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Oboe reed making is not for the faint of heart. These tips help you to decide if you are ready to dip your feet or take the plunge.
When Is Reed Making A Better Choice Than Purchasing From A Professional Reed Maker?
There are more choices than ever before in satisfying your oboe reed requirements. When I was developing, there was no internet, and very few sources of professional reeds for sale- and those that existed were hard to find. The choice was buying a factory made reed and having it overhauled by my teacher, having my teacher supply reeds (wasn't going to happen), or making them myself.
Today, the science of reed is available throughout the internet and Youtube. While not stand alone tools, they are a great complement to the one-to-one learning that takes place with a teacher.
There are plenty of professional reed makers to choose from now. While they are not all equal in their skills, or compatible with your needs, given some trial and error, you should be able to find someone who will satisfy your requirements. It is expensive, but so is reed making, which is also time intensive.
Students preparing for conservatory must learn to make reeds, and as early as possible. Conservatory lessons are most productive when spend on tweaking reed making skills rather than starting from square one. This leaves more time for the hard work of developing sound production and musicianship.
For those who choose commercial reeds, it is still a good idea to get a reed adjustment kit. Every professional adjusts reeds multiple times before a concert, even after they think it has been finished. It is not realistic to expect a professional reed maker to finish a reed in more than 2-3 drying cycles.
For those players who are somewhere between these two strategies, consider a reed making curriculum in reverse order. Start with professional mounted and profiled reeds, and work your way back to gouging, shaping, mounting and profiling, one step at a time. This way, you have skills that you can bring forward even if you decide that you do not want to make your own reeds from scratch after all.