I have been very lucky to have a LOT going on the past few months, but of course that means I'm going through reeds faster. I would guess most oboists have tried "saving" a reed - playing the dreadful reeds hoping the "good" one will still be good when you need it! But in my experience reeds don't wait for the big performance...there are so many factors involved that your perfect reed on Monday may be just awful on Friday. So I don't tend to save my best ones, I just play on whatever is working at the time. I have been thinking about reeds more and more, partly because I have been asked to teach at a reed making camp this summer! This is not something I have done in the past, although of course I have taught my students to make reeds (to varying degrees of success). So I've been pondering what exactly makes a reed good, and how to explain that to someone else, and how to consistently make good reeds - which is what we ALWAYS want to do but at least in my case, I just don't! So I'm trying some new things.
First I'm naming all my reeds. Boy names. Alphabetical. Has been fun to think of names but also I notice that I can remember George and how he behaved easier than R24, or the varigated blue with a streak on the bark.
Secondly, I'm counting my knife strokes. Seriously. I figure why not. So 20 strokes on each quarter before I cut the tip. Then depending on the hardness of the cane, about 100 strokes on each tip quarter, and maybe 40 on the sides of the heart. I use a dial micrometer so I have a number I'm aiming for, but counting seems to work pretty well.
Thirdly I'm keeping a journal of every reed - which type of cane and what shape, date, where I tied it on, thread color and maybe if it had anything weird, like soft cane, or really narrow opening or anything. That is something I have tried to do in the past but haven't been very successful at continuing. Seems to help that I'm naming them, maybe I feel more of a commitment.
So I'm off to make some more reeds. William and probably Xavier - I mean, what else can you do with X?