I recently met with a former student who proudly described THE reed she was working on to me. She’d gotten it to a point where it made a beep, but it didn’t really play on the oboe yet, but i
IT HADN’T CRACKED! I celebrated with her – but I limited my glee. One slightly successful reed – in the past month – is a good start. It’s further than she had gotten before.
But that is no way to be abundant. If it takes you a month to sort of make one reed, where’s the incentive to even start? No one has that kind of time, and you can’t make your living on one reed a month even if it’s a perfect reed.
More to the point – the learning curve at that rate is basically a flat line. Reedmaking is an art as well as a craft. I can teach someone to construct a reed in a single session, and we can get to a beeping reed in that time. But the next part? The part where you finish it to your comfort and then go out in public and play on it? The part where you analyze what you don’t like, form a hypothesis about how to fix it, try that, and fail a bunch of times before you succeed? That’s really on you, and it takes EXPERIENCE and practice to get there.
I don’t know actually how many reeds I made before I started making adequate ones. Before I started actually playing on my own, and not my teacher’s. That statistic is lost to time. I don’t remember what my numbers were like, but I started learning in 9th grade. The summer after 11th grade I was on my own, by circumstance not choice. My reeds were not good at that time but I could get by on them. Since then it’s been a continual process of iteration.
Does it have to take two and a half years to learn this skill? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
But can you get there on one reed a month? ALSO NO.
Make more reeds. Make more reeds. Make more reeds.
I want to help. Oboe Reed Boot Camp can’t happen this summer. Getting a crowd of oboists into a room to sit close together for hours, talk and laugh, and try each other’s reeds didn’t seem like INSANITY before COVID-19, but it does now.
Instead I have the offer of Reed Club – a weekly social reedmaking session over Zoom, for people who have the concepts in place but would like more support, accountability, and companionship as they work.
And later this summer I will open a new online program, Zero to Reedmaker, for the folks who need a little more INSTRUCTION. Feel free to hit me with an email if this sounds like YOU and you want to be notified when it opens!