Can Your Reeds Make You Sick?

“Throw that away.”

“Why? I’ve been playing on it for weeks, and I like the way it sounds.”

“It’s black.”

“That’s just dirt/marker/pencil.”

“That is not going in your mouth again.”

I cannot recall the exact number of conversations I have had like this with students in the last twenty-one years. What students are willing to shove in their mouths is absolutely astounding, and then their parents cannot figure out why these students are always sick. Hmmmmm.

To prove a point to my students, and any other reed players out there reading this, I have always wanted to do a bacterial test on reeds and mouthpieces. Luckily for my checkbook, Michael Lowenstern did this exact experiment for me. Behold, the reed and mouthpiece bacterial study:

Still think playing on that reed with “just a little bit of black” is okay? Not in my studio!

Summer Clarinet Opportunities in California

Dear Clarinetist

We have two unique summer opportunities for you which would compliment each other perfectly and allow you two weeks of clarineting in California. While these two festivals are not related, it would give those of you who are looking to spend two weeks at Clarinet Festivals a chance to do so.

The California Clarinet Clinic will be held from June 23-27 in the beautiful Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles which is walking distance to the ocean and steps away from hiking in Temescal Canyon. The CCC will focus on mind/body issues and dealing with performance anxiety through hypnosis, music therapy, Alexander technique and yoga. It is a unique and special opportunity and available spaces are filling up quickly. The clarinet faculty of the CCC will be Michele Zukovsky, Peter Wright, Alcides Rodreguez, William Powell and Julia Heinen. Each participant will receive lessons with each of these faculty members in addition to opportunities to perform in masterclasses of orchestral and solo repertoire. The application for admission can be found online at

The HIdden Valley Music Seminar, featuring Mark Nuccio, will be held from June 25 – June 29 in beautiful Carmel Valley, CA. A short plane ride from LAX or Burbank airports to either Monterey or San Francisco airports would bring you to this delightful Northern CA festival and your second week of clarineting would feature additional intensive study with another world class clarinetist. The HVMS (…) offers 8, 2.5 hour masterclasses focusing on topics from audition preparation to fundamentals in clarinet playing including articulation, sound development, practice techniques and phrasing using the human voice. There will be other topics as well. It also includes a combined recital from Mark Nuccio and his NY Philharmonic colleague, Judith LeClair, Principal Bassoon.

Please consider spending your clarinet time in California this summer. We know you will have an amazing and unforgettable experience.


Julia Heinen & Mark Nuccio

Mark Nuccio
New York Philharmonic, Associate Principal & Solo Eb Clarinet
Manhattan School of Music, Clarinet Faculty
Buffet Group USA, Artist & Clinician
D’Addario Woodwinds Artist Advisor & Clinician

Julia M. Heinen DMA
Professor of Music (clarinet)
California State University, Northridge (Los Angeles)
Co-Artistic Director of Clarinetfest 2011
Buffet Group USA and D’Addario Performing Artist
California State Chair of the International Clarinet Association
(818) 613-4305 cell

New Clarinet Today

Thank you, Music & Arts of Ellicott City and Stephen Byrd, for a wonderful experience today. One of my middle school students is the lucky, new owner of a Buffet E11 intermediate clarinet today, and both she and her mother were so pleased by the experience we had.

I was able to visit the store thirty minutes before my student in order to try the clarinets I had in mind for her. I played through the Yamaha 450N, Buffet E11, and Buffet E12F clarinets in a lesson room with plenty of privacy and pleasant assistance from the manager and his staff. Once my student and her mother arrived, I had Grace play through all the models and tell me which she felt played the best. Luckily, we agreed on which clarinet played the easiest and had the warmest tone: the Buffet E11.

Everyone walked away from today’s experience happy, and now Grace sounds even better than she already did. Thank you, again, Music & Arts of Ellicott City.