Student Oboe Reeds Are More Difficult To Make Than You Think

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse


Student Oboe Reeds From The Reed Maker's Perspective

Would it surprise you to know that student oboe reeds suitable for players with less than a year of experience are some of the most difficult to make?  This may seem counter-intuitive considering that high end reeds can sell for so much more. Let me share why it is so for me.

The best reed structure to ensure serviceability for the new player includes somewhat smaller apertures (openings) and relatively light response so the player doesn't have to work so hard. The specifications to achieve goals is narrower and the risks in achieving these goals are greater than with higher end reeds.

While cane can be sorted by diameter with the goal of achieving this preferred aperture size, actual results can vary with some too large for beginners. This means overfilling student level blank inventories to meet demand.  The light response needed for more accessibility poses a risk to the reed maker because it requires a slender structure that is more susceptible to collapse. Those reeds that collapse need to be dismantled.  Further, oboe reeds are very delicate to start with, and the more one scrapes, the greater the likelihood of lost corners or other unfortunate events. There is a very narrow specification window to achieve student reed objectives without sacrificing tone, pitch and longevity.  The truth is that I dismantle more student reeds than any other grade. 

Students deserve reeds that are well constructed, compensate for skills that have not fully developed and go the distance.  I do my best to honor students with reeds that really work.

So, now you know why student reeds can be so hard to make. 

Good luck, and happy music making!


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