You should never have just one reed


Playing on one reed til it breaks or dies = Bad idea!

  • You will break it just before a performance and the new replacement reed is too hard……because
  • Reeds change over time, getting softer as they go. The cane in the reed gradually breaks down from your saliva. It is gradual enough that you don’t notice it until you have to replace it.

My recommendation and why

Get a reed guard. They cost about $5 for a plastic guard for clarinet/sax players. Get one that has a place for four reeds, or buy TWO of the 2-reed variety.

Get FOUR reeds. Put them in the reed guard(s) and find a way to label the guard (not the reeds) either 1-2-3-4 or A-B-C-D.

ROTATE the reeds. Play a different reed each day. In most cases, rotating four reeds will go longer and better than playing four reeds individually until they die.

Rank/Rate your reeds.
I = performance grade
II = good for practice, but not for performance
III = maybe time to replace

After I have all four reeds broken in pretty well, once I find one that I would be comfortable using in a performance, I take an ink pen or marker and put a single verticle mark [I]on the end of the reed (that you can see when the reed is in the guard). If I have a reed that is less than performance quality, I’ll put TWO vertical marks [II]. (If/when my performance reed deteriorates, I will add a second mark to it). A reed that gets to a [III] mark is probably not worth keeping.

REPLACE a III reed with a NEW one and get it going in the rotation.

17 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them. Also 4yrs as proprietor of, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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