Harder doesn’t mean better.
It is not the case that 12-year-olds need a certain EASY kind of reed, that high-schoolers should step up to MEDIUM, that adults all play on MEDIUM HARD or HARD. You don’t just step up progressively according to your age, or your level – Rubank Intermediate Book reeds are not necessarily different from Rubank Elementary Book reeds.
Rather, as you learn how to support and how to use your air, your reed needs will change. You will develop more strength and your EASY reeds will no longer accommodate all of the air you have. You will develop more confidence in your embouchure and might choose to have more or less stability in your reeds so you can make the sounds you want to make.
In fact, different reeds from different makers with different strengths just ACT differently. There is some system to this – a very easy reed will tend to have less stability, a very hard reed might have a stronger opening – but really the right reed FOR YOU is whatever the right reed for you FEELS LIKE. Whatever reed enables you to express your artistic ideas with less STRUGGLE.
Similarly – it IS true that seventh grade math, say, is harder than 5th grade math. And that all things being equal, as you advance through your career, higher-paid jobs come with more responsibility and might be considered harder. And LOTS of people seem to believe that if you want to make more money or have more influence or progress through your life you have to work HARDER.
But I guess I would ask this. What if HARDER wasn’t BETTER? What if it could be ok to identify the thing you are really good at, the thing that comes naturally to you, the thing that’s EXCITING and INTERESTING to do – and do that?
What if it didn’t have to be a STRUGGLE?