Selecting Reeds for the Clarinet

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 50,023
    Professional wood-wind performer and instructor Ariana Lamon-Anderson demonstrates how to select reeds for the clarinet.

    Ariana Lamen-Anderson

    Ariana Lamon-Anderson is a professional clarinetist and pedagogue. Her performances include solo, band and orchestral throughout the US. Ms. Anderson’s teaching experience include classical, jazz, and popular with children and adults of all ages, including children with special needs. She is on the faculty at the International School of Music (ISM)in Bethesda, where she teaches clarinet to all ages, levels, and styles. With a distinguished faculty of 55 teachers, ISM provides students with a rich music education experience. The ISM faculty’s friendly personalities, insightful approaches, and individually tailored teaching methods have helped students become complete and versatile musicians. ISM provides an atmosphere that is warm and supportive so every student can achieve his/her best.

    Ariana: Hi, I am Ariana, Wood-wind performer and instructor. Today, we are talking about Clarinet basics and now I would like to talk to you about Reeds. Reeds are the main source of tone production on the Clarinet. They vibrate against the mouthpiece and that creates all the sound vibration that goes through the instrument. When you are at the store buying reeds, you want to sure to be buying D-flat Clarinet reeds. All other reeds are for other instruments and will therefore be the wrong size for your mouthpiece. There are many different brands of reeds that usually stands on the back. Brands usually arent better or worse than the next, its just a different way of making them. The number at the bottom of the reed indicates the strength of the reed. The strength is that thickness measured by very specialized instruments. You cant actually see the thickness but what it is that the thicker the reed is the harder it is to make it vibrate against the mouthpiece. I play on a size four reed. Some professionals play on strength as hard as the five and some professionals play on strength such as the three. When you are first starting the Clarinet, I would recommend a two or two-and-a-half. What you are doing is , you are building muscles in your face to help support the reed and allow it to vibrate. Its much like body building so, you must start with the weaker strength and move up. Once you have played on two or two-and-a-half for a while and its feeling pretty comfortable, then I would move up. A really good size of reed is between a three and four, thats going to help the high notes be supported and come out on the instrument. Reeds only last as long as they look relatively smooth, no really bad discoloration. The moment when chips or cracks you need to through it away because thats no longer able to vibrate against the mouthpiece properly. For beginners reeds tend to last a lot longer because you are not playing four, five hours a day. When you are playing four-five hours a day, you want to have several reeds as many as 12 or 16 that you rotate. As a beginner I would advice having two or three that will play at anytime because you dont want to be sitting at home practicing or sitting in band class and have your reed break and not have any backups. So and also as far as strength, its not the better player to have stronger reed its whatever you are comfortable with whatever. No Audio (02:24:00 to 02:36:00)