Author: Ed Lowry
Date: 2019-12-05 01:22
I was taught many years ago that when performing an experiment with changing variables, it is generally wise not to change two variables from case one to case two. That is, hold everything constant, change one variable, measure the result, and attribute the difference in the result to the changed variable.
The advice to folks on this list and elsewhere, looking for new clarinets, mouthpieces, and reeds is problematic because different mouthpieces "require" different reeds. When looking for a new mouthpiece, the advice is to bring a reed you’ve been playing on that you like. Looking for a new reed? Don’t change the mouthpiece when selecting another reed.
I once wanted to try out a crystal mouthpiece. At the Clarinetfest in New Orleans I couldn't get any to play, so I gave up.
It strikes me in retrospect, however, that the interdependence of reeds and mouthpieces makes searching for a new reed or mouthpiece very difficult. Simply (and perhaps too simply) stated, some mouthpieces require softer reeds than others. Thus, for the student especially (but for everyone, I suggest), is the mouthpiece that she’s trying in the music store not producing the sound she wants because it’s not coupled with the right reed, or is the mouthpiece just not right for her, regardless of what reed she tries? And how will she be able to bring in the “right” reed for what could be the perfect mouthpiece if she’s never used, broken in, and adjusted that perfect reed for what might be a terrific mouthpiece?
For me personally, I wonder if the mouthpiece I now use (and like) not really close to the the optimum mouthpiece I could have, but for the fact that, many years ago, it meshed well with the reed I happened to bring in?