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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000076.txt from 2004/10

From: "Patricia A. Smith" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Playing while sick
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 21:15:13 -0400

Audrey Travis wrote:

>How do I kill germs on the reed and mouthpiece after playing when I have a bad cold? I don't want to reinfect myself. I could use soap on the mouthpiece ( hard rubber) but what about the reed?
>Any suggestions?

This is a knotty problem, for sure.

Considering some old down home remedies, I'm thinking:

1) if you have a virus, simply allowing the reed to air-dry may kill
most of those nasties. Viruses normally need moisture and VERY warm
(close to inside body temperature) to survive.

2) you could freeze your reeds. However, since they were once living
things, I'm not sure how this would affect the reed at the cellular
structure. It may alter it, considering that the moisture inside the
reed would freeze and the cold would contract everything.

3) you could microwave the reed in a sterile saline solution for
anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Be careful not to OVER-heat the
reed, however. We want a sterilized reed, not a COOKED reed (I doubt
they are very appetizing, though I've never tried them with the rabbits
to find out)

4) you could soak them in a weak white vinegar and water solution,
adding anywhere from ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to the solution,
once the reed has soaked for a short time, say about ten minutes at the
longest? (Someone correct me if they think this is too long. I'm in mad
scientist mode, not clarinettist mode) We don't want the reeds to get
waterlogged or anything, just to kill the micro-critters that made you
sick. The chemical reaction between the white vinegar & baking soda
should kill whatever soaking dislodges. The only possible problem I see
with this is that you could end up with a) bad tasting reeds -which
would be fixed by simply allowing them to air dry; or b) waterlogged
reeds (which could be fixed by air drying reeds on a flat surface of
your choosing).

</mad scientist>

If I think of anything else you can try, I'll post that too. This is an
interesting question. And, IMO, a valid one, considering that reeds,
IMO, are pretty expensive.

Patricia Smith

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