Project and Practice Update Nov 5

I've been overwhelmed the past week with my room being repaired and painted. It's amazing how disruptive those changes can be to a regular and focused practice schedule.

Plus I realized that I have recently been changing too many parameters in my equipment: changed clarinet, barrels, mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds, thumb positions. I feel dizzy just thinking about all those changes. Too much to keep track of what's what!

I went back to my R13 Buffets from the Selmer Privileges (with relatively new Backun barrels and bells) and my Lelandais mouthpiece (which I've been coming back to for 20 years... you'd think I'd learn...)

But I continued with Legere reeds, which I've been experimenting with for six months now. I have played on the Legere Signatures for a few months, and I love them. However, the harder ones ended up being too tricky to control, so I went softer, and softer, from a 4, to a 3.75, and recently to a 3.5!

Playing the 3.5 or 3.75 Legere Signature is the most comfortable I've felt on any synthetic reed since I started trying them 6 months ago. Attacks and articulation are as natural as with a cane reed (but more consistent). Tone is warm and full. I really feel like I'm playing on an excellent cane reed.

I've been playing Legere reeds exclusively for every rehearsal and concert this season. I have not played any cane reeds.

I must report that I've tried the competitor, Forestone, again and again. The more I play it, the less I like it. Forestone reeds sound "flabby". They require biting. They cannot be played without biting. I tried their hardest reed, almost unplayably hard, and I still had to bit to get the pitch up. If you don't mind playing flat, they're okay, though they still sound flabby and unfocused. I am sure some people can play them. Not me. And not another principal clarinetist in an orchestra, to my knowledge.

So, there's the update.

I've been wood-shedding Jeanjean 2, but not to the point of being ready to share it with you. (I may move to 3 before recording 2 to give me some breathing room with practicing. I'm getting a bit stuck on 2. We'll see)

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6 comments for “Project and Practice Update Nov 5

  1. November 10, 2009 at

    I agree on the Legere reeds, David. I have been using the 3.5's for a long time now. You nailed it…I keep playing them because they are so consistent!

  2. Bob
    November 8, 2009 at

    Wow…3.5 Legere. Not too "buzzy" down at the softer strength?

    • November 9, 2009 at

      Less buzzy than the harder ones. I ended up using a 3.75 slightly sanded. Perfect.

      • Bob
        November 9, 2009 at

        Great! I'll try a 3.5 and a 3.75. I have to say, right now I'm a total convert on the Signatures. Absolutely amazing! These are NOT the plastic reeds from 20 years ago! I've just tried 4's, and although I'm not sure yet if the best Signature I've had so far beats the best cane reed I've ever had, these things are very close. You have to get used to them…but the benefits from convenience and consistency and longevity seem well worth it. I did Tchaik 6 on one, and the ppppp solos in the first movement came with surprising ease.

        So do you sand in only one direction? I'm afraid to sand them…ruining a $1 cane reed is a little easier to swallow than ruining a $25 Signature!

      • November 9, 2009 at

        Great. Glad you like them! If the 4 works, stick with it. Or just try a 3.75. The 3. 5 sags a bit in pitch, so I use it for lighter styles, Mozart, Beethoven.

        Sand very lightly only one swipe each tip corner, perpendicular away from reed. (maybe a bit angled, 40 degree) And perhaps once each side at bottom of cut. (320 sand paper)

  3. Justin Willsey
    November 6, 2009 at

    I too have experimented with the Signatures, size 4. This morning I played one that seemed a good fit for Petrushka, but later it didn't give me the sound I wanted for Brahms. Did you generally play size 4 on cane?

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