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 Richard Killmer's Secret to fast reeds?
Author: cjwright 
Date:   2006-09-04 22:21

I remember several lessons I took with Mr. Killmer, where he'd sit down and within 6 or 7 minutes he'd have a reed better than mine, and I'm a pretty proficient reedmaker! Is anyone a student of his? What was his secret? Does anyone know the order in which he'd make a reed within 6 or 7 minutes?

Blog, An Oboe In Paradise
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Post Edited (2006-09-04 22:22)

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 Re: Richard Killmer's Secret to fast reeds?
Author: dreygirl 
Date:   2006-11-06 20:38

Well, a lot of his fast reed making ability stems from his having to make (I think) 100 reeds within a short period of time, I want to say something like a week for weeks on end. I can't remember who this was for (there are so many stories about so many people I've heard from him!), but I do remember that someone (whether a teacher or a reed-employer) made him make an ungodly amount of reeds in a very short period of time. I do remember him saying something about once you make 1000 reeds you really learn how to do things fast.

I did my undergrad with him...I don't know that it's so much a secret, and honestly I think all his students at some point had the experience of him sitting down and making a reed in 5 minutes and it sounding better than ours. I think if you watch him, he just moves fast...sorry to sound like a simplistic answer, but RK himself doesn't like to "overthink" things. He's a very organic, intuitive player and teacher so he's not going to have a thesis on the measurements every 1/2 mm on the cane. I think at this point he does mostly what feels right.

If you want some kind of order, I'd say that RK would gouge a piece of cane (probably took 30 seconds on the Ross), then the shaping and tieing would take about 2 min, if that. Then he'd scrape quite a bit of cane out before even clipping it open (1.5 min). Then he'd clip the reed open and try it on the oboe before even putting a plaque in it, then he'd finish it accordingly. He called it the "5 min reed." Man, I miss seeing him all the time!!!!

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 Re: Richard Killmer's Secret to fast reeds?
Author: coguy5280 
Date:   2013-02-08 07:06

He would get the tip going, extend the scrape into the back to remove all the bark, go back to the tip, take some cane out of the back to separate it out from the heart, go back to the tip, then clip to C. If it needed more response, then it was back to the tip and another clip. As you say, this took all of five minutes.

His "secret" to the quickness is that he used a less-than-sharp knife in conjunction with a "slicing" technique in which he used his thumb at the back of the knife and downward pressure to cut through several layers of cane (i.e., in the tip) all at once and quickly created a slope out to the end. You'd think he would rip off a corner, but he never did. The tips were pretty long, but the reeds were very stable because he never took anything off the heart (if he did, he would "shine" the heart with a "traditional" scrape, i.e., use very light pressure and take virtually nothing off).

Erin Hannigan is one student, I think, who successfully uses his slicing technique, and she reportedly makes reeds very quickly, too.

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 Re: Richard Killmer's Secret to fast reeds?
Author: JRC 
Date:   2013-02-08 13:39

Reminds me of this cartoon...

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 Re: Richard Killmer's Secret to fast reeds?
Author: oboeandy 
Date:   2013-02-08 16:18

I'd just like to mention that it's possible to use the "slicing" technique and still be a slow reed-maker, as I am! I'm still trying to apply the RK method to my own process...

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