Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why you NEED an oboe reed case

Recently I've been considering why an oboe reed case is a necessity for all oboe players, rather than an optional accessory. I talked about the importance of handmade oboe reeds earlier, but this is important whether the reeds you play on are handmade or not.

moldy oboe reeds - why you need a reed case

I read an article about trombone lung that discussed the types of mold that grow inside the tubing of brass instruments and it got me thinking about the mold that I sometimes see inside oboe reeds. That people put in their mouths. I decided to cut up some reeds just to show you...because I can make more. :)

moldy oboe reeds

The reed blades on the left came out of my personal reed case and the blades on the right were stored in a reed vial while we were waiting for my student's reed case to come in. Why the difference? My reed case has proper ventilation while a reed vial doesn't have any air flow. at. all. This means that the bacteria that gets blown into the reed from your mouth gets to stay moist and dark, and that means mold. See the black spots? Yep, that's mold. Just what you want to grow on the inside of your oboe reed. Hygiene reasons aside, it also causes the reed to vibrate differently, which will change the sound.

oboe reed vial

So, why do oboe reeds come in reed vials if they aren't good for them? Well, they're the safest container for shipping and storage, because the reed's tip can be protected and the reed doesn't move around. Reed makers don't intend for them to be used for long term storage. The other thing that happens when reed vials are used for long term storage is that the tip of the reed frequently gets hit on the sides of the vial, which usually renders the reed unplayable. Reeds are expensive, so we should do everything possible to keep them in the best playing order.
Hodge 3 Oboe Reed Case

Ok, so I've convinced you that you need an oboe reed case to protect your investment, but what kind should you buy? The only kind of oboe reed case that I don't recommend is the type that looks like a clarinet reed holder, where the reed slides in. These are just as bad as reed vials as far as destroying the tip of the reed. This is the type of reed case that I use, but I'm going to assume that most of you don't need to store 20 reeds at a time. I really like these 3 reed cases from Ann Hodge that you can get from Amazon for around $12.00. They get the job done, fit in most oboe cases and are inexpensive.

Now that you know what can grow inside of an oboe reed and what kind of oboe reed case to buy, you can start really protecting your oboe reeds. Please get in touch if you need more help picking one out!

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