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!