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!

Full List of All-State Audition Music

The Maryland Music Educators Association has released the entire list of All-State requirements on their website, so I thought I would share it here. If you have friends or family trying out for All-State on other instruments, they will like knowing this information, too:

All State 2016-17

Poulenc Sextet for Winds and Piano

I am constantly moved by music, and this piece serves as my current obsession. This performance is nearly flawless and musically mature. Of special interest to me is that the wind players are standing, which is a rare sight in quintet performances, in my experience.

The staging of this ensemble is brilliant, because not only is the piano featured in the middle of the group, but the open piano lid provides a perfect wall for bouncing the horn sound back into the ensemble and, subsequently, the crowd. The intonation is out-of-this-world perfect, which completely blows me away, and the constant eye contact and non-verbal queues are something young ensemble musicians should be required to study.

At times, it seems the clarinetist overpowers the group, which could be a function of the space, but he is quite an accomplished technician. The timbre of the flutist’s low register is so incredibly resonant, warm, and rich, but it seems she abdicates the control of the group to the clarinetist and oboist. That has happened with a number of wind quintets I have played in, too, so this is not a negative point in my book.

I applaud the hornist and bassoonist for standing and playing so precisely. Typically, these instrumentalists play most of their work seated, and these two lovely ladies, quite frankly and without intention of pun, blew me away with their artistry and cooperative styles. They are the standouts in this performance.

The pianist handles himself quite well within the group, and he played more responsively to the wind players than I expected. At times, his playing seemed a bit heavier than is my taste, but he made quite a great addition to this group.

Hope this piece brings joy to my readers as well!