Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To Gouge or Not to Gouge?

Yesterday I played a job and found out from a colleague that I have a percussionist reader in Florida! (Hi to my reader in Florida!) The internet is amazing!

This colleague said she really enjoyed reading the blog (THANK YOU!) and asked me if I “still make reeds or is that one of my compromises?”

This is something I discuss with my oboist and bassoonist interviewees because as I hypothesized when I started the project, reed-making adds yet another layer of complexity to a dual career life. (My reader-colleague agreed.) One could consider reed-making as a third career!  

The answer is YES, I do make my own reeds! I have thought about buying them but have never gone through with it. We oboists make our own reeds primarily for two reasons: 1) We can customize them however we would like and 2) It is more cost-effective. So this is an area where I do not compromise. That said, I never have as many reeds in the case as I would like. (Does any oboist?)

But, like I said in my post about taking time off: As long as you -- and the reed! -- can do what the job requires of you, that’s all that really matters.

I also ask my interviewees specifically about gouging and other preparation to the cane. So far no one I interviewed does much prep. That is where I differ; I start with tube cane and do all of the prep work.

I didn’t always do all of the prep myself, but it wasn’t really due to the time consideration but rather because I didn’t have enough money for the equipment at that time. Then I happened to get a used gouging machine from John Symer at an incredible price. John also gave me some tips to save money in other areas of the cane preparation process.

It definitely takes more time up front to do all of this work to the cane, which is probably why my interviewees don’t do it. If you have a good source for gouged cane, there’s really no need.

But personally, my reeds improved dramatically since I started gouging my own cane again. I also really like some of the early prep work; splitting cane is a great stress reliever! I feel that the consistency and control is worth it and actually saves me time in the long run.

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