Maryland Winds

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I will be performing on Sunday with a new professional wind band called the Maryland Winds. This group is made up of freelance musicians like myself and retired musicians from the elite military bands in the DC area (“The President’s Own” Marine Band, “Pershing’s Own” Army Band, the Army Field Band, the Navy Band, and the Air Force Band). If you would like to come out to support us, the concert is at 7:00 pm on Sunday evening at Atholton High School. Tickets are free, but you will still need to order them to make sure we have an accurate account of how many people are in attendance.

http://www.marylandwinds.com

The concert will consist of:

Milburn, World Premier Fanfare
Buck, Festival Overture on the Star Spangled Banner
Giroux, Hymn for the Innocent
Curnow, Concertpiece featuring René Hernandez, trumpet soloist
Salfelder, Cathedrals
Bernstein, Suite for Mass
McKenzie, Iron Mahors March
Copland, Variations on a Shaker Melody
Murtha, Scarborough Fair
Nelson, Rocky Point Holiday

Please come out to support Maryland’s newest professional wind band in its inaugural performance.

 

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!

Kitty Lessons? 

What is the number one reason my students give for not moving lessons from my home? The cat.

Kevin is the sweetest, most gentle, and loving cat any person could meet, and he loves my students so very much. Looks like the feelings are mutual, at least today:

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That crazy cat could probably play clarinet like a pro after nearly twelve years of sitting in on lessons. Love my Kevin!!

Fall Lessons!

Fall lessons have been scheduled successfully for another year! I know I have a few outstanding emails from new students to return, so please expect replies from me today. I had to solidify my schedule with the current studio before adding in new students, which I am sure parents understand and appreciate. Thank you for all the support and your continued wish to see your child achieve their playing goals at a high level!

Fall Lessons

 

Reed Care

Below is the post shared by Richie Hawley on his blog about reed care that I think my students and colleagues might find interesting:

Many students and professionals ask me, “How do I make my reeds better?” This question comes with the expectation that I will be passing on advice or a method of adjusting a reed with a knife or sandpaper. All are surprised when I say that I NEVER work on my reeds and that I confiscate my students’ reed knives and adjusting tools on their first day of lessons with me at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Instead of giving them a claim check for their confiscated knives, I give them a Tupperware box with a humidity pack inside of it, or a reed storage case (also with a humidity pack inside).    

One week after this exchange of reed knife for humidity control, my students all remark about how stable and consistent their reeds have become. This is because their reeds are no longer going from 100% humidity (a wet reed after playing) to the 20-30% humidity of their daily surroundings, which happens when they are left out in the open to dry. This rapid and damaging drying of a reed occurs when the reed is just placed into a clarinet case, case pocket, or even left out on a stand or table. These are the main causes for reed warpage and also the dreaded “potato chip tip.” I call it that because a reed that dries rapidly to below 50% humidity can get a tip that looks like a Ruffles potato chip! This is extreme warpage! Once a reed gets to this point, it will have lost its clarity, response and depth of sound.

Some will argue with me, saying “I live in Houston and its 90% humidity outside… I don’t need one of those humidity packs…,” etc. What those skeptics fail to realize is that in the most humid cities, the air conditioning is cranked up full blast all of the time, thus making the indoor humidity below 30%.

The other advantage of putting your reeds in a humidity controlled environment is that they have a chance to start to acclimate to a consistent environment right away upon opening the box. This is especially true if you ordered your reeds and they traveled to you via plane, train, or truck through many different temperatures and environments. A humidity-acclimated box of reeds will yield a higher number of great reeds than one that has not stabilized in this manner. I recommend unwrapping the cellophane from a new box of reeds and placing it in a humidity-controlled box or bag for one to three weeks before trying them. I guarantee that you will find more terrific reeds than ever before.

Give your reeds a little bit of humidity and TLC, and they will be there for you when you need them to be at their best.

POSTSCRIPT

Since this was shared so much on Facebook I have received wonderful questions about my process. Some have asked which level of humiditypack to use.

The answer is: learn and understand the humidity in your box first. Having a hygrometer in there would identify the situation. I keep 59% in my box when it is dry outside or indoors. But in places like Santa Barbara in the summer (with no AC running and drying things out indoors), I dont even use a humidty pack! Knowing the ecosystem in the box via a hygrometer is telling. The bottom line is that preventing rapid changes and keeping a stable environment is critical.