouragement, they
will raise slobbishness to an art form. They will put far more work into
out-slobbing their classmates than they will into taking care of their reeds.
Apologies if I've told this story here before--I told it somewhere and can't
recall where--but my grade school band teacher instructed us in proper reed
care and conducted periodic inspections. He made all the clarinet and sax
players take off our reeds and show him the backs of the reeds and the
insides of the mouthpieces. When he found an especially gruesome specimen,
he would hold it high over his head with one hand, hold his nose with the
other hand, stick out his tongue, scrunch his eyes shut and make loud,
theatrical gagging noises. Alas, this performance so entertained the troops
that several of the no-neck monsters began competing for the filthiest reed.
Those who had washed up once a week or so quit washing at all, and started
eating cheese before they played. They developed an impressive, indeed
frightening, proficiency at cultivating unusual life-forms with the reed as
convenient microscope slide.
I always wondered if those kids ever accidently slobbered into the mouthpiece
too much, so that it started to gurgle. Did they dare to suck some of the
spit back out?
"Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts...."
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